Famously called the world’s oldest model, Carmen Dell’Orefice is 85 years old this year but the beauty icon continues to show us that beauty never ages. She still blows our minds with her breathtaking looks ideally suitable for modelling roles.
The American supermodel and actress made Vogue front page at the age of 16 in 1947. Nonetheless, she keeps rocking the fashion industry where 30 is often considered old.
Her more than 65-year-old career in the fashion world started out at a very young age of 13. She was out riding a bus to ballet class when the wife of photographer Herman Landschoff approached her.
However, her test photos which were taken by Jones Beach went down like a lead balloon. The smart child from a not-so-rich home went on with life. Since her family was not financially buoyant, she took up casual jobs to help her parents out financially.
While waiting for jobs, the gangly teenager joined her father’s regular jamming soirees. Her Father was an adept jazz musician. On one of the music sessions; the fourteen-year-old loosely built girl who sat by her father’s feet caught the fancy of one of the audience at the informal gathering who was a well-connected member of Manhattan’s fashion crowd.
The Manhattan’s fashion member thought the youngster had a look that was suitable for photos. Thankfully, in 1946, she was introduced to Vogue and she signed a modelling deal of $7.50 an hour at 15. Since 1947, Carmen Dell’Orefice has been a Vogue cover girl many times.
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Carmen Dell’Orefice A Charmer
The fashion legend won the heart of photographer Erwin Blumenfeld, becoming his favourite model after he shot her first Vogue cover in 1946. But the take home pay from the modelling contract couldn’t still cover the needs of Dell’Orefice’s family. They had no telephone, so Vogue had to send runners to their home to inform Dell’Orefice about modelling jobs. The influential model even had to skate to errands to save on bus fares. She and her mother were also gifted seamstresses and made extra cash from sewing and designing clothes. As her career progressed, more money began to stream in.
She landed several contracts, appearing on December 15, 1947; the issue of US Vogue as Little Red Riding Hood; Snow White and Cinderella alongside model Dorian Leigh; actors Ray Bolger and Jose Ferrer. In spite of the huge successes, her early modelling career later experienced some setbacks.
Eileen Ford refused to represent her and Vogue didn’t find her fascinating anymore.
Carmen Dell’Orefice Never Gave Up
But it was a matter of time before Carmen Dell’Orefice got back on track, grabbing a contract in catalogues; modelling lingerie at $300 per hour. Later on, she joined the Ford Modelling Agency in 1953. In 1958, she gave up on the fashion world.
After her third divorce in 1978, Dell’Orefice found it necessary to hit back into the modelling business. This time, she actually worked more than ever before. Between the 1990s and 2000s, she signed more contracts; working for Isaac Mizrahi’s clothing line at Target as well as Cho Cheng and Rolex.
She also featured in many advertising campaigns in Vogue; W and Harper’s Bazaar.
“Fortunately, there was always somebody who knew I was good when I showed up, was responsible, not temperamental, and could do the job well. Today I am in a territory that business considers unmarketable: age and white hair. Slowly, however; I started to own that territory little by little because I stood up for age. I hope I’ve helped women get out of the closet about ageing, She said.”
The fashion genius celebrated her 80th birthday in 2011. The next month she was decorated with an honorary doctorate from the University of the Arts London for her contribution to the fashion industry.
Check out the video below to see the living fashion celebrity’s recent runway highlights; gallivanting about the runway all the more remarkable like she was 18. Also, you need to hear what she has to say about the definition of beauty.
Yes, her knees are not weak and she does not wobble. Reports say she has had a two knee replacement.