Director Albert Mayles. USA. 2014. 1hr 18 mins.
New York Doll
Fashion is for those seeking iconography as seen through a collective obsession of times or self abstraction.
Iris Apfel is such a creature.
You will be surprised how she began with a style which would grace any woman and then set about downing grace for an arcane beauty which becomes her armory. “I don’t do pretty” see soon explains. Why not? Why is because the allegiance to money and hybrid textural pattern and drapery is a bigger payload.
Descent through ascendancy.
Is it female dandyism? Her suppression of a sexual sole.
Through the outer shell?
There have been many designers whose pell mell has been to lead the following crew through hype and wayward stimulation into collecting clothes and paraphanalia in order to entrust their outer shells in hopeful association to the now. Something has to convince them of the reasoning for taking their appearance fetishly towards endorsement of what has become.
Mercifully there are times when fashion has provided an anti-thesis to that represents. The Com de Garçon, Chanel, Parkinson, type of less is more objectivity. Truly ordinary people have been transformed by their acceptance of certain principles of dress and have had their souls lightened.
Formless people, short, tall, wide, stooped, masculine, feminine types all have endless need to wear comfortable and well made clothes.
Iris is a film documentary by the late Albert Maysles who passed in March of this year aged 88 , he having all the composition and natural demeanor and quiet charm to form a penetrating film of the superficial art which makes for good visual kaleidoscopic memoir. For Iris is not young. At 94 she is at a risen star status in New York, so much so she holds centre stage at her husband Carls 100th birthday party and makes his ‘acceptance’ speech for him. Not that she over consumes him or overwhelms him but simply she is the kind of Jewish lady once she gets talking is hard to rein in.
You may have seen this magpie Fashion Guru. She has made a lot of picture driven magazines and found promotion of ‘iris inspired’ fashion houses, exhibitions and helpfully student scholarships a part of being alive.
By being public and doing things s her way of confirming her alive status.
Quite the opposite of sitting bordered and idol after a lifetime searching her search continues.
Once in a while there is a ferocious devoted upsurge in self expression as a movement of retention or marking of territory.
It happens after displacement and after war both uniformed bloody and horrific sudden shifts take place.
1920’s and 1950’s and to a lesser extent 1970’s all saw roles in reshaping nations and global taste and identity.
Pre history also has significant similar occupation of fashion and national vibrancy, concordance, reverence, rectitude and plain wealth expressed across its borders.
Old World Weavers
Old World Weavers is the name of the company the newly married couple set up to follow through with commissions. It is in the name. Just as the Romans ripped off the Asiatics and Middle Eastern Art then this is a small homage to it.
Tribal art is such that it is both normal and extrordinary to watch vats of colourscape, tanneries in places like Morocco go to local industrial scale lengths to craft and create the basic components for the variety of produce, carpets, curtains, textiles of every kind.
Metallurgists, dyers, shoemakers, weavers and secondary intricate button makers, adornments all are examples of offering the God of Light some return for vision and formation.
Blossom or fade
The film through her storytelling speaks of the early years.
Far from being outspoken she tells a tale naturally with the extraordinary touch of a perception which has all things otherwise bland and uninteresting. Very dismissive of lives she knows or cares little about. Charitable?
This is only plausible through the availability of contrast and not the operation mode beauty in all things.
Formative comparison drops
Her editorial gaze is despite an early years mild and soft appearance taken over by an addiction to jewelry which eclipses textiles, design of interiors and her apartment is now only a collection of highly crafted and well painted UN gauche works of art.
None of her collections are in anyway ugly or able to stand the light of day. Instead they are a summoned token of the century she is passing through and like Cleopatra is meant to engage the eyes.
She was born in Queens New York, in the early twenties, and with Carl Apfel, formed a textile company after meeting at various publications and arts occasions which and placed a combination of skills she explains for us needed follow through by traveling which like Sir Hans Sloane brought back containers full of all cultures. They bargained a lot and obtained high end for low rent.
Somehow she became a pillar of what was then regarded as taste but gradually this became replaced by notions and replications.
Architectural Digest v The World of Interiors camps.
Where is the Art
She never really was taken seriously by artists or writers except fashion house chiefs adored her because she helped the churn. No talent arose from her except having that editorial eye which was identifiable as her own.
It is no more no less. It simple is trademark trash. As such it damages her esplanade of virtuous bonhomie and other literal partially conspicuous breaches of standards which do the fashion world a service.
Alexander McQueen brought busters as a hoc idea when short of runway filling costume. His art was exceptional gearing of the traits and it showed perhaps the onset or preset of greed avarice hidden allegories which now beset the globe which he had not cared for in so far as it belittled tradecraft.
The same can be said of Karl Lagerfield. The remainder such as Giovanni Versace Ralph Lauren etc, are of the glamour magpie camp and discolor and remove insight idea wise and it is lapped up throughout the world of uniform clothes merchandising.
What you see on this travelogue of the Twentieth century is rarely a glimpse of the past but a record of collections and reputation all shifts. It harmonica sees and juxtaposes while being harmless frippery.
It lifts the lid on nothing insightfully unrecognized yet is pleasant and sidewinding. Never will iris be recalled as plain and she has an admirable eye for the detail as sculpture with the ability to acquire for no other reason than that hoards of splendid things.
Stravinsky, Diaghilev, Nijinsky combined sets of extravagant exuberant panoply for a reason which this shines towards but the fact is Firebird resulted. Other balletic interpretations existed whereas here none is apparent other than the capability to convey to a wider audience – commendable though that is in the educational sense – the intrinsic beauty that surrounds us and structure being a dismantable cradle which it is criminal to ignore
To be seen at QFT Belfast from Friday 31 July 2015 to Thursday 6th August 2015.