Monday, March 23, 2009

Carmen Dell’Orefice

While at a small charity gathering I was covering for work, a PR person I was talking to leaned over and told a couple of photographers to be sure to snap some pictures of the woman coming down the stairs. 'Who is it?' I asked. 'It's the world's first supermodel,' she said reverently, 'Carmen Dell’Orefice.'

'Who?' I asked. The woman descending the stairs was striking. She was over six feet tall with a dense and perfect mane of white hair and black movie star sunglasses. "She's like 80 years old and her body is perfect,' the PR agent said. Her posture certainly was. Here was a woman utterly confident in her skin and unashamed of her height and age. And once she saw the cameras, she was even more relaxed.

'She was in Page Six today,' my PR friend continued. 'And she's still modeling -- she's doing an ad campaign for the Pierre Hotel.' Later, she leaned close and whispered that Ms. Dell’Orefice had lost everything to the despicable Bernie Madoff -- 'I don't mean to gossip,' she said, smiling sadly.

She's actually only 77, I learned when I got home. And she was in Page Six, the New York Post's gossip column, today. And that thing about her losing everything to Madoff? It's a feature story in Vanity Fair's April issue.

Pretty quickly, I realized that I had seen the glamorous Ms. Dell’Orefice -- in Target ads. She looks like a caricature of herself in those ads, so air brushed and white and smug. Nothing like the woman who smiled at me warmly as she reached for a glass of champagne.

She's an American, although she looks like she must be French or Italian. She's had an interesting life. She was 'discovered' on a Manhattan bus on 57th Street in the 40s. She posed for Salvador Dalí as a 12-year-old. She was a ballet dancer. Her first Vogue cover came at the age of 15. And they say she's been working steadily for 60 years.



Anonymous Sarah said...

I wonder if it would be possible to make it as a supermodel today with a last name that looks like orifice?

7:56 PM  

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