A Brazilian model’s journey from an unexpected discovery at a mall to international runways. Leonardo Rocha talks about the challenges and milestones of his career so far, marked by walks for brands like Dolce & Gabbana, revealing his behind-the-scenes life and the influence of Brazilian culture in shaping a presence in the fashion industry. Through experiences across the US, Spain, and Brazil, his story offers insights into the importance of authenticity, resilience, and cultural identity.
My modelling journey started strolling at the mall with friends. I was 15 years old, and initially, I was like, “Me? A model? Are you sure?” But once I stepped into the agency and did my first shoot, the camera and I clicked, and from that moment on, there was no turning back. It was destiny, or maybe just a well-timed strut through the mall!
Being in front of cameras has always felt like home, but what really fueled my passion for modeling was the dream of working with big brands and circling the globe.How has your Brazilian heritage influenced your work and perspective in the fashion industry?
Embracing my Brazilian heritage is like a secret style weapon. Our culture’s warmth and resilience, as echoed in our national anthem’s “Um filho teu não foge à luta” (A son of yours doesn’t flee from the fight), inspire me daily. It’s this blend of passion and determination that shapes my perspective in the fashion world. So, every runway walk is a celebration of where I come from and a nod to the fighting spirit instilled by my Brazilian roots.
Walking for iconic brands like Dolce & Gabbana is a significant achievement. Can you describe your experience working with such high-profile fashion houses?
Working with esteemed fashion houses like Dolce & Gabbana has been a profound journey into the heart of haute couture. Their commitment to professionalism and the meticulous structure behind the scenes are impeccable. Stepping onto the runway during Milan Fashion Week, especially for my debut with Dolce & Gabbana, was genuinely a dream come true. It’s not just fashion, it’s an orchestrated masterpiece.
What challenges have you faced in the modeling industry, and how have you overcome them?
Oh, the modelling rollercoaster, where every twist and turn is a lesson in resilience! From conquering language barriers to shooting a summer campaign in minus degrees. It has been a wild ride. Communication hurdles? let’s just say fashion is my universal language. As for the ice cold shoot, a fierce pose warms up any set. The key is turning challenges into victories while having fun with the journey.
How do you prepare for major fashion shows, both mentally and physically?
Well, physically, it’s working out five times a week and maintaining a clean diet. Emotionally, I find strength in my faith, attending church is like a recharge for my spirit. It’s the perfect blend of physical discipline and spiritual grounding, ensuring I step onto the runway not just as a model but as a whole, confident being.
What aspects of modeling do you find most rewarding, and why?
The most rewarding part of modelling for me it’s the privilege of working with incredible creatives worldwide. Every collaboration is a chance to learn, grow, and carry a piece of their artistry in my heart wherever I go. It’s like having a global mentorship program! Plus, the opportunity to travel the world, doing what I love, is the ultimate dream. It’s not just about the destinations; it’s about the journey, and each shoot is a new chapter in this adventure.
In your opinion, how is the modeling scene different in the US, Spain, and Brazil?
Each country brings its unique flair to fashion. In the US, diversity takes center stage, creating a fashion melting pot. Spain’s fashion scene is a magnetic charm with Mediterranean elegance. In Brazil, modeling is a cultural masterpiece, blending Amazonian energy, coastal charm, and vibrant colors reflecting diverse culture.
Can you share a memorable moment or a turning point in your career that has had a significant impact on you?
Walking for Dolce & Gabbana at the Alta Sartoria show in Sicily, inspired by the gods of ancient Greece and Rome, was a career milestone. Dancing with fashion royalty against Scicily’s stunning backdrop, with nods to the Roman Empire and Greco-Roman mythology, was a powerful reminder of the dreams I’ve turned into reality. Each step mattered.
What advice would you give to aspiring models, especially those from Brazil, looking to make it in the international fashion scene?
For aspiring models, especially my fellow Brazilians, aiming for the international stage: Brace yourself for the journey, it won’t be a cakewalk, life rarely is. Stay true to yourself, as authenticity is your superpower. In the dynamic fashion world, hold onto your values like precious gems. and remember faith and resilience will be your secret weapons. Keep shining, stay strong and always be punctual.
What are your future goals and aspirations within the modeling industry? Do you have any specific projects or collaborations you’re excited about?
I’m beyond thrilled for the journey ahead! After eight amazing years on the international stage, I’ve recently signed with MegaModel in São Paulo, marking a return to my roots. The prospect of working in my home country for the next season feels like a beautiful homecoming. It’s not just a new chapter, it’s a celebration of growth and a chance to contribute to the vibrant Brazilian fashion scene. The runway awaits, and I’m ready to bring a fresh perspective to the place where it all began.