Whoever said models had to be young obviously never heard of Carmen Dell’Orefice.
At 86, Dell’Orefice has had an impressive modelling career that has spanned seven decades. In 1946, at just 15, having just been signed, the New York City born Carmen Dell’Orefice landed her first cover of Vogue. With her statuesque frame and her one of a kind features she quickly became a favorite of top photographers of the time like Richard Avedon and Francesco Scavullo.
After all of her success, she was dropped by her agent, possibly due to her small frame which required medical attention. Upon receiving her estrogen shots, Dell’Orefice’s new curves allowed her to make a resurgence modelling lingerie for $300 an hour. Carmen modeled through the 50’s, however, after her second marriage to Richard Heimann in 1958, she decided to retire altogether from modelling.
In 1978, a three time divorced Dell’Orefice found herself in need of money which restarted her modelling career. For the next two decades, she modeled for various campaigns and magazines. In the 80’s and 90’s, Carmen experienced more financial loss after losing most of her money in the stock market. The rest of her money was lost in a scheme involving Bernie Madoff who was best friends with her boyfriend of 12 years Norman F. Levy. Upon Levy’s death in 2006, Dell’Orefice discovered that Madoff had scammed away almost all of Levy’s $244 million fortune.
Despite all of her obstacles, Carmen Dell’Orefice always manages to carry herself with elegance and grace. She still models here and there though as of late most of her citings are out and about at parties. Her style is never any less than perfection still able to wear top designers and the finest jewelry. Carmen Dell’Orefice’s life can be a true testament that no matter how big the obstacle, it’s never too late to dust yourself off and reinvent yourself.
Written by: Dominique Bedell