Well-known and colorful fashion icon, Iris Apfel is a visiting professor at The University of Texas at Austin and the inspiration for the decade-old UT in NYC program. In it, she introduces students primarily from UT’s Textiles and Apparel Division to every aspect of the fashion world, including leading stars of the industry.
And now, Apfel, 98, stars as herself in a new coloring book.
IRIS the Coloring Book hits shelves today and represents a multi-year labor of love by UT faculty, staff, alumni and students. All proceeds from sales of the book will go towards scholarships for students in the UT in NYC program.
The premium biographical coloring book is filled with whimsical drawings and Apfel’s witty sayings, which illustrate her unlikely journey from textile executive to fashion darling and style savant.
The UT in NYC program began in 2011 as an experiential learning program to shows students the full spectrum of the fashion industry, from publishing and production to design and marketing. Apfel’s close relationships with leaders in the industry enable students to not only learn about careers in design, merchandising and retail, but to meet some of the most well known leaders of fashion. Figures such as Tommy Hilfiger and Donna Karan invite students into boardrooms, workrooms, showrooms and curatorial spaces to explain how they’ve built their careers and grown their businesses.
“Our students call their experience with Iris ‘life-changing,'” said faculty member and UT in NYC program director Nancy Prideaux. “It opens their eyes to the breadth of the fashion industry and which path might be theirs. One-on-one interaction with Iris gives them a chance to ask her questions, soak up her wisdom and enjoy her sense of fun!”
In the mold of Iris Apfel herself, both the book and UT in NYC have been attracting media attention. In the Austin American-Statesman, alumna Clarissa Garcia (B.S. ’18), a 2017 participant in UT in NYC, described the impact of the program on her trajectory towards better understanding her options and eventually becoming a showroom coordinator for Ralph Lauren in New York.
“UT in NYC allowed me to have a shop-around experience to see what fits my personality and strengths,” she said. And Apfel herself is a big part of the draw. “Being around her is really inspiring,” Garcia added.
Another textiles and apparel alumna, Kelly Framel (B.S. ’05) illustrated the book.
The oversized book is embossed in gold and printed in the United States on premium card stock. Purchases may be made through the University Co-op for $45, and the book is being promoted on Instagram, where Iris Apfel has 1.4 million followers.