Why supermodel Carmen Dell'Orefice is still walking the runway -- at 83

3 November 2014 / 1 year 11 months ago

By Jocelyn Lee
The New Paper
Sunday, Nov 02, 2014

She is 83 and had double knee replacement surgery last year, but legendary supermodel Carmen Dell'Orefice is still working it on the runway.

The world's oldest working model, Dell'Orefice is in town to open Digital Fashion Week Singapore 2014, which begins today and runs till Monday.

The American model, who landed her first Vogue cover at the age of 15, answered matter-of-factly when asked why she is still strutting her stuff on the runway.

"They keep asking me to do it. Period," she told The New Paper yesterday.

In the past decade alone, the prolific model had fronted campaigns for luxury brands such as Rolex, and also taken part in runway shows for big names like John Galliano and Hermes.

After almost 70 years of modelling experience, what keeps Dell'Orefice going in this competitive industry is meeting creative young people constantly.

"I see the world through their eyes, it is fun, it feels good," she explained. "I love shopping and with modelling, I can look at the clothes without having to shop. I have a chance of wearing fantasy clothes and not fall into the trap of buying them."


The style icon may appear cold and impersonal in person, but as the interview went on, she turned out to be affable and warm.

Indeed, she showed this reporter her neatly braided, bunned-up hairdo, and even complimented my outfit.

When asked about her take on plastic surgery, Dell'Orefice spoke openly about the procedures she had done to her face over the past decades to "maintain it, rather than alter it".

She said: "My biggest thing is the silicone injections I've done since I was 37. I was lucky to run into a good doctor early in my life and I haven't had to change the way I look."

Dell'Orefice added that she had bad sun damage on her skin, which gave her age spots when she was 37, and her doctor "saved her face by taking the first layer of skin off".

She recounted: "He said that I may never be in daylight without total sunblock ever again, so I put sunblock even at night now, in case I forget to put it on in the morning."


Born in New York City to an Italian immigrant father and a Hungarian mother, the 1.77m-tall stunner started modelling at a young age to support her family.

She was scouted by the wife of a photographer when she was only 13.

Talking about the proliferation of modelling reality shows on television these days, Dell'Orefice said without blinking an eye:

"That is a reality I am not connected to. It doesn't make models out of those girls.

"It is entertainment, it is all marketing. It is not a way for aspiring models to step into the industry."

So what tips does she have for girls wanting to make it big in the modelling world? "It is very basic and simple," Dell'Orefice said.

"Get enough sleep, drink a lot of water, don't smoke, don't do drugs and don't get pregnant." 

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