Society Dreams: Carmen Dell’Orefice

Featured image
A different kind of photo shoot. Photo: JH.

Friday, April 26, 2024. Beautiful day, yesterday in New York with lots of sun and people out and about all over town. The weatherman predicts we’ve got more of this in the week ahead.

Today, Lauren Lawrence’s dream society subject is supermodel Carmen Dell ‘Orefice, a “longtime friend, beautiful inside and out. Inspirational. And still modeling at 92.”

I’ve personally known Carmen for a long time, too. She’s one of the nicest of anyone you could ever meet, and her physical beauty is comparable to that. When you meet her,  you’re struck by her outstanding beauty, of course, but almost immediately you’re struck by how warm and friendly she is, down-to-earth and chic. It’s kind of a thrill just knowing this amazing woman.

One of Carmen Dell’Orefice’s first appearances in Vogue, photographed by Irving Penn, July 1, 1946.

Her life story, aside from her very long and successful  career in front of a camera, could easily be a movie, a TV series or play, full of drama of fate, New York, and family.

She began her exceptional career when she was fifteen in 1946 and became a favorite model of photographer Erwin Blumenfeld who shot her first Vogue cover that year. She was photographed soon after by Irving Penn as Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and Cinderella along with model Dorian Leigh and famous movie stars Ray Bolger and Jose Ferrer. She was paid $7.50 an hour which doesn’t sound like much, but it was in a world where the average pay for any worker was 25 – 35 cents an hour.

Nevertheless because her mother and father’s marriage was “come-and-go” at times, she was also an accomplished seamstress and worked with her mother making clothes for other models. Because of their financial situation, she didn’t have a telephone and so Vogue had to send runners to tell her of the next assignments. More than once, she retired and later returned to modeling in order to support herself and her daughter by one of her three husbands.

Carmen photographed as Snow White by Irving Penn, Vogue, December 15, 1946.

Among the notable things about her character is that she approached any hardships by carrying on, moving forward and accepting more modeling assignments. Hardship, be it marital, financial or personal relationships, were accepted as another requirement for moving forward in her life. As time has proven: she worked harder and moved forward.

In the ‘80s and ‘90s when she was making money she invested in the stock market with Bernie Madoff (who was a friend), and lost it all when his financial truth was revealed. Nevertheless, with the up, down, all around of her experiences, Carmen still kept her personally positive attitude towards life, moving forward even after losing all of her life savings (not once but twice). And so it remains for Carmen, up and about and ready to go (to work)! Amazing.

📷Billy Farrell/

by Lauren Lawrence

Carmen Dell ‘Orefice and Lauren Lawrence in 2019.

The Dream: “I dream it is winter. I am sitting on a park bench with my father (who is deceased). There is a blanket around us, so we are not cold. My father tells me, ‘You will be all right.’”

The Interpretation: As a concert violinist Carmen’s father would frequently leave home to perform, leaving Carmen to await their many wonderful walks in Central Park upon his return. By filling the park with the warmth of her father’s presence, and the warmth of childhood memories, Carmen’s dream reverses the chill and bareness of winter – the season of leaving. The wish of the dream is to reunite with her deceased father and receive consolation from this reunion. Love visitation dreams of the deceased are dreamt during a bleak period in one’s life, an emotional winter, if you will.

The dream provides warmth between father and daughter – a blanket is around them. The blanket represents the nurturing accoutrements of security and comfort, and reflects the wish to be taken care of, covered and protected.

In this view, the blanket is symbolic of the father. Carmen is blanketed in love.

Sitting down reveals it is not yet time to go, especially when sitting on the bench has deep symbolic significance: Being benched means one is not allowed to play – in other words, Carmen’s father will not leave to play violin as he did in the past. The park bench offers the stability of that which is nailed down, solid and permanent – it symbolizes something that will always bear the weight that she carries.

For private dream analysis, contact

Recent Posts