Bold, colorful, different. Businesswoman, interior designer, fashion icon, visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin and a glorious rebel. Authenticity is hard and we all worry too much about what others think of us, so let’s celebrate Iris for her courage to be different.
Have you always wanted to write a book?
I never expected to write this book. I never expect anything! I just feel things in my gut and I do them. If something sounds exciting and interesting, I do it—and then worry about it later. Doing new things takes a lot of energy and strength. Sometimes it’s very tiring to make things happen, to learn how to master a skill, to push fears aside. Most people would rather just go with the flow; it’s much easier. But that’s not very interesting. And you have to be interested to be interesting. That’s how I’ve lived my life.
Since the Rara Avis exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2005 and 2015 documentary IRIS, which was nominated for an Emmy Award, you’ve become an international icon. What is it like to rise to fame in this stage of your life?
I didn’t look for recognition. People come to me to do projects and if what they’re asking me to do is new or sounds fun or creative, I’m in. It’s all about the work for me. I like to work, to do new things. If people are interested in my style, amused by my candor, or amazed by the fact that I’m still out there hoofing it in my mid-nineties, that’s great, but I never had any intention of becoming a role model on aging.
What’s your secret to longevity?
Well, I suppose it’s partly genetic. My mother lived to be 100. But the man upstairs has been quite good to me. You have to have interests. You have to develop interests, maintain a sense of curiosity about the world. And you have to soldier on. Yes, it gets harder when you get older. But you have to get up and try and move beyond any physical pain. And you have to have fun. If you’re not having any fun, you might as well be dead.
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