Vietnam Models’ Association has just been founded. Even though is has just 17-members, there is much hope that it will be able to help to professionalize the modeling profession.
Modeling is still a job with a lot of social stigma. There is a general perception that models are “long legs.” It is indeed true that “long legs” are a requirement for one to become a model. Yet, it isn’t sufficient to merely possess long legs.
According to a fashion designer, the difference between a “walking clothes hanger” and a model is professionalism, intelligence and quick reactions in all situations.
Like models elsewhere, Vietnamese models appear to dazzle in fashion shows and commercials as well as are invited to become ambassadors for some fashion or cosmetic brand names.
Those who are yet to establish their names often appear in musical video clips, TV game shows, or business customers’ conferences as well.
An average model in the south is paid around VND300,000 (Vietnamese dongs) for a show. A model of the higher tiers may receive from VND500,000-1million, and supermodels’ salary per show is around VND3 - 4 million.
Most models work for some particular show organization businesses so that they can regularly appear in shows. And in return, they have to pay their companies 30%-40% of their earnings. Only those with very strong names can hope to work independently.
And once in a while, there is rumor in the professional circle that some model or another travels abroad for “customers.” The customers are foreigners who have to pay as high as thousands of dollars for such trips.
The models of this type are wise enough not to work for any established “ring.” They mostly work on their own to avoid attention or social stigma. There are some fashion designers who aren’t just known for their designs but also for their extra job of “taking models” to “big men.”
According to a supermodel in Hanoi, the utmost she can earn is VND10million per month. But a colleague of hers receives tips worth as much after eating with a “big man” 5 times monthly.
The golden medal winner of the 2005 Vietnam Supermodel contest Thuy Huong recalled one of her shows in the north. After the show, she and other models from New Talent Company were invited by their partner to stay for dinner though it was quite late.
The partner told New Talent’s president straightforwardly after the president refused to stay, “It is those girls which we want to invite, not you.” Afterwards, the relationship between the company and that partner officially ended.
Models are troubled with other problems such as appearing in fake sexual photos or being reported as appearing in sex movies. Thus many models said that their peculiar profession made them constantly question whether people really sympathize with the “sensitive job” that they are pursuing.