Paris Haute Couture Show Features 85-Year-Old Model in Bridal Gown

Sabrina Rojas Weiss

The long-standing tradition of the Paris haute couture fashion shows is to send a bridal look down the runway for the grand finale. Not usually part of that tradition: Sending an 85-year-old model in a blood-red gown. Chinese couturier Guo Pei chose the great Carmen Dell’Orefice to close her show on Wednesday. This casting choice begs the question: is the designer making a statement by celebrating older brides?

Guo Pei, best known as the designer of Rihanna’s brilliant yellow 2015 Met Gala gown, titled this collection “Legend.” Finishing with such a legendary model as Dell’Orefice, who’s been modeling since she covered Vogue at 15, is only fitting. The show took place in a venue loaded with historical symbolism: The Conciergerie was once a palace that was converted into a prison, and it’s where Marie Antoinette spent her final days.

Many of the gowns featured fabrics inspired by the murals of St. Gallen Cathedral in Switzerland, according to Women’s Wear Daily. Some of their elaborately constructed designs looked like they’d be at home in a European ballroom of yore, or, perhaps, at the Vatican.

Carmen Dell’Orefice walks the runway during the Guo Pei Spring Summer 2017 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 25, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo: Kay-Paris Fernandes/Getty Images)
Carmen Dell’Orefice walks the runway during the Guo Pei Spring Summer 2017 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 25, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo: Kay-Paris Fernandes/Getty Images)

The final look, with its giant-collared cape and beaded details, not to mention the crown-like headdress set atop the model’s regal white hair, was also fit for a queen of centuries past. The color, though, seems to be a nod to Chinese bridal tradition. Brides in China often choose red — a color of prosperity and love — for one of their wedding looks.

This isn’t the first time Dell’Orefice and Guo Pei have worked together. In 2010, she flew her to Beijing Fashion Week for her “1002 Arabian Nights” show. Four attendants helped her with the fur-trimmed cape for that white empress look.

‘‘I was awe-struck by the pure beauty,” Dell’Orefice told T Magazine of that show. “She brings some part of the Chinese history forward and jumps over Mao Zedong.”

This time around, only two young men flanked Dell’Orefice as she slowly pulled the rather heavy-looking train around the runway in a march that very well could have taken place down the aisle at a wedding. Huge points to a bride of any age who manages to pull this off in real life.

Earlier this week, 17-year-old Lily-Rose Depp closed the Chanel show as a child bride in pink ruffles. One more of these and we may officially call 2017 the year of all-ages weddings.

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