Leo Espinosa Asia’s Style Arbiter: Projecting Art and Beauty

Por: Edward Rueda

24, February, 2022 en Industrie

Leo Espinosa, Asia’s Style Arbiter: Projecting Art and Beauty

By: Geraldine Zialcita

When I think about art and beauty, I picture Leo Espinosa who has taken his creative expression to the fullest potential.

Stepping inside his private beach sanctuary which is nestled in a half a hectare lot located at Batangas, south of Metro Manila awakened my five senses. Leo greeted me from a distance wearing an intricate golden Japanese Kimono on top of an Egyptian inspired Djellaba with matching timeless jewelry. Spellbound by the Eastern and Western fusion of his attire which was bursting with character, I knew from then on that he had a story to tell.

As I approached Leo, he gave me a tight hug and I felt like we were two old friends who had lots of catching up to do. He toured me around his ornamental home, sharing how his travels have influenced his inspiration, noting every piece of antique, furniture and artwork which had some history tied to it. “My goal early on was to promote art and beauty,” he shared. “I like to wake up in the morning appreciating beautiful things which is why my home is filled with all of these.” He gestured his hands to the foyer where he welcomes his guests in style. Everything in his sanctuary spelled opulence and the aesthetics truly defined Leo’s sense of elegance.


Leo’s home exudes an eclectic mix inspired by European, Filipino, Japanese furniture and antiques. I felt like I was transported back in time where Kings and Queens lived in their kingdoms surrounded by a fortress overlooking the deep, dark blue sea. Every piece of artwork, furniture, and antique is arranged to create some mystery and possess a flair for interior decorating which Leo is known for. I was particularly drawn to the mixture of the gilded French mirror where his antique primitive table from Batangas was displayed and also included an accent of antique Japanese dolls. I felt that the pieces spoke from a mystifying past and truly resonated with me. Being surrounded by so much history, art and beauty released a profound feeling of bliss.

We strode along the seawall listening to waves crashing through the ocean banks while the cool breeze wisped through my hair. He narrated how serendipity led him to be a Lifestylist. “I grew up with my maternal grandmother who had a distinct taste for decorating her home. Instead of studying for my Algebra quiz, I would be busy rearranging furniture.” His mouth slid into a lopsided grin. “Physics, Algebra and anything involving numbers bore no relevance for me. I knew what I wanted at an early age, and everything seemed to have fallen into place. I can firmly say that I’m truly living my passion.”


Leo was aware he had a good eye for art and a knack for fashion. He would help his female friends choose what to wear for a party and coordinate everything from head to toe. “It’s all about the fine details,” he raised his eyebrows as we strolled to the end of the seawall. “I was like their fashion police.” Since Leo was excellent in choosing their clothes, he also applied make-up and styled their hair. “Think of it as a complete make-over,” he chuckled. His friends loved their new look and how Leo made them feel. Shortly after, word got around and everyone wanted a piece of what Leo could transform them into. “It’s like I unleashed the Diva in them.”

Leo didn’t expect his hobby would exhibit him as a world-renowned Lifestylist who has transformed many people’s lives. “It was when I moved to Taiwan where I gained recognition for my work.” Leo lived in Taiwan for eight years and this is where he got to express his creativity by owning a stellar hair salon, named Leo at The Hilton Hair Studio where he had the opportunity to provide service to the cream of the crop. Aside from cutting hair and applying make-up, Leo rendered his expertise in dressing up Taiwan’s socialites. “I would travel to Europe to buy fancy clothes for them,” he disclosed. “The women would get all giddy and excited about their new outfits and couldn’t wait to show them off to their friends.” Leo was classified as Taiwan’s top stylist where he was greatly known and admired for his work.

We settled on the bench in Leo’s backyard gazing at the sunset with cotton candy clouds peering right back at us as Leo continued to share his story. Leo never expected to move back to Manila, his hometown, but the socialites in Manila were still keeping tabs on him and reading about all his grandeur social events in Lifestyle Asia where Leo was a correspondent who contributed articles. When Philippine journalist, Julie Yap Daza’s daughter invited Leo to her grand wedding, Leo flew in right on time to do her hair and make-up. The Manila society picked up on Leo’s creativeness and wanted to be styled by him.


Shortly after, the owner of the iconic Manila Penninsula invited him to spearhead the beauty salon at the hotel called Strand. Leo evolved into being the most sought after Lifestylist in Manila. “I had the honor of styling and serving the former Philippine Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the whole nine years of her term, the late society icon of the Philippines, Chito Madrigal Collantes whom I admired for her elegance and taste, and who was also my benefactress. She was the one who paved the way for me to be known in the Manila society.”

Leo’s schedule was in full swing which led him to have his own showroom where he could display his art and antique collections and also cut hair for special clients. “I was getting to busy and wanted to focus on being more productive with my time.” From styling people’s hair and make-up, choosing their clothes to decorating their homes, Leo finds joy in seeing his creations come to life. His latest project is the Kamiseta hotel in Baguio where he is the brand consultant and was responsible for the overall concept, design and implementation. He also designed Kamiseta Skin in BGC and 30th Ayala Mall. “I work with people’s ideas and put them to life,” he winked with conviction.

Before bidding Leo goodbye, he grasped my hand, looked me in the eye and said, “Everything I do is to project art and beauty.” A smile played on my lips as I left Leo’s sacred haven feeling inspired, rejuvenated, knowing that art and beauty brings so much joy not just to Leo, but to the people around him.

LEO ESPINOSA Creative Team

Creative Director: BARBARA LEE SYCIP

Hair and Make-Up: LEO ESPINOSA

Lighting Assistant: GREG REBUSTILO


Photographer: VINCENT GOTTI

Location: LE PARADIS Batangas Philippines