Iris and Tavi

Yesterday The Metropolitan Museum of Art played host to a conversation between style legend Iris Apfel, and Rookie Editor-in-Chief (and a budding style icon herself) Tavi Gevinson, in honor of the Costume Institute exhibit, “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations,” on view until August 19.

The bringing together of Tavi, aged 16, and Iris, aged 90, was an inspired pairing as each has not only a unique sense of style, but also the reputation for some hilarious one-liners. Apfel’s comments on Rei Kawakubo’s bump collection for Comme des Garçons “There’s no sense to pay a fortune and look like a freak… I can look ugly on my own and it won’t cost me a penny!” had the whole auditorium roaring.

The dialogue hit some serious notes too, however, with Gevinson declaring that ideas of good and bad taste are irrelevant, and that what matters more in style is having a sense of humor. Apfel agreed immensely, saying, “When the fun is taken out of dressing, you might as well be dead!” Both admitted their secret to braving the stares they might receive for their sometimes outlandish ensembles was to have other things on the brain; “I’m too busy doing other things I love to stop and think about what others think of my clothes,” confesses Gevinson. Even Apfel agreed that “clothing should not be the primary force of your life.”

As for Prada’s and Schiaparelli’s designs, Gevinson commented on the timelessness of Prada’s work; “Prada’s designs exist in a vacuum… with no cultural references. [Prada collections] are about power or female sexuality, not a certain time or place.” Neither Gevinson or Apfel listed Prada or Schiap as their favorite designers, with Gevinson rattling off Meadham Kirchoff, Rodarte, and Creatures of the Wind as her current obsessions (though she was wearing a Prada lips skirt, gifted to her from Miuccia), and Apfel saying that Dries van Noten, Ralph Rucci, and vintage Ferré make up large portions of her wardrobe.

By the end of the talk both Gevinson and Apfel agreed that if they were tasked with curating a Costume Institute exhibit, they would take on the ideas of style of septuagenarians and older, both referencing style blog Advanced Style as a jumping off point. Gevinson even quoted John Waters on the matter saying, “Right now there is no counter culture… The way to be rebellious today is to get old.” At sixteen, Tavi is already maturing past the rest of us.

Story/image by Steff Yotka for

To see our images from the Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations exhibit, see the story in MDX.

  1. iris et tavi m’ont toujours bien fait rigoler et ce depuis maintenant des années. c’est clair qu’elles sont inimitables.

  2. Thanks for covering this, I had no idea they were to speak! They’re both incredibly fascinating. Love everything they do. Some Prada is connected to a particular era however, but I empathize with Tavi’s proclamation.

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