21 March 2010

Carmen Dell'Orefice, b. 1931, America

1 comment:

  1. Carmen's parents were Italian and Hungarian. They were constantly breaking up and getting back together. Because of this, Carmen lived in foster homes and sometimes with other relatives.

    In 1942, Carmen reunited with her mother and moved to New York City. At the age of 13, while riding a bus to ballet class, she was approached to model by the wife of photographer Herman Landschoff. Her test photos, taken at Jones Beach, were a "flop" according to Carmen.

    Despite modeling, Carmen and her mother were poor. They had no telephone and Vogue sent runners to their apartment to let Carmen know about modeling jobs. She roller-skated to assignments to save bus fare. Carmen was so malnourished that famed fashion photographers Horst P. Horst and Cecil Beaton had to pin back dresses and stuff her body with tissue. Carmen and her mother were also accomplished seamtresses and made extra money making clothes. One of their customers was Dorian Leigh. Carmen would later become best friends with Dorian's younger sister, model Suzy Parker. Together they would be bridesmaids at Dorian's second wedding to Roger Mehle in 1948.

    Despite early successes at a very young age, modeling agent Eileen Ford refused to represent her and Vogue lost interest in her. After doctors prescribed shots to start puberty, she instead started working for catalogs and lingerie, making $300 per hour. It was then that she joined Ford in 1953.

    Carmen met and married Bill Miles in the early 1950s. Bill would pick up her weekly modeling checks at her agency and only give her $50 of it. They had a daughter, Laura, and divorced soon after.

    In 1958 she met photographer Richard Heimann and married him only six months later. She decided to retire and he promptly left her.

    Her third marriage was to a young architect Richard Kaplan in the mid-1960s. Their marriage lasted nine years. Desperate, she decided to return to modeling in 1978 and continues to work to this day. In the 1990s and 2000s, she modeled for Isaac Mizrahi's clothing line at Target, as well as Cho Cheng and Rolex. Carmen is featured regularly in their advertising campaigns appearing in Vogue, W and Harper's Bazaar.

    In the late 1980s, Carmen was engaged to television talk-show host David Susskind. He died before they were married.

    In 1993, a neighbor introduced her to Norman F. Levy, who was Bernard Madoff's best friend. He was her boyfriend for several years.

    In the 1980s and 1990s, Carmen lost most of her money in the stock market. She was forced to auction off her famous modeling photographs from the 1940s-1980s through Sotheby's.