Shop Talk

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Iris Apfel brings new handbags to Roslyn

Business partners Lisa Nunziata and Iris Apfel show

Business partners Lisa Nunziata and Iris Apfel show off their new line of Extinction handbags at Shag in Roslyn. (Oct. 5, 2012) (Credit: Nina Ruggiero)

Iris Apfel knows how to make an entrance.

The 91-year-old designer and style icon walked into Shag boutique in Roslyn Friday afternoon in flaired jeans, colorful beaded jewelry and her signature oversized shades and found herself immediately surrounded by fans.

Apfel, a self-proclaimed "accessory freak," was in town to show off her new line of Extinction handbags with business partner Lisa Nunziata.

Apfel said she was drawn to working with Nunziata after seeing her keen attention to detail and quality interior finishes on her other handbag collections.

"[Nunziata] told me, 'I was talking to my staff and we decided I'm the last of an old breed,'" Apfel said. "I said well if you're the last of an old breed, I must already be extinct."

And thus a brand name was born.

The partners searched through photos of dinosaurs for a logo, but they "couldn't find one that was either pretty or sexy," Apfel said.

Finally they settled on the extinct Dodo bird for a tag that hangs from each bag.

"We felt like we had to be true to Iris' personality, which is always avant-garde and colorful," Nunziata said of the collection, which includes PETA-friendly Mongolian lamb fur bags in red, orange, green, blue and black. The large red version is Apfel's favorite.

"I think you have to learn who you are and what you really like and what you're comfortable with and not try to be a slave to fashion," Apfel said. "It's so much fun to be yourself; I don't know why everyone wants to be like everybody else. "

Other bags feature snakeskin patterns and calf hair in smaller sizes for evening and some even come in sleek, office-ready shapes. Even the oversized bags are conveniently compartmentalized, and prices start at $228.

"We tried to be practical while being chic at the same time, because I think things that are totally impractical are not very stylish," Apfel said.

The line was introduced to the public in September at Henri Bendel's Fashion's Night Out event in Manhattan, just another event on Apfel's busy schedule.

In recent years she has come out with her own line of makeup for MAC, jewelry for HSN and eyewear for Eyebobs.

"I sometimes run on empty, but I run," she said. "I just will it I guess. At 91 it's not as easy as it was when I was 30, although I must say it's pretty good."

Apfel's face lights up when she hears about all the young people who worship her style. Samantha Shaw, Alexis Bittar's director of public relations, even has Apfel's likeness tattooed on her wrist.

"I love it," she said with a smile. "It's a lot of fun."

And for Apfel, fun is what fashion is all about.

"I think people make the mistake of taking fashion too seriously and worrying about it too much," she said. "I think you have to have fun with it and then you have a good time yourself and you make other people happy. People like to look at you if you look interesting."

Apfel will host a meet and greet and show her Extinctions line again this Friday at Henri Bendel in Manhattan from 6 to 8 p.m.

A variety of styles of Extinction handbags are on display at Shag in Roslyn. (Oct. 5, 2012)

Shag New York owners Ann Corn and Randi Butwin pose at their store with style icon Iris Apfel. (Oct. 5, 2012)

Shag customer Amy Paston poses with Iris Apfel and her new Extinctions handbag at Shag in Roslyn. (Oct. 5, 2012)

Main photo: Business partners Lisa Nunziata and Iris Apfel show off their new line of Extinction handbags at Shag in Roslyn. (Oct. 5, 2012)

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