09 January 2009

Iconoclastic, renegade brilliance

Right now, I am inspired by strong women who follow their own path and live well into their 80s with vim, whimsy, and moxie.  They encourage individuality in others and scoff at conformity.  Would that I could be Iris Apfel or Editta Sherman!
Iris Apfel is the embodiment of exuberance at 87 years old!  She is a mistress of mixing high and low, colors and patterns, more and more and more jewelry.  Instead of taking one off, she puts one on, bringing the fun back to fashion.  She and her husband Carl have been married-- and fabulously clad in velour, fur, and bold textiles-- and the owners of Old World Weavers, a textile house that has serviced Dorothy Draper and Estee Lauder, for over fifty years.  A "geriatric starlet," Iris is the poster child (or 87-year-old) for pleasing herself and finding joy in the little things-- like yellow trousers and fantastically large eyeglasses.

The brilliant Editta Sherman lives above Carnegie Hall in a rent-controlled apartment that she refuses to give up, despite the city of New York's attempt to evict her in order to make renovations.  Read the following about the Duchess of Carnegie from CNN.com:

"Dressed in a purple zebra-cuffed shirt and black jumpsuit, Editta Sherman ambles around her enormous studio with the sprightliness of a woman half her age. She holds up a photograph of herself with Salvador Dali, her aubergine-painted eyebrows animated as she tells stories about the famous faces who have dropped by over the years -- Andy Warhol, Henry Fonda, Eva Gabor, Tyrone Power, Carl Sandburg, Paul Newman.

"With Salvador, he had an exhibit nearby, you know, and I went there to meet him and we just hit it off. So he came back to my place and I took some pictures," she said. "He wanted to buy my (stair) railing which was pure bronze then, with some engravings from Paramount. I told him it was quite expensive and he said he'd have to think about it."

Yul Brenner brought Marlene Dietrich by once in the 1950s during a time when the two Hollywood stars were reportedly having an affair, Sherman said.

"They were just so sweet," she said. "Yul was playful, and she was quiet."

In true Warhol style, Sherman photographed the pop genius as he was photographing her.

Warhol's portrait sits next to the hundreds of other portraits piled up in rows in her studio. Sherman has hundreds of letters from Cary Grant -- a long correspondence of them trying, in vain, to get together for a portrait session."

WOW.  If I look half as good as Editta at age 96, or Iris at 87, and if I still maintain my iconoclastic spirit, I will be a very happy lady.

No comments: