This has been a banner year for my friend, modelling super-legend Carmen Dell’Orefice; she turned 80 in June, was made an Honorary Doctor by the University of the Arts in July and has kept up the kind of work schedule in the interim that would give a teenager pause. Last week Carmen: A Life in Fashion, an exhibition charting her unique 66 year career, opened at LCF’s Fashion Space Gallery. You need to go and see it. It was my first attempt at curation. A labour of love to be sure, but what’s not love when the images are master works by Avedon, Penn, Parkinson, Beaton, and Skrebneski? London College of Fashion hosted not one but two celebratory events, attracting London’s boldest bold face names.
After Wednesday night’s party it was a case of “all back to my place” for Erin O’ Connor, Philip Treacy, Selina Blow, Hannah Marshall, Leanne Wierzba (of the Fashion Space Gallery) and photographer Tim Petersen who had flown in from New York for the occasion. My place of course is the super salubrious and super sexy Fumoir bar at Claridge’s, which doubles as my London office. Matinee idol barman George served drinks until 3am, Carmen and Philip fashioned a hat out of nowhere and the self-effacing but quietly brilliant Mr. Petersen – for whom the term stealing beauty might have been invented – recorded the whole thing. Tim’s images prove (did we doubt it?) that Carmen is a beauty for the small hours as well as the ages.
Toulouse-Lautrec was a master of design, an architect of celebrity, a dazzling image-maker. Was there ever an artist so tender or so trenchant? He may have been enthralled by women, by sex and by the bohemian life of Montmartre but he never lost his coolly appraising eye.