04 Nov 11
Using photographs from Carmen’s personal archive, the exhibition tells the story of a shy, skinny New Yorker who began her modelling career aged just 13, in 1945; who blossomed into a high fashion muse in the 1950s, retired and came back in the 80s busier, more celebrated (and more beautiful) than ever
Along the way she worked with the defining photographers of each successive generation, made her catwalk debut in her sixties, wrote a best selling beauty book and took cameo roles in movies by Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese
Curated for the Fashion Space Gallery by renowned fashion artist David Downton – a close friend of Carmen’s – the exhibition features images by Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Norman Parkinson, Horst P Horst and Lillian Bassman among others. Bringing the portfolio up to date is a stunning set of photographs by Ali Mahdavi, commissioned by London College of Fashion to celebrate Carmen’s 80th birthday earlier this year.
David Downton commented, “Carmen is a born image maker and an expert editor of herself, as you can see in this exhibition. In an industry built on hype, hyperbole and the lure of passing fad Carmen’s astonishing 66 year career is testament not only to her beauty, but to her wit, wisdom, professionalism and unshakeable resolve.” Carmen herself is sanguine about her achievements and her advice is simple: “Show up for the job. Be careful of the company you keep and have fun…If it’s not fun, it’s no fun!”
Professor Frances Corner Head of London College of Fashion commented: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with our dear friend and loyal supporter Carmen Dell’Orefice to bring the public this unique exhibition in our Fashion Space Gallery in the heart of the West End. It is a great honour to have access to such personal archives which David Downton has transformed into such a beautiful exhibition. We hope ‘Carmen: A life in Fashion’ will capture the public imagination and give a rare insight into the world of fashion through the lens of extraordinary photographers such as Avedon and Penn. It has also given us the amazing opportunity to work with Ali Mahdavi whose images of Carmen will be shown for the first time.”
This summer Carmen was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by University of the Arts London at London College of Fashion’s annual graduation ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the fashion industry.