Young Carmen Dell’Orefice captured by Cecil Beaton

Young Carmen Dell’Orefice captured by Cecil Beaton

Young Carmen Dell’Orefice photographed by Cecil Beaton

At the first glance, it’s almost like a painting or a society portrait. In the world of Cecil Beaton, models in feminine dresses were often captured in theatrical and, on some occasions, avant–garde settings. Highly sophisticated, elegant with a hint of fragility. But such adjectives are not quite enough to describe the innovative work of Cecil Beaton.

Young Carmen Dell’Orefice

‘‘Cecil Beaton photographed the creative luminaries of the twentieth century—women and men of style, writers and musicians, artist and actors—his iconic portraits captured his subjects’ unique personalities and gave them an immortal burnish’’ according to Megan O’Grady in Vogue.

Sir Cecil Beaton, born in 1904 in London, was without any doubt, the most remarkable photographer and Academy Award winning stage custom designer. But he is best known for his fashion photography for ‘Vogue’ and ‘Vanity fair’. Among all the anecdotes, his fascination with photography started as early as 3 years old, when he used to look at pictures of society women and celebrities in magazines as a young boy. As he turned to 11, he first received his camera and practiced his skills photographing his two sisters.

After failing to take over his father’s timber business, he left for New York in 1928 to pursue his passion, first specialised in fashion photography and later as the royal family’s appointed photograper. It was during the first decades of his career in New York when he met the editors of ‘Vogue’ and ‘Vanity fair’ as well as 15 year-old Carmen Dell’Orefice.

David Bailey, who later made the documentary ‘Beaton by Bailey’, once said that ‘‘ […] he (Beaton) had this ability to make people look right in their space.’’ And Carmen Dell’Orefice was unmistakably one of those whose innate beauty and versatility were skilfully brought out and captured by Cecil Beaton.

Born to a Hungarian dancer and an Italian violinist in New York, Carmen Dell’Orefice became the youngest cover model ever for Vogue at the age of 15. Her feminine figure and introverted charm were soon discovered and favoured by Cecil Beaton who laid the foundation for her career to blossom in the competitive world of modelling over the next years.

He was among the first few post-war (also called the golden age of) great photographers who saw growing potentials in her quiet smile and beautiful hazel eyes. Also it was him who introduced ‘Little Carmen’ to famous artists of the 20thcentury such as Salvador Dali and Irving Penn (whom she had a secret crush on).



Carmen Dell’Orefice captured by Cecil Beaton

Although she started modelling as a way to support her family, the young talent shortly flourished thanks to Beaton’s professional work. When we first saw Carmen in feminine dress photographed by Beaton, it was somehow reminiscent of an aristocrat portrait by some old masters you can find at the National Portrait Gallery.

Carmen Dell’Orefice


But many of his work also take us by surprise with his peculiar angles that go beyond conformity underneath the sophisticated and delicate touch. We think his work has not only shed light on her femininity, but has also portrayed her preserved beauty, her young and positive attitude.

Carmen Dell’Orefice by Cecil Beaton



Carmen Dell’Orefice captured by Cecil Beaton




Carmen Dell’Orefice captured by Cecil Beaton_mini (1)

Today, she is also celebrated as the world’s oldest (and the most fabulous) working supermodel at the age of 83, still covering magazines (yes, it is even in the World Guinness Records!).


Carmen Dell'Orefice





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