From Campbelltown, a historically tough, working-class suburb on Sydney’s outer western fringe, Hannah Elyse made her international debut at Louis Vuitton back in 2015 and soon after relocated to Paris. She has since carved out a niche for herself thanks to a mixture of untouchable, cool kid energy and softly spoken, easy-going charm. A long-time goth with a newfound penchant for neon (until recently she wore only black), Hannah was back in Australia before show season began, and we spoke to her about clowns, sobriety, and love at first sight.
Photographed by Lester Jones – all clothing model’s own.
You have a really strong sense of style. Were you always interested in fashion?
My high school friend group and I used to follow the fashion blogs on Tumblr and all that kind of thing. It’s funny because I would never express myself crazily [back then]. My style was always really goth and boyish. So that definitely changed.
In terms of your sense of style and what you’re interested in, do you find that it’s easier to live in Paris than it is to live in Australia? We aren’t really a big “fashion” kind of place where people dress up. And the lockout laws have killed a lot of the music and subculture, nightlife scenes in Sydney.
I do prefer to live outside of Australia. I feel like when I’m here I’m just straight away in holiday mode and I find it hard to get motivated. I feel like because—especially in this industry—Europe and America are so fast forward, it’s very quick, you’re seeing so many clients and doing so many jobs. Here it’s more relaxed. It makes me excited to get up at sunrise [in Paris] and go do sport and that kind of thing. I love having that energy, but when I’m here I feel like I’m just, like… I want to lay on a beach and do nothing, lay in nature and do nothing.
At what point did you move to Paris?
That was pretty much when I started working for Louis Vuitton. I guess I was based there for most of the time, that’s where most of my clients are. So for the last four years, I’ve spent most of my time there.
The first Vuitton booking in Paris, was that the first time that you’d ever been overseas?
Yes, it was. I think—cause I was naive, I was 16 years old—I was just like, “oh yeah, this is so good!” Just living alone and stuff. I think it made me become an adult very quickly.
How did you cope? Were you lonely?
Not really, no. I guess I like being alone, anyway. I like my own personal space. So I think I did quite well. I didn’t get homesick very often or at all.
What does your family think about you being a model and living so far away?
They’re really supportive and excited for me. I think they miss me, but they’re really glad I have something I’m excited about.
Campbelltown is not exactly known as a fashion destination. What do you like about the place where you grew up?
I don’t know how to explain this… I like that I didn’t grow up privileged. Especially in this industry because I feel like I would’ve been so caught up with, you know, the whole “lifestyle” and let it get to my head. But I think because I come from somewhere that’s a bit poorer [laughs]… I know to just have fun and really enjoy the experiences. I’m not waiting for what happens next. I’m excited about now.
I always like to find out how people got into the industry, whether it found them or vice versa. How did you become interested in modeling? Were you scouted?
No, I applied to some agencies here [in Australia] and Chadwicks were the first to be like, “yes, we want her.” My sister [Imogen] was modeling in Australia. She’s a good, like, 10 years older than me. She only did it for a couple of years then decided to go do something else. I was just hating school and she was like, “why don’t you just try?” I didn’t expect anything would come from it. But not long after [getting signed], Monster found me through Chadwicks. And then through that, that’s how I got the Louis Vuitton exclusive.
Who have you really enjoyed working with since then? Before, when we were shooting, you mentioned Samuel Francois.
There are so many people that I love working with. Just off the top of my head, cause I’m in Australia, I really love Alex Perry, the whole team is so nice. Like when we’re shooting they’ll make sure that I’m not in the sun for too long, and even if it’s 40 degrees [celsius] out, they make it feel so comfortable. It’s nice to have people who care that much. It’s really refreshing.
Are there any big challenges you have faced professionally? Like maybe times where you felt like work had slowed or you worried that a repeat client wasn’t booking you.
I don’t really stress about that too much. Maybe I’ll be like, “oh, that sucks.” But it doesn’t really matter cause there are so many clients that I do work with and it’s always changing. I wouldn’t hold a grudge. If I had my own brand I wouldn’t use the same models all the time. I’d like to have it different. So I understand and I just enjoy what I’m doing now, basically.
What do you want to do after modeling, do you think? Are you pursuing other things currently?
Not so much currently. I am starting to work on clothes and a few other projects. I’d like to just experience different things. I’d like to do acting soon. I think when I’m older maybe I’ll get more into makeup, but I mean, there are so many amazing makeup artists out there. I don’t think I could compare.
In terms of acting, who would you want to work with? In a ‘wild dream’ situation.
My dream role would be Pennywise from It. I would love to do that role. In my spare time, me and my best friend, we do full clown makeup and dress up as clowns and we just go walking around New York City in daylight. It’s just so much fun. We just do it because it’s funny.
That’s not what I was expecting, not at all. My mind’s kind of blown by the Pennywise answer! So you’re not a Juggalo, but you just… have you always loved clowns?
I mean the first horror movie I ever watched was It by Stephen King and, I don’t know, it made me so excited.
How old were you?
Probably in Year Five [5th Grade]. I don’t know how old that is. Year Five, Six. So like… ten or something?
I think that’s around 10 or 11, so really quite young.
I used to have sleepovers with my best friend in primary school. Every weekend we would stay up all night and watch horror films. We’d just go to the video store and get as many horror films as we could and watch them all. We used to get super excited about it [laughs]. I mean, I’d definitely like to pursue the horror thing.
Are you taking acting classes?
I’m not at the moment. I do practice. Me and my friend will practice, at home we’ll just pull up a script and we read it to each other. It’s kind of funny. But I definitely want to do it, I gotta get out of my comfort zone with that.
What about something new that you’re currently really into?
Living healthier. I never used to really pay attention or care and now I’m actually enjoying being more active and that kind of thing. It sounds so boring! I’ve also gotten sober from alcohol for five months now. It’s helped me.
I read something where Jess Hart was talking about how she had stopped drinking. And how it made her experience life in a totally different way.
Yeah. It just changes everything, especially for someone that used to drink as much as me. It really changes a lot. I feel like it’s made everything better. I’m having more fun with life and being more in the moment as well.
And the exercise helps too? What do you like doing?
I like to run, I just do random workouts. I like to do like Muay Thai every now and then. I love being in nature and spending time with my husband and my dog. This is so basic, so small, but we do campfires and… I just love that moment. I feel like that’s more special than anything else.
This is in France?
Yeah. We go to abandoned train lines, or just in a park and do a campfire and cook food. We do that a lot.
Is your husband Australian? How did you meet him?
No, he’s British. He actually found me through Instagram [laughs]. And I wanted a tattoo from him, so I was just like, “Fuck it! I’ll meet someone I don’t know.” And it was pretty much love at first sight.
No way! Did you still end up getting the tattoo from him?
The first one I got was actually his name. I got that after a month of knowing him.
So you’re like a wholesome, sporty goth these days.
I’m just on that sportswoman life now! [laughs]