Carmen dell’Orefice: Photographs of a Fashion Icon


Carmen dell’Orefice was discovered at the tender age of 13, on a bus in New York in 1944. Just three years later, she appeared on the cover of Vogue, photographed by Erwin Blumenfeld—and save for a few false retirements from fashion, she has hardly stopped working since. Along the way, dell’Orefice posed for seemingly every photographer of note in the modern era of fashion photography. Tonight and tomorrow, Phillips is auctioning off works from her personal collection, including pictures of her taken by the likes of Beaton, Avedon, and Penn. Here are just a few of dell’Orifice’s favorites, along with her liner notes.

“Carmen: Photographs of a Fashion Icon” takes place tonight and tomorrow at Phillips auction house, 450 Park Avenue in New York.


JERRY SCHATZBERG, Carmen Dell’Orefice, NYC, 1958

“I remember Jerry was the new boy on the block when I first worked with him in 1958 for Vogue and McCall’s, right when he began to define a new fashion image in America. His mind and work environment are so well organized, which has always made my job a pleasure during every shoot we accomplished over the years, whether in his studio, or on location.”

Image courtesy of Phillips


EMERICK BRONSON, Untitled, March 11, 1949

“I love this photograph. Lillian Marcuson is standing and Dovima is on the right. I remember it was Dovima’s first job, she was very shy. Little did I know when this was taken that we would become lifelong friends. We became sisters, and I still miss her. I miss Dosie, as I called her.”

Image courtesy of Phillips


RICHARD HEIMANN, Untitled and Untitled, 1960

“We were already married when he photographed me here. He was very nervous at the time because I was so well-known and he was not well-known yet, but we worked our way through that. Working together opened up other doors for him. He went on to become the cinematographer for the movie Godspell. He is one of the unsung great fashion photographers.”

Image courtesy of Phillips


ERWIN BLUMENFELD, Untitled, n.d.

“Erwin did this before he shot me for the Vogue cover. I was standing on two telephone books to make myself seem taller. Erwin was wonderful. He reassured me that I was a person. He made me feel less like a stranger. It was he who introduced me to Eileen Ford. At the time she was working only with All-American girls, which I wasn’t. But she took me in because of Erwin.”

Image courtesy of Phillips


CECIL BEATON, Untitled, n.d.

“This was done the second week I worked for Vogue. Scully Montgomery was the fashion editor at the time. Was I scared to be working with her and Cecil and Alexander Lieberman? No. You had all these clothes and accessories. It was an adventure.”

Image courtesy of Phillips


GLEB DERUJINSKY, Selected Images, 1958

“After doing the photo shoot all over Paris, Gleb sent the rolls to a local lab, where they accidentally exposed the film to light and burnt it. I remember after returning to myhotel room at 4am, Gleb called me at 6am and said I needed to be back at the set and redo the shoot. I was so tired, but of course I did it. Working with him was fun.”

Image courtesy of Phillips


VICTOR SKREBNESKI, Selected Images, early 1960s

“He would always find something to use me in. He is passionate about photographs. I love working with him because once he’d see the clothes on me, it would change the way he saw the clothes. That’s the fun of it.”

Image courtesy of Phillips