Lill Jenner is the kind of woman who you want to take notes from: kind, real, talented and with style that is so effortless, you know it’s completely innate (she's a born creative)...
“I really believe being kind and treating people well is so important,” she says. And it’s an ethos that has served her well. Lill landed a job in the fashion department at VOGUE magazine when she was 20 years old. It took her all over the world, before she left to co-found own resortwear brand Anna & Boy at 25. She’s since closed the label and returned to working as a freelance creative director, stylist and producer.
Her modernist home in Sydney’s north was designed in the mid 1970s by the second Sydney Opera House architect Peter Hall and its effortless style and relaxed aesthetic matches that of Lill’s. “We loved the calm, quiet of it and the indoor/outdoor living. It felt like its own world behind the front door. An oasis in suburbia,” she says, of the moment her and her husband Lucas saw the home for the first time almost four years ago. The home is filled with special pieces. In the living room, there are two large paintings by Sally King Benedict, which hang side by side and were commissioned when her twin girls were babies. One day, she’ll give each of her girls their painting.
Here, we visit Lill at home to talk about raising twin girls, her incredible career and share our edit of our favourite new pieces from Oroton.
Go to oroton.com | Hair and makeup: Jess Diez
Your home was originally designed by Peter Hall, the architect famous for completing the Opera House – how did you feel when you first walked into it?
It felt like we had come home. I can’t explain it, but I walked in and straight away I knew it would become our home. The relaxed and warm feel you experience when you walk into our house is a huge credit to the brilliance of design by Peter Hall. There is a genius to the simplicity of this design and the simplicity of living. There isn’t any fuss or tricks – it’s pared back and simple and as a result, is very easy enjoyable living. We moved in almost four years ago. We loved the calm, quiet of it and the indoor/outdoor living. It felt like its own world behind the front door. An oasis in suburbia.
Can you tell us about the two paintings you have hanging in your living room by Sally King Benedict?
We commissioned Sally to paint these when the girls were around two years old. We wanted something special to celebrate our girls. It was not an easy road to creating our family and we are very thankful every single day for them. I sent Sally a photo of our girls and this was what she created. We love them and one day will pass them on to the girls.
Lill wears Oroton Scalloped Shirt Dress, $549
What do you remember about the early days of having twins?
I always say the first two years were a blur! Which is true I am sure for most mums. I do remember what a joy they both were and how ridiculously funny they were together even from day one. Watching the interactions together was hysterical. They were such jokester’s and were always very happy little ladies. They were full of beans though and really kept us on our toes. People used to ask which twin was the quiet one and my husband and I used to laugh and say ‘No, we didn’t get one of those!’.
What was the most challenging part of having newborn twins?
I think when one of the twins was sick (or both!) or one was overtired etc. When the natural routine balance was thrown out. As they grew up, they were both very energetic. The toddler years were tricky, when they would both go in opposite directions in a playground. We had a ‘gated playground only’ rule for a while!
What did you love most about having twins when they were babies, and also right now?
They are just so CUTE together and the life long bond they have is amazing to watch. As babies, they were so funny and had their own little language. They were never lonely and have always had a lot of fun together. As toddlers they entertained each other which really is something that works in your favour having twins. Today I love to watch how different they are and yet such strong (still strong!!) intelligent and funny women they are turning into.
You began your career at VOGUE Australia – what are some of your most vivid memories of that time?
It was an amazing way to start your career. You were exposed to the best in the business and you learnt how to collaborate with many amazing creative and talented people. I still work with many that I met back then. I remember travelling all over the world which for a young 20-year-old was pretty magical.
My memories are also from what working there taught me. If you are going to do it, you might as well do it right, otherwise don’t do it at all. I always had a very strong work ethic, but VOGUE helped shape this further. It gave me confidence to back myself and taught me how to multitask like a pro!
It allowed me to dream big and I stepped into running my own business straight from my Vogue days at 25 years old. A business I had for 11 years before changing it up again and going back into fashion styling and creative directing. The older I get in this industry, the more I believe you get back what you give and I really believe being kind and treating people well is so important.
Tell us about your girls’ room – what kind of room have you created?
It follows the same philosophy as the house, easy, pared back living. Only have what you need and actually use. Keep it simple. My girls are outside more than they are in. They are lucky to have the largest room in the house! And it is a bit of a gem with its own secret garden that the girls call the ‘peace garden’.
Did you know from a young age that fashion was an area you were always going to pursue?
I was always creative. I was always dressing up and drawing and creating things. I didn’t know it would be fashion, but I always knew it would be something creative. I am constantly inspired by beautiful things in this world and in life especially in nature.
I majored in photography in my bachelor uni degree and did work experience with a photographer. During this time, I became fascinated with the people who came up with the creative concepts, who found the locations, who created the mood boards. I realised that was very often not the photographer so I decided to become a fashion editor instead.
What do you love most about working in the fashion industry?
I love creating. I love working from initial concept through to final production. I love the whole process and collaborating with talented creative people. I love the raw beauty of images/film and how powerful they can be to portray a message or a feeling. I love it when the final images/film can take you to another whole world. A world you have created… even if it’s just for a few moments. Today I am a creative director, stylist and producer depending on the job. I love working with brands and really capturing what the brands ethos is.
What is the most challenging part of working in fashion industry?
Being a freelancer! It is amazing as I get to work across many different brands and therefore many different concepts and teams which I love! The challenge is the freelance schedule as a mother. It is never the same and always changing from week to week/month to month with often lots of last-minute travel (at the moment in regional NSW due to Covid-19), which makes it hard to plan your personal or kids’ life ahead. I am very used to it though so you have to let yourself go with the flow and the places you end up shooting at are always fun to explore.
Tell us about the twin dynamic – how would you describe it?
Most of the time it is pretty gorgeous. They don’t even know what they have is so unusual and special. They take for granted each other’s company and you rarely ever really hear ‘I’m bored’ as they have each other. They do fight though like all siblings do but they get along pretty well considering they are always together and even share a bedroom. It can get competitive because they are obviously doing things developmentally at the same time so that is something my husband and I work on and we don’t emphasise winning or doing better than the other. Luckily, they have such different interests in things so each of their individual strengths are unique to them.
How do you approach parenting twins?
We discuss how different brains work differently and that all brains are great. We discuss just because one of them picks something up faster doesn’t make the other one bad at that thing. This has been a big one and so important for the other twin to not feel like a failure or to give up because her sister has picked something up first. It’s definitely a work in progress. It’s human nature to compare and they often get compared by friends, families, school but we make sure we don’t at home and make a point of highlighting the effort and the improvement as opposed to the success and how ‘good’ they are.
I have just started to write little notes in their lunchboxes to them sporadically. They are short and sweet but little observations I have made specific to the child. I want them to know I notice them as brilliant wonderful individuals. Perfect just the way they are.
What advice do you have for mothers who are expecting twins?
I am always reluctant to give advice as I don’t think there is ever a one size fits all. However, what has stuck with me and it’s the only advice I would ever give to new mums, I remember when the girls were around eight months and I was doing the ‘pram push’ on a street pavement and this man came up to me and said ‘don’t worry it gets better from age two and every phase will pass!’
I must have looked completely exhausted at that point in time for this stranger to come up to me! I have to say I don’t think my girls got easier until age four… BUT the ‘every phase will pass’ comment is very true. No matter how hard things are you have to remind yourself it is not forever and it will pass and it does.
For mothers expecting twins, lower your expectations for getting out and about when they are young. It is physically very hard to get out and about when twins are little. I used to look at mums with one child who could easily go to a restraunt, meet a friend for a coffee and think geez that looks so easy to have just one child on your hip… what a dream!
In terms of fashion, what do you wear most days?
I like to feel good even when I am working from home. Having said that my wardrobe is pretty relaxed anyway. I tend to wear simple classic pieces with a resort twist (like I am on holidays!). Polished resort wear I would call it… I like skirts and tee shirts, LOVE a good shirt dress and silk pants with a relaxed button through shirt is on high rotation.
And has the way you dressed changed this year with COVID?
Not really. Yes, I definitely wore more Lycra than normal during lockdown but that was because I was genuinely walking more than normal. I still made an effort to get dressed for the day… I like to feel confident and put together and getting dressed with a purpose definitely helps. If you put that vibe out there you definitely get it back.
Why do you think we only wear 20% of our wardrobe?
It’s silly isn’t it! I really believe we all have a ‘style set’ built into us. That being… we have certain items we always gravitate to, feel good in and wear (for someone it might be blazers, for someone else a shirt dress etc).
Yet for whatever reasons, marketing, consumerism, trends, boredom we try to push this idea rather than accepting it and therefore buy things that we think we will wear but ultimately, we don’t!
If you think of stylish women you respect, you’ll realise they have stuck to their inner style set and have not deviated and really only wear a handful of things over and over. They always look incredible because they are tuning in to what really works for them. It’s better for the planet as well if we all did this.
Do you rotate your wardrobe often – how do you keep it organised?
At the end of the season, I swap a few winter and spring pieces in/out. I really try to not over shop and buy quality over quantity. I’ve never been a huge fad shopper and tend to buy only what I know suits me. Sometimes this can feel boring, but I know they will be worn well as a result.
I do colour range my pieces in my wardrobe. I am not sure this helps with being organised but visually I prefer it that way. When I am really busy, and I am travelling a lot or have lots of shoot days in a row, I plan all my outfits out for the week. It simplifies my mornings and they flow better getting out the door. I definitely have clothes that are my ‘ on set’ uniform. In winter, it is jeans or silk pants, white tee, blazer or trench coat and in summer, it is a shirt dress or a loose skirt, silk pants with button through shirt. Always sneakers or comfortable leather sandals. You need to be able to move freely and move a lot when you are on set and you are often exposed to all sorts of natural elements so you need long sleeves and a hat!
Finally, what’s on your list of loves?
I am obsessed with the artist Tom Polo.
Tennis: NEED TO PLAY MORE.
Marysia’s new sports range/tennis collection (launching soon and goes hand in hand with no. 2!
Aesop’s new candles. They smell amazing in particular the Ptolemy one. I am a huge scent person. I love creating a mood in a space with scent.
Just read Basquiat’s book again. Loved it. In my dreams I am just painting and drawing my days away.
In association with Oroton