Carmen Dell’Orefice – The 82 Year-Old Model

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The story from Daily Mail:

‘Being on the cover of Vogue at 15 meant nothing to me,’ confesses Carmen Dell’Orefice. She doesn’t mean to sound ungrateful; it was more that she was baffled by it all.

‘I never really understood what it was they were looking at, what they saw in me,’ she shrugs. Whatever it was, she’s still very much in possession of it; Carmen has been modelling – albeit with a few brief attempts at retirement – for almost 70 years now.

At 13, she was spotted by the wife of a photographer, getting off a bus in her native New York City; the following year, she sat for Salvador Dalí – who gave her a painting in addition to the $7 she officially earned for modelling for him – before going on to work with the most celebrated photographers of the 20th century, including Cecil Beaton, Norman Parkinson and Richard Avedon.

And at an age when many of her contemporaries are long forgotten or sadly deceased, she is still fronting campaigns for luxury brands such as Rolex and walking the runway for Gaultier, Galliano and Mugler.

On how she stayed thin all her life:

Dieting, or watching your figure, is not that complicated. You just have to have self-discipline, and understand what you have been given genetically. I always wanted to be smaller than I am; I’m a typical woman in that sense.

On her model image:

As a model, I didn’t have an identity; I was a chameleon, a silent actress. I was an amorphous thing. I wasn’t full of personality, I was full of solitude and solemnity. I wasn’t a cover-girl type. I’ve had more covers in the past 15 years than I had in all the years before that.

… says 82 year-old Carmen.

The model first Vogue cover from 1947:

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Many, many more pictures of her next!


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  • federica

    What a classy woman.

    • cloud9

      couldn’t agree more, she oozes class and sophistication. wow, what a stunner!

      • She is stunning and so classy but also she seems to have a wonderful fun, bubbly energy to her!

  • Courtney

    She’s more attractive now then when she was younger!

    • Weirdly, that’s exactly what I thought! 🙂

    • Bo

      I was thinking the same thing! She’s very striking now!

    • Carla

      I think she’s beautiful. Also I read in another interview with her she readily admits to having had a fair amount of plastic surgery and will probably have more in the future. More power to her I say, it’s looking great whatever she’s having done!

  • Magda

    @ Versus: funny coincidence !
    I heard about the 62 year old model Cindy Joseph and the banned Nivea ad and wondered if you could do a post about it. We never feature “old” model.
    Thanks in advance.

    Fashion is for everyone so anyone could be in it. Nice pics.

  • Jui

    Proof that a positive attitude is so important. It is her attitude towards herself, her body, her health, her appearance and life in general – that has given her longevity in that industry.

    Also agree with her quote and diet/being thin as she calls it. Self-discipline is the key. And understanding what you have been born with, and making the best of it, just makes sense. No sense trying to make your body something it isn’t.

  • Liv

    When all those women on those reality TV shoes scream that they are “classy” I am always perplexed what they mean by that… But if there was an example of “class” it would be Carmen… she is one beautiful, humble, classy lady…

    • Liv

      Shows… not shoes.. .haha

  • Fay

    She is so classy. I love people who don’t give up.

  • ary

    does anyone know which Dali’s painting are they talking about? i’m curious now.

  • V

    What a fascinating individual and post. Thank you for this, Versus!

  • SA girl

    I am in agreement with what most women posted thus far, a timeless classic beauty.

  • snugglepup

    She’s such an inspiration – real elegant lady, totally different from today’s Jersey Shore-girls. She still looks absolutely stunning, if she’s had work done it has been done tastefully. Delicate sexyness and beauty. Muah! If she was to become a model now she would def be the “it” girl.

  • Winnie

    she reminds me of Glenn Close as Cruella DeVille in the first picture. she’s very much a product of the era she modelled in. she has that aristocratic grace and elegant presence that fashion models like Lisa Fonssagrives and Dorian Leigh had

  • Anna

    As everyone has mentioned she has class elegance and charisma. It surprises us all because we are used to classless yet rich stars like Miley Cyrus.

    • snugglepup

      That’s sadly the truth :s

    • anonymous

      Why are people comparing her to Miley Cyrus and Jersey Shore? Carmen is a model, she is not a pop star or a reality TV star.

  • CK

    i see the same as most posters here- a woman that oozes class&elegance also there is some,i don’t know, piece or calmness in her eyes,like looking at some of those serene pictures of sunset&sundown over an ocean or river or waterfall, etc…Also to me fashion, esp HF seems kinda limited not only in body type&size they design for but also age, but here its clear that they can design smth that would look beautiful&modern even on women in 80s (not all outfits here but some),i mean society is somewhat cruel towards seniors in the sense of sort of excluding that layer of people from full life, like “they’ve got their pension,some boring social activities with peers and let ’em be happy”, though am sure many of them are happy with that but i know lots of them would still love the opportunity to work, study, socialize, date, etc cos technically they do have the freedom for that but in reality some of these things for many are not accessible (though no one says it out loud) cos they’re labeled “old”, its like society has pretty much “discarded” of them in a way but its not the end of life for a lot of them, many of seniors are much healthier, active&motivated than young folks and could&would love to contribute greatly to the society.
    As much as i like to see a model of this age am afraid its not a positive change or smth, its just like with plus size thing – its THE thing/issue of the moment and neither fashion nor photography had seemed to manage to shock or impress people much in the past years cos we’ve seen so much already so its hard to truly impress people, so fashion magz are just grasping at anything that’d help to sell more copies.Its like that photoshoot we had a post about few days ago featuring models&actresses of diff. race, age, etc..i mean “diversity” is THE thing now, but they don’t truly care bout what it is or promoting that in any way…just a trend.
    My favorite pics&outfits here are 5&10.

    • heather

      I agree with what you said. I used to work with a woman that was in her late 80s when I was 16. We worked at a gift shop together and while she could only handle coming in for 2-3 hours, she would always tell me how much she loved being at work. She was widowed and never had any children. She started working for my boss when she was 70! She was such an inspiration to me and still is, I loved working with her and hearing her stories of growing up and she loved getting out of the house and socializing 🙂 Customers would always ask if she was working, everyone knew her and loved her. She had to stop working right before she turned 91 because she has vertigo. But it was a wonderful opportunity I had to work with her.

  • Lisa

    She and China Machado are really beautiful women.

    • Indigo Lace

      I agree .

  • wonderwoman21

    Wow she looks great

  • Jenny

    Gorgeous. But a lot of plastic surgery though 🙁

    • sofie kittie

      At least it’s done well

  • Faith

    She is so beautiful there is something that just makes her stand out I vaguely remeber seeing a photograph of her when she was a little bit older than her first vogue shoot and she was so stunning and still is.

  • truwordz

    aw she would be a cool grandma

  • Cari

    She is stunning. She just oozes self confidence and carries herself so elegantly….not something you see much anymore!!

  • Carla

    I’m never ever ever giving up, I want to be just like her if I’m lucky enough to make it to 82! She obviously takes good care of her health, as well as her personal grooming she has a great sense of style and pride. Plus a tiny bit of work done in moderation never hurt anyone 😉

  • Alias

    Such a classy lady. She’s aged well, and still has great style! I also like her look when she was younger, something that just draws me in.

  • HB


  • Soph

    I think its great she’s still modelling. So much emphasis on being young in the western world, but elderly ladys need to buy nice clothes too and its nice that there are attractive models to model those clothes

  • lc

    Wow, her younger pic is gorgeous.

    • Mara


  • Lola

    I prefer how women from her generation dressed, used accessories, and did their hair and make-up. Nowadays few women can pull off the perfect look without overdoing or under-doing. These women were able to coordinate successfully the jewels, the gloves,the pearls,a simple a simple dress and the lipstick.
    She’s a role model for me to not be afraid of ageing and take it with grace and humility.

  • Tea

    I would love to be as poised and elegant as she is when I’m 82. Most people are lucky just to be alive at 82. She has such a strong presence in photos and must have been an amazing editorial model.

  • snoops

    I must be seeing something different than everyone else coz all I see is a slightly pulled/unnatural face that still looks 82 and has loads of cruella-de-ville esque makeup on.

  • Nene

    You know it’s such a hard thing to say albeit a bitter truth,there are a few women like her now.And even less among the stars of today.
    It’s really difficult to find a celebrity who oozes class,confidence,elegance,grace and carisma without compromising their sexiness as a woman.But this woman has it all even at 82! The only celeb who has these attributes to me is Cate Blanchet.And to be honest am partial to the brunette look but Carmen is one of my all time fave blondes,including Cate,Veronica Lake,Grace Kelly,Hilary Duff,Scarlett,Heather graham.These women give new meaning to the blonde look other than the annoying ‘dumb blonde’ which many other celebs turn out looking like.

  • Elle

    She reminds me very much of the old lady in Aristocats… That’s bad, sorry 😀
    Even sillier, bear with me: I find her name too similar to ‘orifice’, and it’s very distracting… Haha
    Apart from that, she is a beautiful and wonderfully classy woman. It’s very pleasing and refreshing to see such elegance on this website.

  • solaxia

    I think she was very beautiful and demure in her younger years. She is still beautiful and demure now, but with more confidence and sensuality. There is a special light to her eyes. I never really understood what people meant when they talked about a light in others eyes…but I see it with her. Like she knows something special. Had to explain, but it makes her very unique and attractive imo.

  • seijidan

    I have a feeling this is how or who Angelina aspires to be

  • Lulu G

    I’ve seen her in person a number of times and she is even more stunning than in photographs. Pure elegance!

  • Alexis Christine

    Love her on the catwalk. I hope I can look half as good at 82. Absolutely stunning.

  • JN1976

    Now this is what I call a ROLE MODEL…beauty, class, style, grace, sense and self-respect with a humble attitude.
    More Please!

    • Alexis Christine

      Yes I agree, more models like this today please!!!

  • karla

    Beautiful classy elegant exquisite a real model

  • anonymous

    Even more proof that models have always been thin since the start of fashion. And not something that just happened in the last decade according to a lot of people on this site.

    • Candy M.

      anonymous- people even try to argue cold hard facts here. Facts that can’t even be argued- models were clearly thin and tall- yet some try to say they are completely different. Or they don’t know anything about history, espicallly before this century.

    • serena

      Actually there is a lot of variation in what you might consider ‘thin’. My bmi is 19, athletic build, and the bigger models are around this size, like Adriana L. if she’s really 130 lbs. However I would look fat next to models like Vlada who are clearly very underweight. A little underweight can be healthy, there is natural variation in human size after all, but many models today are in the range of 14-16 bmi – women have been known to die of malnourishment at this size, like poor Isabelle Cara – their body fat% is too low and lacking in nutrients. Erin Heatherton has gained and she looks big next to other models, though I’m sure she’s healthy weight for 5’11”. Carmen clearly takes care of herself and is not extremely thin though. She looks healthy.

    • Candy M.

      Watched about face, believe she said she was 109, somewhere around that when she began modeling. Variations exist in “thin”- adriana lima looks as good as thinner girls for sure. And the average runway model is 5’10 120- bmi of 17.2. Most of them actually aren’t 105- like vlada. You can clearly see she’s thinner than most of the other models.

    • Candy M.

      Carol Alt- a primarily commercial SI model
      ALT: I weighed 165 and I was 5 foot eight and a half. So yes, they wanted me to lose weight. I lost at one point probably around 50 pounds. For the cover of Sports Illustrated I was 115 pounds but I was also at that point 5’10”

      • Jui’

        Omg I read about her. She said she starved herself to lose the 50 lbs. She rebelled by eating sandwiches made of M and M’s with potato chips like inside the sandwich as the meat!!!

  • amber

    My friend’s grandmother just turned 80. She worked as a school teacher for 50 years, just “retired” so she can focus on tutoring children who might have to repeat a grade due to illness or other circumstances. She has fostered at least 5 teenagers. Adopted two. Has never had plastic surgery and doesn’t have time to worry about her figure. She learned to snowboard in her 60s, but only skis now because its easier on her knees. She was attacked a few years ago leaving the homeless shelter, but she still volunteers and brings them homemade pies, made with fruit from her garden. She used to bring them fresh honey, too, but her bee hive died ands the replacement bees all left. She married at 19 and her husband had to retire a few years ago due to cancer. Its terminal, but slow, so she cares for him. To bring in extra money, and for ‘fun,’ she and one of her grandsons fix up old snow mobiles, boats, and airplanes and resell them. She is the classiest, most spirited, most interesting woman I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

    I don’t know what Carmen Dell’Orfice is, but classy isn’t a word I’d use.

    • serena

      Who is to say Carmen doesn’t volunteer or do charity? Just because she is a model rather than school teacher doesn’t mean her behavior can’t be classy.

      • amber

        You’re correct. I can only base my opinion of her on interviews and brief biographies I’ve read. She may do charity work, she may not. But in her own words she is vain, preoccupied with her image, vengeful, and conceited. Perhaps she doesn’t interview well and is always taken out of context.

  • kat