Last Sunday, I joined a slew of shutterbugs that photographed CARMEN DELL'OREFICE outside Van Cleef & Arpels on Fifth Avenue. At 76, the American model and catwalk veteran is beautiful, flawless and elegant. CARMEN DELL'OREFICE (born June 3, 1931) has been called the first supermodel; though, in fact, she has simply worked steadily since her teens, when she was first photographed for Vogue, to the present day. She is unusual in that she has had a continuous career in a field in which few people work past the age of 30. As of 2008, she has been modeling for 60 years. She was discovered on a bus heading back from a dance class by a woman who was married to a photographer at Harper's Bazaar in 1941. Her first pictures taken by Erwin Blumfeld in 1945 (when she was just 14) led to a contract with American Vogue, where she went on to appear on 6 front covers. She first appeared on the cover of Vogue at age 15.
Dell'Orefice's striking, high-cheekboned and elegant features have been captured by many top photographers, including Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton and Horst P. Horst; she is said to have acted as a muse to artists Salvadore Dali and Donald Cammell. Carmen adapted and wrote a best selling book in 1985 and appeared on cameo roles in films such as Woody Allen's "The curse of the Jade Scorpion" and Martin Scorsese's "The Age of Innocence."