Carmen – A Life in Fashion

Image: Tim Peterson 2010

A Life in Fashion
16.11.2011 – 14.01.2012

Fashion Space Gallery at London College of Fashion presents the first major photographic retrospective of Carmen Dell’Orefice. At eighty years of age, Carmen has become one of the world’s most enduring supermodels and a celebrated icon of both twentieth and twenty-first century fashion imagery and culture.  She began her modelling career at the age of thirteen, when she was discovered on a bus in New York on her way to ballet class.  In 1947, having become a favoured model of photographer Erwin Blumenfeld, she appeared on her first cover of Vogue.  It was to be the launch of a long and illustrious career in fashion, in which Carmen has and continues to work with many of the most iconic names in the industry.

The exhibition is a rare and intimate portrait of a young woman’s meteoric rise and sustained role as fashion’s muse.  On display will be photographs never before seen in public, taken from Carmen’s own personal archive, alongside key images kindly donated by photographers and their estates for the purposes of the exhibition.  These include a number of family portraits of Carmen as a young girl, as well as unpublished original photographs by Richard Avedon and Irving Penn from seminal stages of her career.  An astonishing selection of images by legendary photographers Norman Parkinson, Horst P Horst, Lillian Bassman and others will be displayed alongside quotes by Carmen, highlighting the personal subtext behind editorial fashion’s lens and revealing Carmen’s signature sense of humility, intelligence, sophistication and humour.  Bringing the portfolio up to date is a set of photographs by Ali Mahdavi, commissioned by London College of Fashion to celebrate Carmen’s 80th birthday earlier this year.

‘Carmen: A Life in Fashion’ has been curated by David Downton, fashion illustrator, Visiting Professor London College of Fashion, and a close friend of Carmen.  Exhibition design is by Karen Morgan