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Iris Apfel breaks into tech with WiseWear bracelets, life advice

Silicon Valley, watch out: One New Yorker is here to disrupt your wearables. And did we mention she's 94 years old?

Iris Apfel — seen at front rows at worldwide Fashion Weeks and now more widely recognized than ever, thanks to the 2015 documentary "Iris" -- is taking her eccentric, enviable style into the 21st century.

An icon for fashionistas of all ages, Apfel, who uses an iPhone, is breaking into the wearable tech industry in a partnership with WiseWear, with which she designed a line of bracelets that sync with your smartphone and still look like part of your outfit.

Photo Credit: WiseWear

"All of the technological jewelry I've seen so far has been pretty ugly," Apfel said during a breakfast launch party at the Carlyle Hotel. "It all goes with sweatpants."

That means no Apple Watch or Fitbit for Apfel. "I thought it would be nice if we married high tech with high fashion," she said of the new line of jewelry. Palladium and gold bracelets start at $295, and Apfel is planning more "aspirational and elaborate pieces" in a much higher price range.

"When this project was presented to me, I thought it was extremely worthwhile," Apfel said of her collaboration with WiseWear, though she's not using the fitness tracker and Smartphone sync as much as one particular feature.

"I never drink enough," she said. " And I don't mean booze, I don't drink enough water. I'm always running around and doing something and I've had occasions where I'm walking in the street and I get very light-headed. It's frightening," she said. To solve this, Apfel sets alerts to remind her to hydrate -- and that's not just a feature for nonagenarians. "This is a wonderful help. I have a lot of young friends who suffer from the same thing -- it's not an age-related problem," she said.

For her first line of tech jewelry, Apfel designed the pieces "the way I go about designing anything: I get ideas."

But don't ask her where she finds her design inspiration. "That's a crock -- you don't find inspiration, I'm always inspired," she said. "I wake up in the morning and that's inspiration enough, at my age."

Apfel designed the versatile line to match
Photo Credit: WiseWear

Apfel designed the versatile line to match pretty much any outfit. "You'll be able to wear them if you go to a cocktail party, if you're going to business you won't have to hide them under a sweater," she said. " I think they're very attractive and I think a wonderful idea, everybody seems to think so."

No matter what outfit you're pairing your WiseWear with, don't expect to run into Apfel at your favorite neighborhood spot. "All I can tell you is I try to avoid trendy spots, they're too noisy ... and it's ridiculous," she said. "Now if a new restaurant opens, I don't ask what the food is like. I ask what's the noise level, because they have that awful rock music playing." Apfel, who said that people are just paying ridiculous prices to be insulted by noise, prefers to socialize in her friends' homes, but she doesn't have much time to "sit around and yak."

"If I do go out to dinner to be out with friends, I want to talk with them," Apfel said. "Nobody seems to talk anymore, all they do is press buttons ... I don't get it."

Apfel, who was married to Carl Apfel for 68 years before he died in 2015, believes communication is key to any relationship. WiseWear's slogan of "Lose the screen, not the moment," suits her philosophy.

"I feel the way young people behave is a bit strange," Apfel said. "If you went out on a date in my day, you sat and talked, you wanted to get to know one another. Nobody gets to know each other except in bed, I guess, and it's your fault."


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