- CHARITY BENEFIT
By Jordan Rogas
Iris Apfel, a true Renaissance woman, takes on role as Professor Apfel this week as she introduces The University of Texas fashion students to the experts and icons of fashion and design. Iris escorts the students during a weeks stay at The Waldorf-Astoria, behind some of the most exclusive doors in the fashion industry. The list of speakers ranges from Carlos Falchi, Martha Stewart, Oscar de la Renta to Linda Fargo.
Iris and students first stop Tuesday morning was “Old World Weavers” in the D&D Building. Stark Carpet acquired Iris and husband Carl’s textile company and “baby”, ‘Old World Weavers’, over twenty years ago. Iris is no stranger to the showroom or staff and still keeps in tune with the latest happenings of the company.
Iris and Carmen Bruni, Stark Fabric Showroom manager and long time friend, showcased examples of fashion designers using interior fabrics in their designs. Iris told the students, “if you want to be truly original and create interesting design, you have to look outside your field.” This was the advice told to her by David Rappaport in the very beginning of her career. Working with handcrafts, exploring techniques and material, and seeking out the unusual are keys to design success.
Iris and Carl through ‘Old World Weavers’ fostered hand craft artisans and small luxury mills but hand production in design is a dying business “the mentality is terrible these days,” Iris counsels the students that “there are so many things in this business you can do with your hands and they can bring you huge returns and satisfaction, but you have to take time to learn.”
Iris and husband Carl Apfel founded Old Word Weavers, in 1954, largely thanks to the commission and encouragement of interior design legend, Dorothy Draper. Dedicated to the highest quality and hand production, ‘Old World Weavers’ was renowned in the design industry for locating and replicating antique textiles, as well producing their own unique patterns. Commissions both commercial and residential included the 9 different presidents in the White House, The Washington Senate, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Frick, and the personal homes of Estee Lauder, Marjorie Merriwether Post, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis- to name a few.
The ‘Old World Weavers’ hand-woven raw silk velvet tiger print, at $2,700 a yard, serves as a perfect sample to the cross-disciplinary attitude Iris exemplifies. A premier textile of “Old World Weavers” the pattern was fashioned into an ensemble for Iris, created in the sixties and on display at the MET exhibition Rara Avis: The Rare Bird of Fashion, can also be found in her interior designs, and revived again on the runways in 2004 with Ralph Rucci. Rucci, like many other premier designers, frequent “Old World Weaver’s” showroom and work with the staff to translate interior textiles into fashion.