It is not every day that you can see an 85-year-old woman walking down the most important runways in the planet. Note down the name: Carmen dell’Oreffice (New York, 1931), she is the longest-working model in the world. She started by appearing on Vogue’s cover at the age of 15 and has not stopped ever since. Age makes it possible for her to say that she has been in front of the greatest lenses in history: Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon or Salvador Dalí. The daughter of an Italian musician and a Hungarian dancer, Carmen worked for 60 years under Ford Models and in 2015, starred in a campaign along with David Gandy and Isabeli Fontana. At 85, she isn’t even thinking of stopping working.
The Venezuelan designer Carolina Herrera (Caracas, 1939) attended her first Balenciaga fashion show at the age of 13, partied nights away in the company of Andy Warhol in her youth and presented her first collection at 42 following Diana Vreeland’s advice. Her clothes garnered such success that she and her family moved to New York to start the brand Carolina Herrera. Herrera is well-known for her dresses and her suits, that make working women’s lives much more stylish. Caroline Kennedy wore one of her creations on her wedding day in 1986, giving Carolina international fame. At 78, she is still auspiciously directing her own label, presenting at New York Fashion Week and launching outstanding fragrances.
Interior designer Iris Apfel (New York, 1921) found worldwide fame at the age of 84 when the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York decided to show her impressive collection of clothes in an exhibition aptly named “Rara Avis” which included pieces by Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Lanvin and Nina Ricci amongst many others. However, Iris had been succeeding for decades with Old World Weavers the interior design and textiles company she used to run with her husband Carl. Their clients had such famous names as Great Garbo and Estée Lauder. She is also known for having decorated the White House living space for 9 presidents from Harry S Truman to Bill Clinton. At 95, she is still thriving and has started designing jewellery.
Joan Didion (Sacramento, 1934) is the main character in a life story that goes from being a writer to becoming a legend. She is, of course, one of the most important writers of her generation but also a cultural icon for describing the fragmentation of American morals since the 1960s with fiendish accuracy. Joan started working at Vogue right after college in 1956, and 50 years later in 2015, she became the most talked-of model of the year after starring in Céline’s campaign by Juergen Teller. Her last book has just been released less than a month ago. 82 looks like a good age to be publishing texts.
Bianca Jagger (Managua, 1945) was a teenager during the 60s but the Flower Power spirit still lives on in her 50 years later. Bianca might still have the Jagger surname but she was always much more than “the wife of”. She knew that by retaining her famous last name her humanitarian actions would gain in publicity. She is the founder the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, has worked for the United Nations, and at 71 she is still collaborating with Amnesty International and raising her voice literally and through social media against violations of human rights, fracking, violence against women and deforestation. It is never too late to change the world.