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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Carmen: A Life in Fashion at the Fashion Space Gallery

A stunning new exhibition at London College of Fashion's Fashion Space Gallery celebrates the illustrious 60-year modelling career of the one and only Carmen Dell'Orefice…

Written by Matt Bramford


Carmen Dell’Orefice by Joanna Gniady

I can’t bear having my photograph taken. That’s why I’m not a model. That’s the only reason. But imagine having your photograph taken consecutively for sixty years, by some of the greatest photographer that ever lived. It’s quite the achievement when you really think about it.

I’m taking about Carmen Dell’Orrefice, affectionately referred to as ‘the world’s most enduring supermodel’. A new exhibition at the London College of Fashion‘s Fashion Space Gallery proves why Carmen deserves that accolade.


All photography by Matt Bramford

It’s rare to find exhibitions that celebrate the career of a model rather than the photographers that document them. In recent years, grand masters like Avedon and Penn have been honoured with mammoth exhibitions, so this collaboration between LCF and David Downton is a welcome break, and it’s been put together with feeling (Dowton is a close personal friend of Dell’Orefice) and no stage of her career is left unrepresented.


Carmen Dell’Orefice by Celine Elliott

Carmen Dell’Orefice was born on Welfare Island in 1931 to an Italian father and Hungarian mother. Her first modelling duty was at the age of 13 – Carmen is now 80 and still modelling. As she moved around the room, talking to Colin McDowell, Frances Corner OBE (head of the LCF) I simply couldn’t take my eyes off her. She’s one of those lucky buggers that have matured with grace and elegance and maintained her unique looks without going anywhere near Wildenstein.

Looking around the room at the works is like an encyclopaedia of the great fashion photographers – Penn, Beaton, Coffin, Avedon, Derujinsky, her second husband Richard Heimann, Parkinson; it’s wonderfully exhausting. Reporductions of Vogue and Harper’s covers are mounted on some walls, while others hold photographs ranging from her frolicking in the Bahamas (shot by Parkinson) and basking in Hawaii (shot by Derujinsky).

The crescendo is a stunning selection of portraits commissioned especially by LCF and photographed by Ali Mahdavi. I’ve purposefully omitted any images of these photographs in the hope that you’ll go along and view the exhibition yourself. They are fresh and classical at the same time – there’s something intimately special about them. Please go.

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