“It’s what I enjoy doing, and I’m able to do it,” she told the Today Show before stepping on to the runway in a mocha-colored floor-length gown.
Discovered at 13, while riding a New York City bus with her mom, she landed the cover of Vogue only three years later. That was back in 1947, when $7.50 an hour was the going rate for the gig.
PHOTOS: The Worst Fashion Trends of All Time
“It meant nothing to me,” she recalls of seeing her first cover, “except that I thought I looked like a little boy.”
The octogenarian beauty has long shed any hint of tomboyish-ness. Her iconic white hair, which she’s left dye-free for decades, has set the highest bar for aging gracefully.
She’s had a little help, according to Today show correspondent and interviewer Jenna Bush Hager (yes that, Jenna). Dell’Orefice admits to using fillers for “cracks in the ceiling,” but it takes a lot more than an injection to be one of the most in-demand models after 66 years in the business. Her shoulders thrust back in triumph, projecting a couture-worthy regality uncommon on the runway these days.
PHOTOS: New York Fashion Week’s Stunning Makeup Looks
It’s the kind of peacocking pride only a veteran of the business can pull off. It’s also a throwback to the days before slump-shouldered models, minimalism and Kate Moss made high fashion more bone-dry.
PHOTOS: Fashion Week’s Most Ubiquitous Fashionistas
She’s onto something: Older women with cash to spare have become a coveted demographic for marketers of luxury products. As a result, fashion has started is taking cues from women once considered past their prime.
Even outside fashion’s tiny bubble, women, not girls, have taken the reigns of style. The most powerful cross-generational trendsetter in America today is a 48-year-old mother of two. That would be Michelle Obama, as if you couldn’t guess.
At a Fashion Week event on Friday she was photographed linking arms with 28-year-old Olympian Ryan Lochte, looking every bit the model of the moment.