86 Years Young and A World Class Model
On the 3rd June 2017, Carmen Dell’Orefice turned 86 years young. She is the oldest model in the world modelling for over 70 years, placing herself in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Carmen has been four times a cover girl by Vogue magazine. She was on the cover at the age of 15 and has been modelling ever since. What is interesting is she has had more covers in the past 15 years than she had in all the years before that.
What I love about this incredible woman is her attitude. Her daily motto is to enjoy herself, at no-one else's expense. I hope to look and feel half as lovely at her age. She is grace defined. I first came across Carmen on Pinterest earlier this year and have been infatuated with her ever since. She is a survivor in an industry that is youth-orientated. An elegant and a lady, who continues to work even though she has had arthritis for many years. I have been so inspired Carmen, that I felt the need to write about her. Not only is she incredible now, but she also has a true rag to riches story.
When I put her photo up on Instagram, someone wrote that she has had work done. Yes, that is true. Carmen openly admits to having enhanced her God-given bone structure with regular silicone injections for decades and undergone a fearsome-sounding ‘medical dermabrasion’ almost 50 years ago to banish wrinkles and sun damage, but that is all she is willing to discuss until she writes her memoirs. She refuses to be frail; in spite of a painful double-knee-replacement operations just before her 82nd birthday, she still wears high heels.
Reading about Carmen made me think about my life, especially when my 50th birthday came up so quickly. When setting a goal, I always have the end in mind and work backwards. Carmen is still incredibly striking at 86 and leads a lifestyle many of us desire, so it made me ask the question "What will I want at the age of 86?" The first item on my list was to maintain my health of course, but what I desire is to keep an attitude of fun and laughter, which is what I noticed about Carmen.
Carmen has endured many speed humps in life and has been a huge success despite her rocky start to life in 1931.
Born in New York City to parents of Italian and Hungarian descent, Carmen often lived in foster homes or with relatives who took her in during her father and mother's many break ups. When her parents separated, Carmen and her mother struggled financially, and Carmen started a modelling career at the age of 13 to help support her parents. The wife of photographer Herman Landschoff approached her while riding a bus to ballet class and her godfather introduced her to Vogue, and the rest is history.
Carmen states her first death was ballet when she had to give up her dreams of becoming a ballet dancer after spending a year in bed with rheumatic fever at 13.
But her modelling income was not enough to sustain the family. With no telephone, Vogue had to send runners to their apartment to let her know about modelling jobs. She roller-skated to assignments to save on bus fares. She was so malnourished that famed fashion photographers Horst P. Horst and Cecil Beaton had to pin back dresses and stuff the curves with tissue.
The book by journalist Michael Gross, "Model: The Ugly Business Of Beautiful Women," tells the tale of beautiful women empowered and subjugated; of vast sums of money; of sex and drugs, obsession and tragic death; and of the most unholy combination in commerce: stunning young women and rich, lascivious men, especially back when Carmen commenced modelling.
According to the Daily Mail, Carmen has been married three times to men she loved. She has one child, who is now 60 years young to Bill Miles, her first husband who she left after he had many affairs. They married after five years of dating and three illegal abortions. Miles exploited his wife financially, by picking up his wife's modeling agency checks, allowing her only $50 allowance from her earnings. Her second marriage broke up when her husband admitted to not wanting to raise another mans child, and her third in 1963 fizzled out after 11 years.
'I moisturise my skin with anything that comes to hand, but nothing on the outside is going to make a blind bit of difference unless you take care of the inside.'
“I drink water with lemon juice in the morning and eat plenty of probiotic yogurt.”
Carmen Dell'Orefice shocked the fashion world when, in the Sixties, she stopped dying her hair, allowing it to fade to its natural white. Now, the supermodel has revealed that it was her then husband, Richard Kaplan, who inspired her to do so, after angering her by pulling out a white hair as they lay in bed together. She was so enraged by Kaplan's insensitive action, that she decided to embrace that single white hair, and all the others that would come, by doing away with hair colour altogether.
Carmen first retired from modelling in 1959 and three more times after that, but she is a hard worker and couldn’t stay away from the industry. Carmen continues to pose for big-name brands like Rolex and walk in many runway shows, including New York Fashion week and Geo Pei's runway show in 2017 at 86 years young.
Where do you see yourself at the age of 86? How will you feel, think and act? I would love to hear from you.
See more images of Carmen at our Pinterest page here.
Thank you for reading and we hope this article inspired you to set your future goals. Please share to other inspirational women so we can grow along side of you. We are women empowering women and can only keep empowering you if you can help us.