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STUNNING PICS: World's oldest supermodel at 81

Last updated on: January 26, 2013 22:03 IST

STUNNING PICS: World's oldest supermodel at 81

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As the oldest working fashion model set the ramp on fire at the Paris Fashion Week, we bring you images of the stunning lady -- Carmen Dell'Orefice (81) -- in her various avatars.

Carmen Dell'Orefice is a well-known model on fashion ramps in the West. She isn't however your dainty young things. Carmen is 81 and put up her most recent appearance for French designer Stephane Rolland as part of his Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2013 fashion show in Paris on January 22, 2013.

At 81, she is the oldest working fashion model.

To put things into perspective, she was born almost a decade before the First World War began, started modelling a year before India won independence, appeared on the cover of Vogue in the year that it did and was the model of the iconic photograph Carmen Las Meninas shot by Melvin Sokolsky the year Gujarat and Maharashtra were born.

In the pages to follow, we bring you some stunning images of this extraordinary person.


Image: Carmen Dell'Orefice, 81, presents a creation by French designer Stephane Rolland as part of his Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2013 fashion show in Paris January 22, 2013.
Photographs: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

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Born to parents who were always breaking up and getting back together, Carmen spent most of her childhood in foster homes and living with her relatives. She was 12 when she was reunited with her mother and they moved to New York City.

When she was 13 and was travelling to her ballet class by bus, she was approached to model by the wife of Herman Landshoff, the photographer who is best known for his images of Dr Albert Einstein.


Image: Model Carmen Dell'Orefice, 81, presents a creation from the Norisol Ferrari Spring/Summer 2013 collection during New York Fashion Week, September 10, 2012.
Photographs: Andrew Burton /Reuters

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In 1946 when she was 15, her godfather introduced Carmen to Vogue where she signed a contract for $7.50 per hour.

Soon, Carmen would become photographer Erwin Blumenfeld's favourite model who would shoot her first Vogue cover in 1947 making her one of Vogue's youngest cover models besides Niki Taylor, Brooke Shields, and Monika Schnarre.


Image: Model Carmen Dell'Orefice (C) is helped off the runway backstage after participating in the runway show for fashion designer Norisol Ferrari's Spring/Summer 2013 collection during New York Fashion Week September 10, 2012. The collection is Ferrari's first runway show.
Photographs: Keith Bedford/Reuters

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In spite of her modelling, Carmen and her mother barely made ends meet in their early days. They had no telephone and Vogue would send runners to inform Carmen of assignments. To save bus fares, Carmen roller-skated to her assignments.


Image: Fashion designer Norisol Ferrari (C) talks with model Carmen Dell'Orefice (L) prior to the presentation of her Spring/Summer 2013 collection during New York Fashion Week September 10, 2012. The collection is Ferrari's first runway show.
Photographs: Keith Bedford/Reuters
Tags: Carmen , Vogue

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Carmen was said to be so malnourished that photographers would pin back her dresses and stuff them with tissue to fill them up.

It helped that both she and her mother were accomplished seamstresses and would make extra money making clothes.


Image: Model Carmen Dell'Orefice presents a creation from the Marimekko Spring/Summer 2013 collection during New York Fashion Week September 10, 2012.
Photographs: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
Tags: Carmen

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Over the years, Carmen would work with some of the most well-known fashion photographers of her time including Gleb Derujinsky, Francesco Scavullo, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, and Norman Parkinson.

She would also go on to become Salvador Dali's muse.


Image: Designer Noora Niinikoski (R) laughs with model Carmen Dell'Orefice who presents a creation from the Marimekko Spring/Summer 2013 collection during New York Fashion Week September 10, 2012.
Photographs: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

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Standing tall at 5ft 10in, Carmen flaunts stunning stats 36-26-39 and has admitted that she has facial fillers to help delay the aging process.


Image: Model Carmen Dell'Orefice poses before the Chado Ralph Rucci Spring/Summer 2013 collection show during New York Fashion Week September 9, 2012.
Photographs: Andrew Burton /Reuters
Tags: Carmen

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Carmen has been married multiple times and has lost her fortune twice in the stock market. In June 2011 she celebrated her 80th birthday. The following month she received an honorary doctorate from the University of the Arts London, in recognition of her contribution to the fashion industry.

The university also presented a retrospective that featured her Vogue covers as well as photographs from her personal archives that were curated by the illustrator and her friend David Downton.

At 81, Carmen continues to light up the ramp.


Image: Carmen Dell'Orefice, who was born in 1931 and claims to be the world's oldest supermodel, laughs backstage before the 2007 Jackie Rogers fall collection during New York Fashion Week February 3, 2007.
Photographs: Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters

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