Lou Kenny exudes beauty and grace. Now in her early 60s, Kenny’s career in front of the camera has lasted longer than most—around 40 years—but her magnetism only grows stronger. In recent years, she has been featured in the pages of Vogue Australia and walked at London Fashion Week. Her enduring success is testament to the fashion industry’s shift towards a more inclusive and authentic outlook, as well as to her own tireless work ethic.
Kenny started modeling in the late ‘70s while she was studying sociology. Her first gig was as an in-house model for the swimwear label Jantzen. “It sure beat waitressing,” she says. “I watched the other models arrive with huge bags full of strappy high heels and makeup. They advised me on how to apply runway makeup, walk in heels, and change as fast as buggery,” she reflects.
At age 30, Kenny gave birth to her first child. It was a complicated delivery: she had to receive considerable intervention and an epidural that lasted for 18 hours. She was left fearful of having a similar experience if she decided to have another baby, so she looked to alternative options.
“I sought the expertise of a yoga birthing person who assisted me in relaxing my physical body and, for the first time in my life, taught me how to lengthen my breath, which led to a sense of control.” It paid-off; her second birth was trouble-free and Kenny was a convert to yoga from then onwards.
This passion led Kenny to become a qualified teacher in the Iyengar yoga practice, a type of hatha yoga which places emphasis on alignment and precision. “I was in my early 40s and at quite a low ebb. Maybe it was the ol’ ‘mid-life crisis’—who knows? All I do know is that the yoga studio was the only place where I felt welcomed, loved, and empowered. The transition was deep; it felt like my heart was speaking to me and I was able to listen and respond accordingly,” she says. “I gained the courage to leave a dysfunctional relationship, relocate to the coast and, as a single parent, begin teaching yoga.”
The transformative effects of yoga have fed into Kenny’s modelling career. Her time spent on the mat has helped her to hold modeling poses without looking too stiff or strained, as well as assisting on the runway. “I feel more confident and, more importantly, graceful in my gait, which is a direct result of re-learning to walk correctly through my yoga practice,” she explains.
Physicality aside, what Kenny values most about her yoga practice is how it has introduced her to a community of like-minded people on her path to enlightenment. “I doubt if I’ll reach it,” she muses, “Although I have had glimmers of it, moments where everything feels like it just stops; that space between each breath where a sense of peace washes over me.”
This editorial shoot and article was created for Really Well.
Model: Lou Kenny @ Chadwick (Melbourne) & Kult (Sydney)
Photography: Madeleine Burke
Styling: Olivia Smythe
Beauty: Megan Everett
Words: Ingrid Kesa