An Insight into the Life of Model and Actress Carmen Dell Orefice
Carmen was a bright child from a poor household, up for any odd jobs that would help her parents out financially. That she ended up being a fashion model was down to a spot of good fortune.
Her father was a keen jazz musician and agreed to let his then fourteen-year old daughter join one of his regular jamming soirees. She sat by her father's feet as he and his friends played, while others looked on. Among the audience at the informal gathering was a well-connected member of Manhattan's fashion crowd, who thought the gangly teenager with a mouthful of braces had a look that might prove photogenic.
A couple of weeks later, the callow Carmen found herself at the Vogue studios, 480 Lexington Avenue, New York, being photographed by Conde Nast's finest. Cecil Beaton, Irvine Penn and Serge Balkin all wielded their cameras before her, as did the ex-pat German, Horst. For her, this was a chance to dress up and play the adult: it was a game. For the photographers - particularly Horst- it was a chance discovery of a fresh young talent ideally suited to their fresh young industry.
The youngster was pliable, intelligent and responsive: an ingenue who instinctively understood that a model that can tell a story through posture and attitude was of far more use to the photographers shaping the aesthetic for America's nascent fashion business than one who was simply beautiful.
Carmen was a model before modelling became a structured profession with limos and agents. Conde Nast booked her for an assignment by sending a boy around to her parents' apartment with a note. She'd read it, tell her mother where she was going, put on her roller skates and head to the studio with her cocker .spaniel in tow.
Soon she had made enough money to support her mother, with whom she would spend evenings altering dresses for the other models to wear. She had no idea that she was part of a history being made, nor did she have any notion that she was glamorous - she was just a teenager having fun.
It's nearly seventy years later and she's still having fun, and has lost none of her natural modesty.
She talks of her career in a matter-of-fact way, never taking credit for her achievements, giving it instead to the photographers or her mother. She's not fancy or imperious or in any way arrogant. She is, I expect, in many respects very much like her fifteen-year old self: smart, uncomplicated and generous.
Lovely woman, memorable handshake...
People in Europe love you. Do you often come here?
Well I was engaged several times and my fiancees brought me to Europe regularly and now I want to thank Airfield, this wonderful company , for bringing me back here, where people are respectful to aged and modern women. Airfield clearly represents the highly modern woman. You know, I stand up for how I‘ve lived my life. I'm 84 and always decided how I wanted to live and what I wanted to wear - to find a connection to this wonderful brand. And I still do. I totally stand behind Airfield and what it has to offer to the modern thinking woman. Sensual clothes
that make you feel more beautiful. And the best thing is, they are very easy to combine.
What is your fashion secret?
I see many changes in the world, and there is one thing I can tell you: keep it good and simple! Haute Couture is very uncomfortable to wear. It takes a lot of time and women today are not just the concubine or the piece of eye candy on a mans arm, see? They are more thinking and more thoughtful about the occasion, where they live, where they work and they need excellent bits and pieces that travel well, sit well and which they can afford. I say to women, it is more taste than money. Don't copy anyone, have the courage to express your own personality – all this AIRFIELD represents to me and this is why women love this brand so much. Airfield always stays true to itself, but still appears to be very modern at the same time.
What do you expect from a good fashion collection?
Airfield has wonderful pieces that fit into my wardrobe and my lifestyle. You know, it's because I'm going up and down and sometimes I am going to the palace to see the queen and at other times I'm at home going to my supermarket and everytime Airfield would have the right pieces to collect for a particular occassion. (Carmen laughs) I don't wear the same things for the same event, but I can go to Europe with a soft case – I always use a soft case. I don't role it, If I can't carry it, I don't bring it. So all of my pieces have to be able to be folded neatly, be light enough to wear? wait for the right cut so they will be easy to combine and suit any occassion. Airfield provides all these things to me.