Iris and Albert
“Iris” Profiles New York/Palm Beach Fashion Maven Iris Apfel
By Skip Sheffield
For years I puzzled over a funny little lady with huge round glasses at media events I attended in Palm Beach and West Palm Beach. A few years ago I learned her name, Iris Apfel, and I learned she is kind of a big deal in the fashion world.
“Iris” is a loving documentary on Ms. Apfel, who was 93 at the time of shooting. Albert Maysles, who with late brother David (d. 1987) made the landmark 1970 Rolling Stones documentary “Gimmie Shelter,” is director. Albert Maysles was 87 at time of shooting. He died March 6 of this year at age 88.
Age is a big factor in “Iris.” In the case of Iris Apfel, it didn’t matter. Born and raised in Queens, New York in the depths of the depression, Iris was never a beauty.
“I was never pretty,” she says bluntly. “Pretty girls as they faded, they were nothing. As for myself, it was something more interesting.”
That something was style. Iris found it everywhere. From tony shops like Bergdorf Goodman to wholesale stalls on the streets of New York to the Swap Shop in Fort Lauderdale, Iria found cheap treasures. Iris met her anchor in her husband Carl, who turned 100 during filming.
“That’s where my money goes,” Carl cheerfully admits. “To buy my baby clothes. It was never a dull marriage.”
Iris says she “worships at the altar of accessories.” She has one of the largest collections of trinkets, baubles, beads, bangles and doodads in the world.
“I never had children, nor did I want them” she says. “I wanted a career and travel. I did not want my kids raised by a nanny.”
In this sense Iris Apfel is a thoroughly modern woman. She defied conventions of beauty and age, and as such is the ultimate survivor.”
The Forbidden Love of “Felix and Meira”
It’s not easy being a devout Orthodox Jew.
That is my takeaway from “Felix and Meira,” a bittersweet romance about a Meira, a young Hasidic housewife and mother (Hadas Yaron) and Felix (Martin Dubreuil), a doubting Montreal Jew who recently lost his devout father.
“Felix & Meira” is the semi-autobiographical story of screenwriter Luzer Twersky, who plays Shulem, the ultra-Orthodox husband of Meira. At 23, Twersky, the father of two, left his faith, divorced his wife and was shunned by his family.
Far be it from me to disparage anyone’s religious faith. In the case of Hasidic Jews, it becomes the most important thing in life. Giving up everything one believed in is catastrophic. “Felix & Meira” is not a happy film, yet for the two main characters, it was a necessary choice. Life is too short.