Young style muses, like Lily-Rose Depp and Hailey Baldwin, may be fashion’s latest crop of sweethearts. But icons of the trade, like 85-year-old model Carmen Dell’Orefice — who glided effortlessly down the runway at Paris Couture Fashion Week on Wednesday — prove that beauty, poise, and great style are ageless.
The American model, who turned 85 in June, closed out Chinese couturier Guo Pei’s show in Paris wearing a sweeping, crystal-embellished red lace gown and holding her crown-topped head high. Escorted by two young men, expertly described by Elle writer R. Eric Thomas as “two Vine stars dressed like Prince Charming meets Prince,” Dell’Orefice put a sophisticated, regal exclamation point on an already opulent show.
Take a closer look at that crown, and also revel in Dell’Orefice’s dazzling cheekbones.
Dell’Orefice was first pictured on the cover of Vogue at age 15 — in 1946 — and went on to appear there four times throughout her career.
“I’ve always considered myself a silent actress,” the “oldest working model” once told Vogue. “The story line is what a photograph is all about.”
Indeed, if anyone has proven that it’s possible to turn a fashion editorial into fine art, it’s this woman. With a career spanning more than 70 years, Dell’Orefice has been photographed by everyone from Jerry Schatzberg to Horst P. Horst and walked the runway for designers including John Galliano and Isaac Mizrahi.
Tragically, though, part of the reason Dell’Orefice has continued to work for so long is that about six years ago she learned she’d been a victim of Bernie Madoff’s infamous ponzi scheme and had lost her life’s fortune.
“What I had left was myself,” she said of her return to fashion in an interview with The Insider. “I let my industry know that I would like to work.”
And work she did — and she has since been running the show. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade.