While most high schoolers are beginning to think about their career paths, Louisville senior Katy O’Kane has been working as a model since age 14 and recently became a worldwide exclusive model for Louis Vuitton.
O’Kane was scouted at the mall for having a fresh face with striking features and signed with Ford Models before starting high school in 2011. Now, walking the runways of Paris, O’Kane reveals that landing this job was her big break: “This was the big yes. Everything was on the line for this.”
Paris Fashion Week 2015 was O’Kane’s first international modeling gig. She describes boarding the flight to Paris alone and dealing with language barriers as scary but shares that Nicolas Ghesquière, the creative director of Louis Vuitton, helped her stay calm.
“Working with somebody so exceptional and genuine as Nicolas really took away the nerves I had before going into the casting,” O’Kane said.
The high standards of the modeling industry and growing presence of the media can alter a person’s character, but O’Kane says she does not let that define her.
“I just have to stay true to where I came from . . . Of course the standards are high, they have to be. It’s like any job, but if you enjoy it, it shouldn’t feel like work,” says O’Kane.
Balancing her modeling career and senior year of high school was a huge transition for O’Kane, but she leans on her friends and family to keep her grounded. She looks to her mother, who is also her manager, to keep positive whenever she is feeling discouraged.
“What I realized was that not every day is going to be a good day, but there are always good parts in the day. Staying positive is powerful,” O’Kane said.
O’Kane plans on taking a gap year between high school and college to build up her portfolio for New York Fashion Week. The following year, she would like to study English at a university in New York.