Foreign models in Vietnam (Part 3)
VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnam’s fashion industry is integrating into the world. Many foreign models have developed their careers in Vietnam. VietNamNet would like to portray some of them.
Foreign models in Vietnam (Part 2)
Foreign models in Vietnam (Part 1)
The girl from Sweden
Viola Johansson (right).
Viola Johansson looks younger than her real age, 20, though she has been working as a model for five years.
Viola’s elder sister, Adelaida, who has worked in Vietnam for nearly two years, encouraged Viola to go abroad (Vietnam) to study and pursue her modeling career. Adelaida worked with Elite Vietnam for a long time.
“According to my sister Adelaida, the modeling market in Vietnam is widely open for foreign models like me,” Viola said.
Viola began practicing as a model in Stockholm, at the age of 15. She used to work as a model in her country and in Denmark. She admitted that she does not understand much about Vietnam’s fashion but this is a potential market.
“The color and style are varied because Vietnam is a tropical country while in Sweden, black and white are the most popular colors,” she said.
According to Viola, Sweden does not have many beauty contests like Vietnam and the public does not pay attention to such events.
“In Sweden, modeling job has no connection to beauty contests like in Vietnam. As a job, models must be trained in performing techniques. It is extremely rare or never to see a Swedish model who rises from a beauty contest. Swedish models also earn based on their fame and talent,” she said.
Viola was born and grew up in Stockholm. She has traveled very often between Vietnam and Sweden. She used to live in Vietnam for six months and now she confirms to live for a long time in HCM City because she is now a student at the RMIT University in District 7.
Viola now lives in a small house on Ton Dan Street, District 4, HCM City. She and her boyfriend, a Frenchman, are taking every chance to build their careers in Vietnam. Her sister – Adelaida – goes to Vietnam to visit her for sometimes.
“My mother did not want me to live far from home. She worried about the gap of culture and lifestyle. Saigon streets are very crowded and she was afraid of traffic accidents but she had to ‘surrender’ to my determination. I call her very often to tell her about Saigon, with many delicious cuisines and wonderful coffee (smile).”
Viola said her current goal is getting a university diploma and a stable job in Vietnam. “We (foreign models) have advantage over Vietnamese models in terms of physical stature but our disadvantage is we cannot speak Vietnamese,” she added.
“Swedish women do not depend on men in all relations, so in Sweden, beautiful girls, particularly models, do not have relationship with rich men for money. If a woman works hard, it is easy to buy a house and a car. Famous models in my country earn very high income, so they do not need to exchange love for money. Foreign models in Vietnam have not made any scandal because we are aware that modeling is a job and fame is good but it is the fame in the fashion world for outstanding performing skills, not for scandals or changing rich boyfriends,” she concluded.
Viola said she lacks experience and modeling techniques but she believes in opportunity of success in Vietnam.
“Adelaida said I can seek a good job here after graduation because my English is good, plus my stature. I hope so. At first I will try to work as a model to cover my life here. It is lucky that the living cost in Vietnam is not too high!”
A good future is waiting for her in Vietnam.
Born in Barcelona, work in Saigon
Over two years ago, Nacho Navarro Regne, a design of Spain’s Adamo shoe brand, decided to settle in Saigon because he thought that Saigon is a very potential market.
“Seeing fashion collections for men here, I wondered why Vietnamese designers are not eager in creating dresses for men. The market for men’s outfits is almost neglected. Businessmen or fashionable men can only buy imported products,” Nacho said.
Nacho, 1.86m, 72kg and with a manly face, has appeared on many Vietnamese magazines like East & West Traveller, The Word HCM City, Asia Life HCM City, etc.
“I’m an amateur model like most of foreign models here. All of them have other jobs besides working as models,” he said.
Nacho went to Vietnam for the first time in 2006 to seek investment opportunities. He was astonished by the beauty of Hanoi and HCM City and attracted by the energy and vitality of these developing cities. The hot weather, high humidity and the noise from vehicles on the street… have gradually become familiar to him.
Born in a middle-class family and well educated, Nacho is too confident to work abroad. His father owns a garment company so Nacho has been familiar to the garment industry since he was a boy. Being a veterinary doctor but Nacho becomes a fashion designer and a stylist. He is very interested in the Asian and Middle East markets.
In Vietnam, he set up the Santo Nero company, which supplies Italian-styled fashion products for men. The company sells high-quality shirts with manually-made details for $100-150/shirt. He believed that the prices are suitable for Vietnamese businessmen and those who love fashion. He has inaugurated a showroom on Ly Tu Trong road, HCM City.
In November 2009, Nacho was invited to take photo for the East & West Traveller’s fashion pages. “I firstly refused but my friends encouraged me to try. The photos were nice and I looked handsome!” he said and laughed.
Nacho has gradually become “famous” in the fashion circles, with his manly beauty of the Mediterranean.
He has many Vietnamese friends, both businessmen and artists, who bring him the warmness in a strange country and helped him a lot in his first days in HCM City.
“I will build my career here because Vietnam is my second home,” he said.
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