85-year-old American model, fashion icon, and legend, Carmen Dell’Orefice, is still going strong, though her modeling career has spanned over 70 years. The daughter of an Italian immigrant musician father and a Hungarian ballerina mother, in 1946 at the age of 15, Dell’Orefice signed a modeling contract with Vogue. You might think that was hitting the big time, but although she was getting covers, she was still only being paid $7.50 an hour. By that time, her parents were living apart. Since she and her mom were too broke to afford a telephone, Vogue had to send runners to their apartment to notify her about modeling jobs. She even rollerskated to assignments to save the bus fare. That must have been a sight.
Humble beginnings notwithstanding, she was soon the darling of some of the most iconic fashion photographers of our time, including Irving Penn, Francesco Scavullo, and Richard Avedon. She was known as one of Salvador Dali’s favorite muses, and she has been featured on countless fashion magazine covers.
“I’ve had more covers in the last 15 years than in my entire career before that.”
Although she has tried to retire from the industry a number of times, the first time after only 15 years, she gets pulled back in every time. Dell’Orefice continues to be very much in demand for both editorial and runway work. Seems like the fashion world can’t get along without her.