Vietnam’s fashion industry is integrating into the world. Many foreign models have developed their careers in Vietnam. would like to portray some of them.
Foreign models in Vietnam (Part 1)
French man on Vietnam’s catwalk
Marcus and Truc Diem.In a black simple T-shirt, Marc Guihem (Marcus) told his story by perfect English after many years studying and working in Australia, France, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, etc.
Marcus, or Ngo Huy Duc as Vietnamese name, said his father is a Vietnamese and his mother is French. The father, Ngo Huy Quang, left Vietnam to France several decades ago. The mother is a French woman, who Marcus does not know her face since she abandoned him and his father when Marcus was six months old.
“I’ve tried to find my mother but I could not. I only know that she married twice with a Frenchman and then a German man. She would be proud to know that I’m now a model in my father’s hometown,” Marcus said.
He lived in Paris with his father and four brothers and sisters in his first 16 years. After that Marcus followed his father to Congo. He then studied business at a university in Australia. He could not imagine that one day he becomes a model in Vietnam.
Marcus, 1.80m tall, 107-76-100 in body measurement, has been working as a model for 13 years in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia and Vietnam. He has been selected as models in advertisements of Pepsi, Yamaha, Samsum, CK, Valentino, Unilever, California WOW, etc.
“A friend of mine in Perth (Australia), where I studied, recommended me to try as a model. I was not confident because it is difficult for Asian models to find opportunity in Australia. I accidentally met a photographer who were working in the Philippines and took photo for Jackie Chan. She wanted to take photo of me. After that the Manila-based Calcarries Model company signed two-year contract with me. Returning to Perth, I was invited to work with Jemma International. I was so proud because I was the second Asian model in Australia, besides a Chinese supermodel.”
In 1992, Marcus visited his father’s home country for the first time. “I was only 12 at that time and I was really shocked. I began learning and discovering Vietnamese culture. The Vietnamese blood began to run in my blood-vessel. I knew that I was a complete Vietnamese,” Marcus said.
He said his father taught him to be self-reliant when he was a small boy. At the age of 27, Marcus owns a house in HCM City and has capital in the Cargoteam transport company, which has offices in Hanoi, Hai Phong and HCM City.
Marcus’ father also does business in Vietnam now and married a Vietnamese woman. “My step mother loves her stepchildren very much. All of my brothers and sisters now live in Vietnam,” he added.
Marcus said he wants to be called by his Vietnamese name - Duc.
In Vietnam, Marcus followed his father’s business career but finally he has become a model when a local fashion magazine recruited him as its photo model. Since then, the fashion circle has paid attention to this French man who has an Asian face.
Very good at English, French and Spanish, Marcus admitted that his Vietnamese is not very good because “Vietnamese language has so many accents.”
Marcus said his biggest challenge is to balance between business and modeling job.
Asking Marcus that whether he wants to be a model, a singer or an actor in the future, Marcus said: “If you do anything, you have to learn about it first. I learned and practiced to be a model for several years in the Philippines and Australia.”
“I’m glad to see that many Vietnamese male models have been aware of their job. Several years ago, Vietnamese male models looked very different from now. Most of them performed on the catwalk with their natural physical advantages. Lack of physical training and engaging in drunken merrymaking, they could not maintain their shape so their seniority is short,” Marcus commented.
Another disadvantage of Vietnamese models, according to Marcus, is their poor English, which hinders them from having access to the world catwalk. It is very easy for foreign models to sign advertising contracts in Vietnam while it is very rare to see Vietnamese models work overseas.
Marcus suddenly spoke in Vietnamese. He said he never think of returning to France or going to Australia to work because his father’s home country has given many opportunities to him and his family.
Siberian girl who loves tropical climate
20 years old, 1.75m tall, 85-62-95 in body measurement, Katya Kazanova immediately impresses others by her glacial face. But the model from Novosibirsk city in Siberia, Russia, is very friendly in conversation.
“Novosibirsk is the third largest city in Russia, after Moscow and Saint Petersburg. I guess you think that Siberia is the home to desert and snow. I come to Vietnam because I like the warm weather here,” she opened the talks.
Katya used to work as a model in Russia and Thailand, and like other foreign models in Vietnam, she did not think that one day she would live in Vietnam. But two years ago, once going to HCM City from Bangkok, she realized that this city was very close. She returned to HCM City to seek a job.
The first job of Katya in Vietnam was not a model but a DJ at some discotheques in HCM City. “As a professional DJ in Russia, I thought I would start with this trained job in Vietnam,” she recalled.
In 2010, she traveled very often between Saigon and Hanoi to attend cultural events held by the Russian Embassy and Consulate General. In the last two years, she has worked as a DJ for bars in Hanoi and HCM City in late months of the year and a model in the remaining time.
She now lives in a hired room on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Road, HCM City. She likes living in HCM City because there are so many delicious cuisines and the living cost is cheap there.
“When I was nostalgic, I cooked Russian soup to enjoy alone. I feel sad for sometimes but I have friends and my boyfriend here. I like rice with roasted pork, sunny-side up egg, cha gio (Vietnamese spring roll) and noodle fried with seafood,” she said.
Eduart Kazanov, Katya’s boyfriend, is a Russian man who manages the Fame Modeling Company in Vietnam. “I’m Eduart’s assistant, in charge of setting working schedule for models,” Katya said.
“In comparison with Vietnamese model, we (foreign models) do not have opportunities to approach to the local media but thus, we do not have scandals (laughing). We live quietly and do the job we like. But sometimes young people recognize me at public sites. I was very happy at that time!”
She said most of Vietnamese modeling companies are facing big difficulties in having access to the international fashion circles. It is a great loss for models in Vietnam because they can only serve local audience.
Competition in the field of art in Vietnam is low or even at zero level, according to Katya. It is not difficult to become a model, a singer or an actor in Vietnam, which cannot happen in Russia or developed countries.
“Art creativeness is low owing to low competition. For example, video clips of most singers are similar,” she said.
“Vietnamese models have abundants of beauty and height to go to the world but they are not good at foreign languages, special performing styles and independence,” Katya said.
According to Katya, the above things are more important than titles won at beauty contests. Foreign models do not compete in beauty pageants to have titles to earn high pay like models in Vietnam. Modeling is a job while beauty contests are games.
Katya was a model for many brands like WOW, An Phuoc, Parkson and appeared on magazines like F Magazine, Golf, Style and Traveler. She is also a JD at We Lounge and Xu Bar in HCM City.
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