Meet the women lighting up London in the spirit of fashion icon Iris Apfel

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LIFE magazineColour Walk

Meet the women lighting up London in the spirit of fashion icon Iris Apfel

With Iris' passing, mature women felt the loss of the influencer who proved that big flowers and huge frills are not age-prohibitive.

Brigit Grant is the Jewish News Supplements Editor

When Iris Apfel died in March aged 102, the world lost one of its brightest colours. Honing a feel for fashion as she watched her Russian-born mother run a New York clothes boutique, Iris was only 11 when she started building her collection of vintage bags and costume jewellery bought in flea markets that was shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2005.

One of the first women to wear jeans, at 28 Iris married Carl, together launching Old World Weavers, a textiles business producing replicas of antique fabric. Already a celebrity in New York it, was Albert Maysle’s documentary, Iris, that made her a star, and appearing as Vogue’s cover girl aged 96 made her an icon.

Never afraid to flex her colour muscles, Iris lied the blinds on grey senior dressing by wearing canary yellow and poppy red. With her passing, mature women felt the loss of the influencer who proved that big flowers and huge frills are not age prohibitive.

Thankfully the philosophy of Iris Apfel – “I like big and bold and a lot of pizzazz” – lives on with the dressers on the Colour Walk at London’s Spitalfields Market on the third Thursday of each month.

So sad were we when theatrical Iris left the stage, Life magazine set about finding women who walked in her colourful shoes. Many responded to the enquiry suggesting eccentrically-dressed cousins and aunts, until Evelyn Wynne and others pointed to mile end.

Photos by Adam Soller Photography.


Sue Kreitzman, a rainbow in human form, founded The Colour Walk 20 years ago and has become a local celebrity in Mile End, overshadowing plaques for Samuel Pepys and Captain Cook. Her Cleopatra-style necklace, emblazoned with ‘Founder’, symbolises her love for colour, a passion shared by her vibrant followers who resemble tropical birds posing for tourists and film crews.

An American Jewish woman, Sue leads with a quiet command, always complimenting fellow dressers, including other Jewish women. They’ve embraced fearless, colourful attire over conventional fashion, forming a unique bond. Married for 62 years with a son, Sue describes her age as “somewhere between my mid-80s and eternity”. She moved to the UK in 1986, transitioning from inner-city schoolteacher to food writer, authoring 27 cookbooks, running a cooking school and cooking on TV until an epiphany at 58 redirected her to art.

Now, Sue creates memory jugs and neck shrines and mentors young artists. “I was born with a rainbow in my head,” she giggles. “Always a colourful dresser, always odd jewellery, always strutting my stuff.” Mentored by the New York Philharmonic as a child oboist, Sue’s penchant for colour meant their black attire was never for her.

Sue and her summer solstice necklace

Sue’s striking presence at Spitalfields Market inspired like-minded dressers to gather, first informally, then officially when her friend Florent Bidois formalised the meets.

The Colour Walk celebrates camaraderie, creativity and supporting market traders, from whom they buy outfit materials. Sue designs her own clothes, stitched by a local tailor. As for shoes, she says: “My feet are terrible,” so she sports colourful Crocs decorated with Native American beadwork and Mexican folk art.

Living in vibrant colour, Sue, affectionately known as the ‘Colourful Lady’ by her Mile End neighbours, says: “The East End is full of characters. I am just one more happy weirdo.”


“I’m 65 and don’t believe I’ve ever felt as comfortable with the way I look as I do now,” says Sandra Phillips, who uses her body as a canvas and clothes as the paint, always standing out on Colour Walk, which she joined post-pandemic in June 2021.

“I found people who, like me, dress this way every day. I had found my tribe and felt a sense of community that I had never felt anywhere else.”

After 23 moves, Sandra is now back in Mile End, the homestead of her Jewish family, who had clothing factories in Spitalfields and Shoreditch. Living near friend Sue Kreitzman and the familiar faces of Roman Road Market, Sandra has truly returned to her roots.

Her wardrobe, meticulously arranged by colour and category, includes everything from authentic vintage to charity shop finds and designer bargains. “I could probably open a shop, but I love all clobber I own and I wear everything,” shares Sandra, whose mother was involved in Carnaby Street in the 60s.

Sandra’s career highlight was working for Miles Copeland, manager of The Police in the 80s. Later, she and her husband Rob worked as chef and housekeeper on a private estate before starting their own computer business. Sandra also qualified as a helicopter ground crew member, flying to lighthouses in the Atlantic. However the loss of her husband in 2016 was a turning point.

“For quite some time, I had been his carer and kind of lost myself,” she says, blinking behind huge frames. Encouraged by her daughter, Sandra rediscovered her love of drawing. She documents her outfits daily in a sketchbook she shares. “Instead of selfies, I do a quick illustration of what I’m wearing. It’s become a form of therapy and self-expression.”

Sandra’s fashion philosophy is simple: wear what makes you happy. “I love colour-blocking, monochrome, black and white, clashing colours; I’m not afraid of colour and I’ll wear it if I like it and I think it suits me,” she declares, proving it’s never too late to embrace who you truly are. “If Rob hadn’t died, I would not be what I am today. That is his gift to me. I am free to be me without the label or baggage of being Rob’s wife, Rob’s carer, Rob’s widow. I am Sandra!”



WIN a day with Sandra Phillips in London. She will take you shopping for second-hand clothes and accessories, creating a new outfit and look for you. The day will end with photos that she will send to you, along with an illustration of you in your new outfit. To enter, visit


Michelle and Annalie

As Colour Walk’s dynamic duo, Michelle Huberman and Annalie Huberman-Hertz bring a mother-daughter bond to a group that feels like family. The monthly Thursday event is more than just a gathering for them; it’s a wellspring of inspiration. “We talk about what we’ve made, the techniques used, and how we’ve put it together. I always come back buzzing with ideas for the next meet-up,” says Michelle. Her life has always been steeped in fashion. “My family on both sides were in the business (Aubrey Segal Ltd) and, from the age of eight, I spent school holidays helping in the factory in Little Portland Street, doing things like making swatch books and sorting trimmings. When they had fashion shows, I dressed and styled the models.”

As a teenager, Michelle made her own “crazy clothes”, leading to people asking where she had bought them. She then impressively created her collections and opened factories in London and Paris. During the 80s, she also launched her book, Fashion Magic – Fun Ways to Transorm Your Clothes, which got her on TV and the business thrives to this day.

Michelle, 65, is also the creative director of Harif, a charity promoting the history and culture of Jews from North Africa and the Middle East. She owns a spinoff company, Harif Henna Events, which handles decor and production for Sephardi weddings.

Michelle’s home, which she describes as an Aladdin’s cave of Middle Eastern artifacts, reflects her interests. “Numerous holidays in Morocco have had me schlepping back Berber headdresses, textiles and, once, even a door!” she laughs. “I’ve always had Moroccan-style parties with tents made out of my sequinned hamsas.”

Unsurprisingly, Michelle has significantly influenced Annalie. “I can’t escape it. I’ve grown up in a colourful home. My mum has always made me colourful outfits and headwear for Colour Walk. She dresses the dogs, too, when they come along! The rest of the time, I wear normal stuff.”

Annalie, 32, born with Down Syndrome, leads a full and active life, juggling two jobs and voluntary work. “I got my job with YO! Sushi after being on the TV series Kitchen Impossible with Michel Roux Jr, who taught me the hospitality trade. Recently, Annalie joined Drag Syndrome, the world’s first drag troupe featuring drag queens and kings with Down Syndrome, and she is touring with them. A new interest in belly dancing was sparked by her mum always playing Middle Eastern music. “When I was small, she had belly dancers at her parties. I wanted to be one too, so now I go to classes and think I’m very good at it!”

Michelle had heard about the Walk, but a chance meeting with Sandra confirmed she would love it and she went with Annalie, who admits: “I didn’t want to go at first, but now I love it as the people are lovely and always interested in what I do.”

Michelle’s clothes for the events are from markets and charity shops, restyled and embellished. “I can’t resist trimmings and exotic fabrics, which I’ve collected from all over the world,” she says, while Annalie takes a more pragmatic approach to her Colour Walk clothes. “My mum buys them for me.”


Of all the many artists at Colour Walk, Michelle Baharier has had the most recognition. An award-winning graduate of the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art, Michelle has made a name for herself, notably through her work addressing disability discrimination and prejudice. Her solo exhibition, How Do I Make You Feel?, at The Foundry Gallery in London last year, was critically acclaimed and she has received the Glaxo Smith Kline Impact Award.

At 61, Michelle’s colourful and eclectic style is deeply rooted in her upbringing. Her mother, who ran a toy stall five days a week, also worked for a German fashion designer. “From the cabbage [leftover fabric] she taught me how to make clothes and made them for us. I had wet-look purple hotpants, as well as a reversible cloak. She always made sure we looked unique.”

Michelle’s style was further shaped by her punk rock phase and DIY take on fashion, which played a crucial role in her acceptance to art school. “Due to my dyslexia, I did not have the required A-levels to go. But they were impressed by my leg-of-lamb sleeves in corduroy with a high neck and let me into the Slade.”

Michelle Bahari art

Her family’s Sephardic-Portuguese heritage has a significant influence on her life and work. They moved to Camberwell Green from Brick Lane in 1919, following her great-grandfather’s tram-driving job. Michelle’s great-aunt Ettie, who was the oldest Jewish woman in the UK at 111 when she died, was a seamstress who crafted clothes for the family. “She was disabled from birth, but became a seamstress and made many of the family’s clothes, including my brothers’ barmitzvah suits,” says Michelle, who still lives in Camberwell Green.

She is deeply rooted in her Jewish heritage and it informs her art; last year she participated in a show themed around ‘Carnival’ and created a painting titled We are all Queen Esther, inspired by Purim and reflecting contemporary Jewish experiences, especially in light of recent antisemitism since October 7.

Her ties to Israel run deep, with immediate family, including brother Daniel Baharier, a prominent sculptor, residing in Tel Aviv. Michelle spent time on Kibbutz Netzer Sereni and collaborated with Daniel on an installation titled Lennon’s On Sale Again at Yeffet 28 Jaffo. “I love Israel – it’s a place of many memories and deep connections for me,” she says.

Michelle’s work is widely showcased, including on five billboards in Croydon. As a member of multiple artist collectives and an ambassador for Outside-In, she remains a staunch advocate for disability arts and inclusion. Her involvement with Colour Walk has been particularly enriching, fostering friendships and providing platforms to exhibit her art.

“A friend dragged me along, but did not like it. However, I was interested as I looked like many of the other people there.

“I have built up many friendships and even had help to show my art. The variety of people is amazing, so there is something to learn from everyone.”


Rosie Sandler refused to leave Mish Aminoff lingering on the sidelines of the Colour Walk because she wanted her to experience the atmosphere from the inside.

Rosie’s own Colour Walk journey began in October 2021, and she hasn’t missed a month since. An avid seamstress, she makes many of her own clothes that are so distinct they spark conversations with strangers.

Married to Andrew for 34 years, they have two children, one of whom still lives at home. “Our household is characterised by neurodiversity, so it’s been a journey to get to a calmer, happier place for all of us.”

After many years as a sub-editor for consumer magazines, Rosie transitioned into full-time writing and is now the author of The Gardener Mysteries, a cosy crime series about the adventures of a gardener and her dog, Mouse.

Growing up in Manchester, Rosie went through a ‘gothish’ phase, enjoying bands such as The Cult. “I’d dress as a goth for one club night, then wear bright leggings and a giant T-shirt for another. Whatever I wore, it always had to allow me to cut loose on the dance floor.”

The author was pretty much always a colourful dresser. “I used to cut up clothes from my grandmother’s wardrobe – with her permission! – and adapt them to suit my style. I now regret how many lovely dresses I destroyed with my eager scissors!”

For Rosie, the Colour Walk is a sanctuary for artists, designers and enthusiasts. “In a world that feels increasingly damaged and frightening, it is wonderful to be around kind, accepting, non-judgmental people.

“It’s important for creatives to come together, to inspire one another, and there is also so much laughter and smiling it sets me up for the month ahead.”

The Gardener Mysteries (available on


As a multidisciplinary artist and photographer whose favourite accessories are a roomy Japanese hat and fuchsia flip-flop earrings, Mish Aminoff found her natural place on Colour Walk.

Mish always has her camera on the walk, but she blends her photography with material from old family albums that dances beside blogs on her website, which may be intentional as Mish is a mover who does salsa and sings with Nossa Voz, a London-based Brazilian vocal group.

A mother of two and married to Stephen, Mish, 66, lives in a flat in a converted church in Kentish Town with a mezuzah on the door. Fashion has always been her passion, with a wardrobe of black accented with colour. Although she usually wears practical shoes – trainers or Birkenstocks – she has special occasion shoes from Souliers Sylvia in Paris, known for retro-inspired Mary Janes, and dresses by British designer Katya Wildman, who uses Liberty prints.

Photo by Mish Aminoff
Mish in Katya Wildman


As a teen, Mish shopped at Biba and, at 16, was inspired by activist Angela Davis’ natural Afro, leading her to cut her long frizzy hair at Vidal Sassoon. “It didn’t go down too well until a friend at Biba told me to take that silly hat off! That resolve to embrace authenticity and free myself from high maintenance is still very much alive.”

Since April 2022, Mish has been a Colour Walk regular, first as a photographer, then as a participant after Rosie Sandler invited her to join the group photo. “It’s a very accepting space, where gender, race and age are celebrated rather than judged,” explains Mish.

“The community, with individuals who have overcome adversity and bereavement, also contradicts the invisibility many experience as they age, which I have personally felt. It’s nice to be so bright and colourful that people notice you, smile, and appreciate the positivity. I regularly have people of all ages come up to me and say they love my outfit, and I enjoy that spontaneous interaction. Colours are powerful!”

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