Meet 92-Year-Old Carmen Dell’Orefice, One Of The Oldest Working Models


Carmen Dell’Orefice is one of the oldest working modelsCarmen Dell’Orefice is one of the oldest working models

Meet Carmen Dell’Orefice. She’s a fashion icon who has graced the cover of Vogue for decades. She started working in her early teens, continues to work today – and at 92, she’s the oldest working model in the world.

Carmen was born on June 3, 1931, in New York City, and besides modeling, her formative years were defined by financial struggles; further worsening her upbringing was her parent’s volatile relationship defined by breakups and makeups. When things were bad, Carmen stayed at foster homes. Now, in her nineties, she appeared on the cover of Vogue Czechoslovakia. Here’s how she got from there to here to make history.

Carmen Dell’Orefice on the fateful path to becoming a model

Carman was just 13 when she was discovered. The young girl was on a bus heading to ballet class. There, she was approached by the wife of photographer Herman Landschoff. They took test photos at Jones Beach but Carmem would look back on them and call the whole introduction a “flop.” But it was an introduction nonetheless.

In 1946, her godfather introduced her to Vogue, and at 15 she signed a contract for $7.50 an hour. Quickly, she became the favorite of photographer Erwin Blumenfeld, who found great success as a freelancer for Harper’s Bazaar, Life, and American Vogue.

All the while, her family barely stayed afloat, to the point where they did not own a phone and Vogue had to send people to the home to tell Carmen about new jobs. To save money on bus fares, she roller-skated to her assignments. Whatever curves she appeared to have on the camera were created; she was malnourished and fashion photographers Horst P. Horst and Cecil Beaton stuffed and pinned her dresses. The latter is something Carmen knew a thing or two about, as she and her mother were accomplished seamstresses.

Pushing through the odds

Several factors got in Carmen’s way as she pursued her dream, and most were right within her own home and personal life. She made the cover of Vogue for October 1947 and its November 1948 cover. She was also photographed by Mark Shaw for a classic Vanity Fair lingerie campaign in which Carmen used her hand to obscure her face.

Carmen was also the muse of surrealist artist Salvador Dali.

Carmen’s career continued in an on-again, off-again manner, with a hiatus throw in every so often. Yet through it all, she became a regular in Vogue, W, and Harper’s Bazaar. She has also been in campaigns for Sephora and H&M.

In 2022, Carmen posed for a nude photoshoot and, in addition to Vogue Czechoslovakia, she also appeared on Schön China and L’Officiel India. At the end of the day, age really is just a number as we strive to continue business as usual.

Even in her nineties, Carmen Dell’Orefice is still workingEven in her nineties, Carmen Dell’Orefice is still working
Even in her nineties, Carmen Dell’Orefice is still working / Art


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