By Piper Weiss
Carmen Dell’Orefice was born before Fashion Week even existed. The 81-year-old, who walked the runway for both Marimekko and Norisol Ferrari at NYFW on Monday, is the oldest working supermodel in the industry and proud of it.
“It’s what I enjoy doing, and I’m able to do it,” she told the Today Show before stepping on to the runway in a mocha-colored floor-length gown.
Discovered at 13, while riding a New York City bus with her mom, she landed the cover of Vogue only three years later. That was back in 1947, when $7.50 an hour was the going rate for the gig.
“It meant nothing to me,” she recalls of seeing her first cover, “except that I thought I looked like a little boy.”
The octogenarian beauty has long shed any hint of tomboyish-ness. Her iconic white hair, which she’s left dye-free for decades, has set the highest bar for aging gracefully.
She’s had a little help, according to Today show correspondent and interviewer Jenna Bush Hager (yes that, Jenna). Dell’Orefice admits to using fillers for “cracks in the ceiling,” but it takes a lot more than an injection to be one of the most in-demand models after 66 years in the business. Her shoulders thrust back in triumph, projecting a couture-worthy regality uncommon on the runway these days.