Louise Pedersen is one of the world’s most famous models. For ten years she lived in bustling big cities such as London and New York. But she actually prefers her country house in Denmark.
Photography RASMUS SKOUSEN Text CHRISTINA ZEMANOVA Styling EMELIE JOHANSSON / The Horse Rider’s Journal No.2
The final stretch of the car ride to Louise Pedersen’s house proceeds at a snail’s pace. A long line of cars trails behind a tractor and the road is too narrow for anyone to overtake. We are far out in the countryside when our destination finally comes into view. At the end of a long driveway a tall woman with long brown hair and slender legs walks through the knee-high grass.
The landscape is dotted with large bushes, trees, a large white house, two terraces, a stable and a large riding arena. But there is no name on the door or anything else to indicate that one of the greatest fashion models of our time lives here.
Twenty-nine-year-old Louise P has been featured in campaigns for fashion houses such as Chanel, Armani, Gucci, Hugo Boss, DKNY, Carolina Herrera, La Perla and MaxMara. She has appeared in shows for Marc Jacobs, Prada, Gucci, Burberry, Miu Miu, Calvin Klein and DKNY – just to name a few. She has been on the cover of magazines around the world and her unique features has graced both edgy fashion stories and commercial campaigns.
For ten years she lived in New York and then London, because it was most convenient for her work. But even though she still works as a model, she has chosen to settle down in Denmark.
This came as no surprise to anyone who knows Louise. To understand her properly you have to see her out in the fields; see her walking around her country house, in tight, faded black jeans, flat brown boots, a lumberjack shirt, her hair tousled and freshly washed and her face completely free of make-up. So natural, beautiful, cool and relaxed.
Louise Pedersen grew up in Stauning, a small town in Jutland. She never imagined that she would become a model and live in the most fashionable cities in the world. Her dreams of adulthood involved working with animals, getting married, having children, living in the countryside and running a stud farm. Which was why she went to an agricultural school when she was younger. But the 174 cm tall girl weighing just under 52 kg had to give up her dreams when she was told that she was far too frail to cope with the physically demanding work of working on a farm.
Instead, she decided to move to Norway and become a waitress. But on the train from Kjern to Gol, she was spotted by a model scout. Then things moved quickly. She was photographed by star photographer Mario Testino in the infamous Gucci campaign where her pubic hair was trimmed down to a G.
She flew business class around the world, worked constantly and suffered from chronic jet lag, under constant pressure to perform and getting very little time off.
“I don’t remember anything from 2001 to 2006,” she says, as she sits in her freshly painted kitchen.
She bites at a piece of pastry and sips coffee while the make-up artist dries her brushes with a hairdryer; the two of them have worked together many times before and they chat about Louise’s new boyfriend, the infamous Danish rapper Jesper Dahl, aka Jokeren. She closes her eyes as the make-up goes on, nibbles at cheese puffs and sings along to the radio’s nineties playlist. She gives a big, proud grin when her country house is praised and she tells the story of the furniture, the renovation process and how lucky she was to have found this very place – which, most importantly, has a stable. Because she plans to have horses.
Louise P has always ridden. In primary school, she was one of many girls who went riding, and she loved it. She rode at a riding school and with her friends – essentially, whenever a chance to ride presented itself. But in recent years, she has had little time for sports, and none at all for riding.
“I miss riding. The cooperation between the rider and the horse is amazing,” she says with a big smile. “The close contact and being in control of a huge animal is fascinating. And it’s just more powerfull to have four legs than two. I love to ride through a field, because it’s like getting a huge shot of adrenaline. You feel so free.”
And because the horse can sense its rider’s mood, you have to give yourself what she calls ‘a check’: to let go of all the things that are bothering you. “It’s like meditating for me. I concentrate 100 per cent on riding. It’s a fantastic feeling.” She is least interested in dressage “because it is too controlled for me” and she likes Western. “The cooperation is so beautiful when it is done properly.” But she actually prefers a relaxing ride through the forest where she and her horse can have fun, jump a little bit and enjoy what she has missed more than anything in her many years of modelling: being close to nature.
“The animals in the forest don’t run away when you are sitting on a horse. I feel much more comfortable out in nature – I feel at home. I always get lost in big cities, but I never get lost in a forest,” she says, adding that even though she likes visiting the borough of Vesterbro in Copenhagen, she often gets claustrophobic in the city. “You can get everything on the street of Istedgade. But I would rather be here,” she says, and runs out into the driveway because she can hear the arrival of the horse for her photo shoot. She pets it gently and smiles.
“I wish that my daughter Maya was here. She would have loved it. She loves horses,” Louise says.
Her four-year-old daughter Maya attends day care just a few minutes away. Her ex-husband, the Americanart photographer Arthur Meehan, also lives right around the corner. They divide time with their daughter evenly: “Otherwise it wouldn’t be possible to get everything done,” she explains.
Her life changed when she got pregnant with Maya. Louise gained 25 kilograms – a lot for a woman who normally only weighs around 50. The pregnancy ended with an emergency caesarean when Louise developed pre-eclampsia, a condition which almost killed her. She was relieved when she got her body back after going on a strict diet and was able to return to her work. “I didn’t like being pregnant,” she says. She has previously said that she felt like she lost her face and her self-image during her pregnancy. “I will definitely not have any more children. It is way too demanding.”
Today, she works mostly in Germany, and also often in the United States and Britain. Even though she is still busy as a model, she no longer works at full speed.
She always planned to bring up her daughter in Denmark. In the countryside, with fresh air and secure surroundings, room to play and schools that are not overcrowded. But Louise certainly doesn’t look like the other residents of this sleepy city in the Danish region of North Zealand. And the country house tells the story of a woman who stands out. Louboutin sandals, Yves Saint Laurent shoes and Prada boots stand alongside the Wellingtons and practical outdoor shoes. A painting area covered with old newspapers and piles of brushes fills one corner of the house and the result of one of her creative moments hangs on the wall – a man painted with a thick brush and watercolours in shades of brown. And a couple of children’s drawings hang on the wall next to the painting.
Renovating the house was a big project. When she took it over it had been on the market for two years, and required a lot of repair work. Many things still need fixing, but with a large brick fireplace in the middle of the room and a cosy, open kitchen, it is easy to imagine how the house will eventually look.
As she talks about her plans for her home, Louise smiles – something which frequently happens, especially when talking about a subject that interests her. For example, the small, preserved animals that hang on the walls. Frame after frame holds small butterflies and insects. She captured and prepared them herself, and she explains the process in detail. Twenty-four hours in warm steam and laid out on special paper. It is a painstaking procedure. “The hardest thing is finding dead animals in perfect condition,” she explains as she proudly shows off a giant grasshopper in a glass frame.
“I love the peace here. I have total privacy. I didn’t just want to quit the city – I wanted to be myself. I would never live in the suburbs: the neighbours are too close. I like to drink coffee naked in the morning sun, without anybody else wathing me.” •