• Iris
  • Sarah Willmott



IRIS, was my Monday morning last week.  And, I can’t think of a Monday morning I’ve enjoyed more… 

So much to take away from this wonderful documentary film, shot (on and off) over four years, by the late, great Albert Maysles. I promise there truly is something for everyone here.

I expected lots of witty quips and kooky outfits, but I certainly did not expect the range of emotions I experienced in the 83 minutes.  Overall, it was JOY.

I was already an Iris fan, but still, so much to learn.  Like Iris: Interior Designer to nine presidents (yes, nine) including the Kennedy Administration.  In fact, Carl was about to spill the beans on some juicy gossip about Mrs Kennedy, before she reminded him that they’re not supposed to talk about that.  Carl, wanted to though.  And don’t even get me started on those archival pics: Iris in Capri in the 70’s, Iris in Paris in the 60’s, Iris haggling in alleys around the world, in search of treasures… And, always in those signature frames.  Always. 

Her love and unfaltering devotion to Carl, the love of her life, currently 101 not out, shone bright throughout the entire film, as does her boundless energy and work ethic – no doubt forged as a child of middle class, Jewish parents, growing up in Depression Era Astoria, Queens, NY.  My goodness, that woman does not stop: she takes up to 50 phone calls a day, is still designing jewellery ranges, mentoring fashion students, regularly out and about on the streets in search of bargains, endless meetings and TV appearances, and she’s about to turn 94!  I felt energized just watching her on film.  She does admit to occasionally feeling tired and ponders the party ending at some point, but counters that with the energy she derives from being creative and relevant. 

I adored the voyeuristic glimpse into their living spaces (Park Avenue to Palm Beach): all of them part Disneyland, part Fantasy Island, part museum, part Hoarders: the Couture edit, and then there’s the storage facilities… Iris is already planning her legacy, and thank goodness for that!

Iris and Carl are adorable as a couple.  Iris is many, many things: witty, intelligent, honest, fun, energetic, and creative.  But above all, Iris is authentic.  Any they don’t make them like that anymore.

Happy 94th Birthday Iris, and may there be many, many more.

W x

Iris’s musings, on:

STYLE: “Taste you can learn, but style is like charisma. You know it when you see it”

“I don’t do run-of-the-mill stuff, and I don’t do minimal.”

CARL: “He was cool, he was cuddly, and he cooked Chinese, so I couldn’t do any better” 

COLOUR: “Color can raise the dead!”

DENIM JEANS: “I’m mad for denim. It’s railroad chic”  

NB: In the 40’s Iris teamed her boy’s denim jeans (she was the first to wear jeans as fashion attire) with a turban, and statement earrings.  Of course she did.






  • Sarah Willmott

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