Iris Apfel on fashion, tech and what really makes a woman look old

CNN  — 

Even at 96 Iris Apfel shows little interest in slowing down. Over the past six decades, the self-described “geriatric starlet” has built a career in textiles, interior design (including White House restorations) and, more recently, turned her hand to fashion, with jewelry and a ready-to-wear clothing line.

In 2005, Apfel’s personal clothing collection went on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The show revealed her penchant for mixing haute couture and flea market finds, and a whimsical approach to combining colors, textures and patterns. An enduring style icon, she is known for her bold, glamorous looks and signature glasses.

“I have so many (projects),” she told CNN from her hotel room at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong. These include a book, a new clothing line and, potentially, a Barbie doll.

“I go at it full, I’m very passionate about what I do. I put my heart and soul (into things) and it feeds me. I push myself until I can’t anymore and then come back again for more. I’m a glutton for punishment,” Apfel explained.

‘The world is becoming so homogenized’

Her first visit to the Asian metropolis was part of the Landmark’s year-long Wisdom campaign. The New York designer collaborated with young, local talent on accessories and, in a public forum, discussed the topic of individuality in the fashion industry, which she feels has been impacted negatively by the “spoon-fed” and “instantaneous” nature of social media.

“I think it’s too damn nosy. I don’t give a damn what you ate, and I don’t care who you’re sleeping with, if you’re so lucky. It’s an enormous waste of time, but people can’t live without it. They keep pressing the buttons and getting all this ridiculous information … The world is becoming so homogenized,” she observed.

“For the last three seasons of cold weather in New York, every young woman (was) dressed the same. Black leather bomber jacket, black tights, high black boots, long hair tied in a ponytail … It’s very boring. I think difference is what’s so interesting.”

Watch Iris Apfel’s candid interview in the video above.