“First, I had to get to know who I was. And then to try to express myself,” Iris Apfel tells me at a Palm Beach luncheon celebrating the launch of Iris Apfel x H&M (out Stateside today). “And that just kind of comes naturally, and you just work at it and work at it until you refine it and get it the way you like it and the way you feel comfortable.”
As the subject of a book and a documentary, the fashion icon knows a thing or two about personal style. For years, the textiles expert has delighted the fashion world with her penchant for combining — and clashing — colors, textures, and patterns. So much so that the Swedish brand (that lists Brock and Simone Rocha as past collaborators) tapped Apfel for its newest coveted designer collection, which was announced at the style maven’s 100th birthday celebration last year. Now, everyone can, according to the H&M press release, find their “inner Iris,” with an unabashedly joyful collection featuring apparel, shoes, and jewelry.
The collaboration is an amalgamation of the eccentric, expressive style that the centennial is known for — a bright purple crop jacket adorned in ruffles, a printed set featuring Apfel’s signature oversized glasses and iris flowers, a chunky ring depicting Apfel’s face, and ornate baroque slippers.
“H&M picked up on every detail,” Apfel says while pointing to the pearl-like buttons on the jacquard blue-green suit, featuring a whimsy peapod print, that she is wearing. “You wouldn't know these clothes weren’t couture. I mean, the workmanship. I'm a detail freak, and they were just wonderful.”
While a collaboration between Apfel — whose personal collection of designer clothes and one-of-a-kind vintage wears has been shown in museums like The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Peabody Essex Museum — and H&M, the affordable fashion destination, may appear unexpected, Apfel is a strong believer that “style and money have nothing to do with each other.”
“The most stylish people I've ever seen didn't have a penny,” she says. “It's not what you wear, it is how you wear it. You can have beautiful, beautiful things. But if you don't put them together properly or you don't carry them in the right way [it doesn’t matter]. Style is attitude, attitude, attitude.”
While Apfel wants to encourage self-expression with the collection, she hopes that shoppers will make the pieces uniquely their own. "You have to know who you are and not jump off on every trend, because then you'll get no place and you look like everybody else,” she says. “Originality is number one.”
With this in mind, don’t expect her to tell you how to style the idiosyncratic line. “One day I feel one way, one day I feel another,” she says of her dressing process. “And that's how you put [a look] together. I think formula dressing is very boring.”
See — and shop — some of our favorite Iris Apfel x H&M looks, ahead.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.