Hannah Locsin goes global as a model

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Hannah Locsin
Filipina model Hannah Locsin. Photo: Miko Tiu Laurel.

Since that fateful Gucci show, Hannah Locsin has achieved global success through a mix of talent, determination, and hard (and honest) work



In the history of Philippine fashion, certain models have stood out for their careers that exposed Filipinas on a global stage. Recall the high fashion models of Ramon Valera like Cherry Pie Villonco or Pitoy Moreno’s global tours with beauty queens-turned-models like Margie Moran, Maita Gomez, and Tweetie de Leon. At present, among the rising stars is Hannah Locsin, a Filipina model whose journey from local runways to the global stage is capturing the attention of the industry worldwide.

Hannah Locsin
Photo: Miko Tiu Laurel.

With delicate yet chiseled features and standing tall at 5’ 10”, Locsin’s looks and abilities give her the versatility to oscillate between jobs that require a refined elegance, to shoots and shows that have a more contemporary edge.

Presently with the New York-based management Supreme, she embodies all the qualities the agency requires in a model: “beautiful, spirited, confident, bold, complex, natural, authentic, and unconventional.” And while it has only been a few years, we revisit her early days as a star student in Manila, her groundbreaking Gucci show, and what she is doing now in the fashion mecca that is New York City.


From star student to star model

Born and raised in Manila, Locsin always had an interest in fashion. “Growing up I was definitely more of a shy, introverted person. I had an interest in fashion but I didn’t really explore what exactly it was that intrigued me.”

She mentions her early life as a teen, excitedly watching “America’s Next Top Model.” “I felt like it was a dream that I didn’t think I could actually pursue because growing up, that kind of thing is not allowed in school, nor really allowed by my parents. Then I got older and went to college. That’s when I began to explore modeling.”

Hannah Locsin
Photo: Miko Tiu Laurel.

A consistent figure on the dean’s list as a communication arts major at De La Salle University, Locsin recalls joining small fashion shows in school. She began to attend events and meet photographers who wanted to shoot. This eventually led her to meet other freelance models in Manila. She joined the Professional Models Association of the Philippines, which she is technically still a part of. Early on, as Locsin tapped into the local market, she made the decision she had bigger dreams. “I wanted to push myself further and see what else I could do, to continuously see what I could do next, and push myself forward.”

Keeping faithful to an agreement with her parents to only seriously pursue modeling until after she graduated, she went to Malaysia after two months with the blessing of her parents. Along with a fellow model friend, Locsin wanted to test how she would fare in a country where her family wasn’t around.

“It was getting my feet wet. I was there with another Filipina friend who was modeling so we discovered it together. After that trip, I thought, ‘That wasn’t so bad.’ I already knew I wanted to see where I could go next.” 


“I wanted to push myself further and see what else I could do, to continuously see what I could do next, and push myself forward.”


It was only a matter of time that Locsin’s brave, and also quick decisions, pushed her out of the local modeling industry and abroad. 


How Hannah Locsin dares to dream big

Driven by a relentless pursuit of growth and opportunity, Locsin set her sights on international markets, particularly the fashion mecca of New York City. “I knew going to New York was the big dream. But I still wasn’t sure if that was possible.” After Malaysia, the aspiring high fashion model made the jump and traveled to New York, meeting several agencies, until eventually signing with her current agency, Supreme, which offers boutique, high-end talent management. 

While thrilled, at the time it was difficult to get a working visa in the United States. This prompted her agency to send her portfolio to their sister company Why Not Model Management in Milan. She recalls her first fashion week in 2018. “I was so excited rushing from casting to casting. I had never been so overwhelmed, exhausted, and hungry. In that fashion week, I didn’t get anything. That’s the reality of the job… And I felt I was fine with that… People were saying, more often than not, it takes a couple of seasons to get your footing in fashion, or that break.” 


“I knew going to New York was the big dream. But I still wasn’t sure if that was possible.”


A travel enthusiast, Locsin stayed on the continent for a few months, moving through Paris, Milan, and London between 2018 and 2019. When she decided to go home to Manila, fate had a surprise in store, through a casting call for Gucci in September 2019. The turning point in Locsin’s career marked an unexpected opportunity to walk the runway for the iconic Italian luxury label. 


The groundbreaking Gucci show

The opportunity to walk for Gucci seems to have risen from the decision to chop off her hair, after the suggestion of Locsin’s friend and creative director Audie Umali. “I was so scared. With longer hair, it’s safer for commercial work. The bowl cut was very different from what I’m used to but I was willing to try it.” This fateful cut was pushed back until right before fashion week. 

Locsin was not even supposed to go to Milan that season, but when her agents showed the photos to her Italian agents, her portfolio was presented to the client, and it spiraled from there. 

She was flown from Manila, and taken care of all accommodations—just for a casting. “That’s honestly the first moment that I felt ‘taken care of’ by a brand… I remember I was so sick coming into Milan. I did a full-day commercial shoot in Manila. It was freezing and I didn’t have any sleep. I thought, ‘Oh my God, this casting might change my life, and I’m not my best at the moment.’”

Along with other models, Locsin was shuttled to and from the Gucci hub for several days, fitting clothes, trying on makeup, and doing test rehearsals. “It kind of felt like a reality show. At the end of the day, we were all waiting to hear back from our agents if we were staying or eliminated,” she laughs, “Everything felt like such a blur.” 

As much as it seemed like a dream, Locsin kept her feet firmly planted on the ground. “It was just a span of a few days but it felt surreal because  as they can give it to you, it’s very easy for them to take it away.”

“I remember backstage they didn’t want to put me in my dress until the very last second. The dress was all Swarovski crystals, and the night before, the sleeve ripped so they had to sew it back again. I almost didn’t make it because of my clothes. No matter how hard they worked on it, if the clothes are damaged and not up to their standard, they’re not going to send it.”


“It kind of felt like a reality show. At the end of the day, we were all waiting to hear back from our agents if we were staying or eliminated,”


As she walked the ’70s-themed Gucci Spring/Summer 2020 show under artistic director Alessandro Michele, she debuted on the Milan runway as the first Filipino to walk for the Italian luxury brand. Confidently wearing her new apple cut with blunt bangs, Locsin donned the long-sleeved lime-colored dress with fishnet tights and shiny leather gloves. 

For that entire season, Locsin was exclusive to Gucci. She did a beauty campaign called the ‘Gucci Mascara L’Obscur Tutorial’ reminiscent of a vintage makeup tutorial. Other work for Gucci included the main spring/summer campaign, summer accessory campaign, capsule collection, and pre-fall collection. 


Although Locsin hasn’t heard from Gucci since the pandemic lockdowns in 2020, she expresses her gratitude while recalling the close connections she made with the models, designers, and creatives, 

“The pandemic happened and I can’t blame anything on that. I feel like I was at the end of it. And I thought about it. I achieved everything I possibly could with them, and they can’t keep using the same face forever, as much as I would want them to. I feel very fortunate enough honestly, to have done all of that with them. That was my time, and I’m positive about it.”


What is Hannah Locsin up to now?

At present, Locsin has settled comfortably in New York. She walks the Upper West Side and shoots guerilla-style alongside fellow model, artist, and photographer Miko Tiu Laurel. After a few years in the city, she now lives with her former roommate and now longtime partner, Noortwyck chef Jaysen Lee Clift. 

READ MORE: Hannah Locsin: Love and Life in New York

While settled in the city, she is still busy working. The model recalls one show she’s particularly proud of was with Miu Miu, where she traversed high stairs in towering platform heels, and on a carpet. So far she has worked with designers and brands like Phillip Lim, Maybelline, Diane von Furstenberg, Marc Jacobs, and Coach. A glance at her Instagram shows recent campaigns with world-renowned brand Benefit Cosmetics.

As she flourishes, Locsin does mention the frustration of getting jobs in Europe, which are often lost because of her Philippine passport—a difficulty especially when most major fashion factories and designer houses are on the European continent. “Still, I continue to tell myself that every day, especially on a hard day, believe in yourself. Grab every opportunity that you can push yourself out there. And don’t be afraid.”

Hannah Locsin
Hannah Locsin in full archival Gucci. Photo: Miko Tiu Laurel.

There are difficulties navigating the fashion industry, from the nerve-wracking moments on the runway and in front of the camera to the difficulties from on- and off-seasons. Despite this, Locsin seems to manage thanks to her grounded personality. 

“There are times where I think ‘Why isn’t this happening to me? Why didn’t I get this job? But it’s easy to get caught up in those situations. I have to ground myself because I can’t spiral out on the things that I can control. Especially in this industry, where everything is unpredictable. ‘On to the next,’ as people say!”

Besides her porcelain-clear skin, versatile look, and expressiveness in her body language, Hannah Locsin possesses a sense of calm, sometimes piercing confidence and charisma that is clear as she models—and in the ever-evolving fashion industry, she moves forward in stride.

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