Lou Kenny, 59, on walking London Fashion Week: “I prepped by vacuuming in heels!”
-Sep 17, Hannah Hargrave, Living -
Strutting your stuff on the runway for Fashion Week can be a daunting prospect for any model, but Australian model Lou Kenny first did it with gusto at the age of 58 and now she’s giving Lumity the low-down on what it was like and why experience, respect and some unusual prep gave her the confidence to steal the show!
Last year model and yoga instructor Lou Kenny – now 59 – made headlines for ruling the runway for Vogue Australia at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Week and now, as New York Fashion Week draws to a close and London Fashion Week is underway, the blue-eyed, grey-haired bombshell is reliving what it was like, before, during and after that dream day.
You’ve since gone on to walk other for designers David Jones, Camila Kaftan and Paula Knorr in three separate Fashion Weeks but tell us how you felt to be asked that very first time last year?
“I was super excited, a little nervous and extremely stoked. On top of that I was also honoured.”
Is it really utter chaos backstage?
“Absolutely it really is madness, which I find quite unnecessary. I will say though that this one was under the direction of Mark Vassallo (who is now here in UK heading up Far Fetched) and he has such an air of calm and control that prevails so all was relatively smooth sailing backstage.
“My own personal motto is ‘less haste, more speed’ – we all have our own individual dressers, so I make sure we go carefully through the garments together checking for any tricky bits, shoe changes and all.”
What was the thing you were most concerned about walking at Fashion Week? (falling over? Dress falling off? The reception you would get as an older model?)
“Shoes, it’s always the shoes. With any new shoe at home I’ll wear them with socks to break them in, but of course that’s not the case at shows. I’ve come away with blisters on blisters. Oh and the heels! I sometimes practice at home vacuuming in heels. Very seldom I might add, and definitely not when wine is in the mix!”
This is far from your first foray modelling on a catwalk but did walking at Fashion Week feel different to any you’ve walked before?
“It was on a grand scale, one of the largest audiences I’ve ever seen (in number that is). It was a very hot evening in Melbourne and the venue was The Royal Exhibition Buildings, which due to its heritage listing does not have air conditioning, so the whole audience, all 2000 + of them, were fanning themselves with the programs.
“There was no “catwalk” as such, not elevated anyway, instead we walked on the floor, a beautiful historic parquetry floor that felt so solid and rich underfoot which is empowering in itself.
“The width was about four meters or more and the audience seating was fanned low to high on each side, with a barrage of photographers at the end blinding us with their flashes (on cameras that is – haha).”
Were you nervous? What were you thinking and what was the reception?
“As we lined up backstage ready to strut our stuff, there was a monitor of front of house for queueing purposes. I was watching that thinking ‘OH MY GOD! Yikes, gulp, here we go, head high, don’t give a – you know what!’ and off I went. I remember as I approached the runway the crowd began to applaud and this grew to a roar. I honestly didn’t know what was going on (maybe a celeb had come on behind me?) I might add I was the only older model in the show, and as it turned out the appreciation was for me. Wow, I was chuffed.”
Did you feel you were treated with a little more respect because of your maturity or were you ‘bossed around’ like the rest of them?
“You get back what you’re given, I treat everyone how I wish to be treated. We work as a team. Some chose not to be part of the team. Yes, it happens but you find those folk don’t always get asked back. I aim to blend, I don’t need any concessions, my advantage is my experience and trusting in myself to deliver and deliver well, without raining on anyone else’s parade – pardon the pun.”
Do you think you appreciated it more now than you would have done if you’d have walked it as a 20-something model?
“Yes, I probably am more appreciative all round these days. I did take it for granted in my 20’s – I thought they were lucky to have me! oh dear what an attitude, I laugh about it now. However I do feel its a two way street, we (clients/myself) interact on a different level now, we are all just trying to make it look appealing and cool.”
Would you like to see more mature models on the catwalks today?
“I watched a show in London last year, one that some of my buddies were in and it struck me as a punter how much notice you take of the eyes and I observed there was a certain element of fear in there which impacted on me. I realised it’s because we as older models only get to do the odd show rather than regularly strutting therefore we are not as accustom to it. We are out of practice, therefore less confident. So if we continue to practice, practice, practice, (for me this is in yoga, not vacuuming in heels) when opportunity arises then we can seize it.”
If you enjoyed this interview with Lou Kenny find out what else she had to tell Lumity about self-confidence and cartwheeling at 59. The model swears by yoga to keep her healthy inside and out and she’s not the only one. Read Jules Mummery’s account of how yoga changed her life.