We Should All Be This Creative at the Age of 98

Iris Apfel. Photo: Keith Major

To most people, coming up with a truly original idea takes a lot of work, a lot of caffeine, or a standing reservation at a hotel in your town (a tip from Maya Angelou). But for Iris Apfel, the 98-year-old fashion icon, original ideas come naturally.

“When people want something different, they call me. I don’t know why everyone wants to be the same. It’s so boring,” Apfel told me. Her latest project — because she’s constantly working on creative endeavors — is designing statement porcelain jewelry for the French house Bernardaud. Yes, statement jewelry made of porcelain — a truly novel concept.

It came to her after she met Michel Bernardaud and visited his store in France where she saw their “itsy bitsy, discreet” porcelain jewelry. “Not my style at all,” she said. But nobody had made Apfel’s preferred style of jewelry (in a word, large) out of porcelain, so why not her and Bernardaud?

“It’s not easy to make porcelain pieces. I can’t tell you why, but it’s not easy,” Apfel said. “And people are not very original. Everyone does what everyone else does.” The resulting collection is called Be Bold Over, and took two years to develop. It includes a giant stick-figure-like black necklace — which Apfel calls her Adam — colorful, chunky necklaces, and owl brooches in three different colors. Was Apfel inspired by anything in particular? Cubism, maybe, or Grecian pottery? “I don’t pay attention to that. People make up those things after,” she said. The whole collection is available, starting at $255, at Bernardaud.

We Should All Be This Creative at the Age of 98