Vintage Fashion Icons: Carmen Dell’Orefice

Posted on January 8th in vintage, vintage style icons. No Comments

On our blog we love to showcase actors, models, photographers, and designers who have given up inspiration in the world of vintage fashion. We also love to discover modern day models who wear the fashions from the past so well. Today, we’re doing a little bit of both! Carmen Dell’Orefice started modeling in 1946 and is still active today! Keep reading to learn about her ups and downs in the industry and take a look at some of her most amazing fashion shots.

Despite the idea that many models live a fabulous lifestyle, Dell’Orefice grew up in a family that struggled financially, to put it nicely. Although she signed a contract with Vogue at the age of 15, she still ended up rollerblading to auditions so she wouldn’t have to spend money on public transportation, and her family did not even have a telephone! In an interview, she recalled having to do her wash in the bathtub and hanging it out the window to dry however in the winter it would freeze and stick to the line. Not exactly what you’d picture of a model’s so-called “glamorous life.” Yet, she made a name for herself, and quickly became well known throughout the industry.

Throughout her career, she also signed with Ford Modeling, but not before first getting injections of hormone shots. Her frame at the time was considered too thin by many companies, and she had to almost recreate her look to keep her career going.

In terms of her personal life, Dell’Orefice’s was one of many ups and downs. Her first marriage ended after her husband started keeping the majority of her financial earnings for himself; She had one child with him. Next, she married a photographer and then made the decision to retire from modeling. At that point the husband decided to divorce her, the timing of which showed his true colors. This was followed by a third, nine-year marriage, and an engagement which unfortunately was ended by the death of her fiancé. Clearly, she shines with or without a man on her arm!

Throughout her life, Carmen has also seen her ups and downs in terms of financial and health problems as well. You wouldn’t know it by looking at her strutting down the runway, but she has had double knee replacement surgery, and suffers from arthritis in her hips. Not to mention, she lost nearly all of her savings in the stock market during the 90’s. Since she was still working, she decided to deposit the amount she had left with her long time friend, Bernie Madoff. Needless to say, her bank account and friendship with Bernie depleted after the infamous Madoff Scandal.

She came back from retirement in 1978, and has continued to work both in runway shows and fashion editorials. For a career like modeling which has been known to have a relatively short life-span, Carmen Dell’Orefice has certainly proved them all wrong. She celebrated her 83rd birthday this past June.

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