‘Accidental Icon’ Iris Apfel Signs With Big-Time Modeling Agency IMG at the Age of 97

Iris Apfel signed with IMG at 97
Iris Apfel poses backstage at "My Life On A Diet" at the Theatre at St Clement's Church on September 9, 2018 in New York City. Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

Could Iris Apfel be the oldest model ever signed to a major modeling agency? IMG Models announced they signed the 97-year-old “accidental icon” on Thursday, January 31.

“I’m very excited. I never had a proper agent,” she told Women’s Wear Daily. Home to superstars like Ashley Graham, Hailey Baldwin and Gigi and Bella Hadid, the management company will represent Apfel for modeling, appearances and endorsements.

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Apfel made a name for herself as a businesswoman and interior designer who launched her own textile company, Old World Weavers, back in the 1950s. She continued to grow her status, working on nine White House restoration projects.

“I’m a do-it-yourself girl. I never expected my life would take this turn, so I never prepared for it,” she said in her interview with WWD. “It all just happened so suddenly, and I thought at my tender age, I’m not going to set up offices and get involved with all kinds of things. I thought it was a flash in the pan and it’s not going to last.”

Even though she’s never had a “proper” representation, she’s no rookie. Apfel starred in campaigns for Kate Spade and MAC Cosmetics as well editorials for publications like Vogue Italia. At 91, she covered Dazed & Confused and became the oldest person ever to be featured in a cover story.

Iris Apfel
Iris Apfel attends the 22nd Annual Accessories Council ACE Awards at Cipriani 42nd Street on June 11, 2018 in New York City. Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

As a stylish older woman, she’s gained many fans amongst the younger millennial demographic, as well as professionals in the fashion industry including designer Tommy Hilfiger who is the one that connected her with IMG.

However her authentic and bold esthetic is only part of her appeal. Her pluckiness to stay active and busy is something a lot of people look up to. “I don’t think a number should make any difference and make you stop working,” she told WWD. However, she’s never tried to make herself relevant. She just is who she is. And people love it.

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“Iris is an icon with immeasurable talent,” said president of IMG Models, Ivan Bart. “She radiates creativity and inspiration and we’re so excited to explore new and unique opportunities with her, where her natural gifts can be shared with the world. At 97 years old, Iris continues to prove that age is just a number and shouldn’t be something that defines you.”

She completely agrees, telling WWD that she loves working and doesn’t want to stop. “I think retirement is a fate worse than death. I love to work, and love my work.” We have a feeling “too old” is a phrase she’s never had and never will use.

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