CLOTHES AND FASHION IN VIETNAM

CLOTHES AND CLOTHING CUSTOMS IN VIETNAM

The traditional attire of the Kinh (Vietnamese) in the north is a brown pajama set for men. A four paneled robe, bra, and trousers for women, also in brown, are usually worn. In the southern delta plains, both men and women wear black pajamas. At present, the Kinh's costumes resemble western clothing. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com,Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

Traditional costumes of the Vietnamese people tend to be very simple and modest. In feudal times, there were strict dress codes. Ordinary people were not allowed to wear clothes with dyes other than black, brown or white. Costumes in yellow were reserved for the King. Those in purple and red were reserved for high ranking court officials, while dresses in blue were exclusively worn by petty court officials. Men's dress has gradually changed along with social development. The traditional set of a long gown and turban gave way to more modern looking suits, while business shirts and trousers have replaced traditional long sleeved shirts and wide trousers. Traditional costumes still exist and efforts are increasingly being made to restore traditional festivals and entertainment which incorporate traditional costumes. ~

In general, Vietnamese clothing is very diverse. Every ethnic group in Vietnam has its own style of clothing. Festivals are the occasion for all to wear their favorite clothes. Over thousands of years, the traditional clothing of all ethnic groups in Vietnam has changed, but each ethnic group has separately maintained their own characteristics. In the mountain areas, people live in houses built on stilts, wear trousers or skirts and indigo vests with design motifs imitating wild flowers and beasts. In the northern uplands and the Central Highlands, the young women have made skirts and vests with beautiful and coulourful decoration in a style convenient for farm work in terraced fields and to travel on hilly slopes and mountain gorges.

Vietnamese consider clean, well-pressed clothes to be important. Women usually don't wear skirts above their knees and men don’t wear shorts. It is not unusual to see men wearing their pajamas on the streets. It is acceptable for old men to wear their pajamas and sandals as their regular day-time wear.

Vietnamese Embroidery and Jewelry

In the past, embroidery was mainly reserved for the benefit of the upper class, temples, and pagodas. The technique of this art form was rather simple, and it involved only five colors of thread: yellow, red, green, violet, and blue. Presently, embroidered goods serve both useful and decorative purposes. New technologies have helped to produce new materials, such as white cloth, lampshades, and lace. As a result, the embroidery industry has developed and there is now a wide range of new products including pillowcases, bed sheets, and kimonos. The most skilled type of embroidery is the production of portraits, which requires using up to 60 different colors of thread. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

It is believed that embroidery originated in Quat Dong Village in Ha Tay Province. Woven tapestries and brocade handbags are unique works from the skilled hands of the ethnic women living in the Northwest regions, such as Cao Bang, Lao Cai. Embroidered articles and silk products are famous from the regions of Van Phuc (Ha Tay), Nam Ha, Thai Binh, Hue, Dalat (Lam Dong). Wool tapestries from Hanoi and Haiphong, and jute tapestries from Hung Yen, Haiphong, Hanoi and Thai Binh, are much sought after. ~

As soon as the 2nd century, the Vietnamese were using gold and silver to create jewellery. There are three different techniques used to make gold and silver jewellery, including intricate carving, casting, which is the process of melting metal and pouring it into flower, lead, or bird shaped moulds, and common processing, which is a process of polishing metal. These three techniques can be combined to make intricate pieces of jewellery. Because of the flexibility of the raw materials, the color of gold, and the brightness of silver, beautiful necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, trays, and cups are created. ~

It is said that gold work originated in Dinh Cong Village near Hanoi and that silver work originated in Dong Xam Village in Thai Binh Province. Jewelry products and metalwork are concentrated in Hanoi, Thai Binh and Hung Yen, while stonework are mainly produced in Danang (Five Element Mountain Region). ~

Men’s and Women’s Clothes in Vietnam

Men wear brown shirts and white trousers. Their headgear is simply a piece of cloth wrapped around the head and their footwear consists of a pair of plain sandals. For formal ceremonies men would have two additional items, a long gown with slits on either side, and a turban, usually in black or brown made of cotton or silk. [Source: Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism ~]

Young women wear light brown-colored short shirts with long black skirts. Their headgear consists of a black turban with a peak at the front. To make their waist look smaller, they tightly fasten a long piece of pink or violet cloth.On formal occasions, they wear a special three layered dress called an "ao dai", a long gown with slits on either side. ~

The outer garment is a special silk gown called an "ao tu than" which is brown or light brown in color with four slits divided equally on its lower section. The second layer is a gown in a light yellow color and the third layer is a pink gown. When a woman wears her three gowns, she fastens the buttons on the side, and leave those on the chest unfastened so that it forms a shaped collar. This allows her to show the different colors on the upper part of the three gowns. Beneath the three gowns is a bright red brassiere which is left exposed to cover the woman's neck.

Today, in Ho Chi Minh City—and to a lesser extent Hanoi—you can find young women wearing micro-mini skirts and bikini top. Many older women wear traditional embroidered jackets.

Conical Hats and Other Protection from the Sun

This traditional conical hat is particularly suitable for a tropical country such as Vietnam, where fierce sunshine and hard rain are commonplace. Fair skin is prized for its beauty in Vietnam and other Asian countries. Tanned skin implies a lower class person who labors for a living outdoors. For protection from the sun and to keep skin white, Vietnamese women also wear long, elbow-length gloves. When ride motorscooters they wear white kerchiefs over their mouth for protection from car the exhaust and air pollution. White headbands are women only at funerals,

An elegant looking conical palm hat, which is traditionally known as a "non bai tho" (a hat with poetry written on it), is worn as part of a woman's formal dress. To make this hat, a hat maker chooses young palm leaves that have been dried under continued sunshine. Attached beneath the almost transparent layers of dried palm leaves is a drawing of a small river wharf. Below the drawing, there is a piece of poetry to be recited by the hat wearer. These hats have traditionally been made in Hue. Hold the hat up to a light and you can see a poem written on a piece of paper placed between layers of the hat.

Ao Dai

Middle and upper class ethnic Vietnamese women have traditionally worn the Ao Dai, a slenderizing formfitting outer garment that extends from its choke-throat collar to below the knees with long sleeves and slit on either side to the waist. It is worn over a pair of pajama-type bottoms with shoes being either sandals or closed shoes as desired. The lovely pastel color combinations and their light graceful movements combined with well groomed hair and countenance make many Vietnamese women quite attractive.

Ao dais fit tight around the neck and breasts. The slits extend from below the knees to just above the waist. The loose pants worn underneath are usually white or a color that matches the ao dai. When riding a bicycle or motorbike women often wear long white gloves and tie the rear of their ao dai to a rack so it doesn’t blows in the wind or get caught in the wheels. Offices girls often wear ao dais . Semi-see-through ao dais are popular with men.

Ao dais date back to the 1920s and were adapted from Chinese long dresses, They became popular in the 1930s and have gone through many changes. Most ao dais are produced in small shops, with 5 to 30 tailors who produce 25 to 150 ao dais a week. There is a lot of competition and it is possible to get one for as little as $10.

In the old days men also wore ao dais . They were shorter and looser and their embroidery patterns often indicted the status of the person wearing it. Mandarins wore purple, The emperor had a dragon embroidered with golden thread. Today, men sometimes wear ao dais to weddings or on holidays such as Tet.

Over time, the traditional "ao dai" has gone through certain changes. Long gowns are now carefully tailored to fit the body of a Vietnamese woman. The two long slits along the side allow the gown to have two free floating panels in the front and at the back of the dress. The floating panels expose a long pair of white silk trousers. In recent years some foreign fashions have been introduced to Vietnam; however, the traditional "ao dai" remains preferable to women in both urban and rural settings.

Fashion Industry in Vietnam Grows in the Mid-2000s

AFP reported from Ho Chi Minh City: "When Anh Thu, a tall woman with black-rimmed glasses, walks into a designer boutique to choose a wedding outfit she knows exactly what she wants -- something bright. Trying on a blood red silk rose-embroidered top, the 25-year-old secretary for a trading company in Ho Chi Minh City, says sedate hues would not be fitting for her big day. "The style of the collection here is suited to my Vietnamese taste," she says. [Source: Agence France Presse, August 1, 2005 <>]

"Thu's fashion sense may stand out in this traditionally staid communist country but it lights the way ahead for Vietnam's fledgling fashion industry, both domestically and if it is to attempt to make its mark in the global market for haute couture. The emerging industry is concentrated around Ho Chi Minh City with its growing population of trendy and relatively affluent urbanites. Critics say most designers here simply copy or improvise Western and Chinese patterns. But a band of young designers in the southern business capital is seeking to assert a separate identity with works partly inspired by Vietnamese traditions that are catching the eye of foreign designers. <>

"Nguyen Quoc Binh, 25, the designer and owner of the "QB Mode" boutique helps Thu tuck in a long, orange-colored cloth beneath the top and lets it cascade in front of her. The fabric will be turned into an ankle-length skirt and acquire some pink, blue and purple layers, setting Thu back 300 dollars. In between attending to her customer, Binh tells AFP: "I like to mix many colors because I want to have fun and create the image of a happy life." After nearly two decades of economic reforms and rising affluence, fun and a happy life are becoming affordable for many Vietnamese people. "People have so far been used to wearing something that lasts long, synthetic fabrics," says Nguyen Kieu Thu, a prominent make up artist in the fashion industry. "Now the living standards are upgraded and people care about what they wear. It is a good sign for fashion. They realise that silk or cotton or linen is good and they begin to use many different kinds of material and colors. "But I think fashion in Vietnam is too young compared with other countries," she says. <>

"Binh's design and those of another young designer, Nguyen Trong Nguyen, were recently displayed at a show in Hanoi which also featured Italian fashion company Erreuno. The show was overseen by Dang Thi Minh Hanh, director of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Fashion Design Institute, who has had her works displayed on catwalks abroad. Erreuno designer Sonia Speciale was impressed with what she saw. "They are ready to be exported," Speciale says of the collections presented by Binh and Nguyen. "The only thing is that in order to be exported they have to have a proper organization and a proper base of people working for them to get the best they want. But at this point, they can be exported, no problem." Speciale marvels at the color schemes preferred by Binh and Nguyen. "What struck me was the eccentricity, especially for the skirts, they were using textiles which were like raw silk..." The outfits the designers presented at the show are aimed at special evenings or parties and bring into play the tradition of embroidery and needlework in Vietnam. "There were a good series of outfits which had orange and red as colors and it really struck me because it reminded me of fire," she says. Nguyen, 27, has an approach similar to that of Binh. <>

"Minh Hanh agrees with Speciale that Vietnam is producing talent and believes the potential is there for rapid growth. "The development of the fashion industry is the development of Vietnamese culture and society," she says. She wants a three-pronged approach to boost the industry -- train designers, educate people about fashion and promote greater exchanges between Vietnamese and foreigners in the field. "I think young designers have rich ideas ... they use a lot of embroidery and Vietnamese silk, it is very good but they don't have the basics of fashion techniques," Minh Hanh says. Vietnamese people are unfamiliar with the concept of fashion and have little access to fashion magazines, books and academic courses, she says. "We have a lot of factories which can make very good quality products but they don't have the designs. I think if we have more and more young designers, who have learned the basics of fashion, I think Vietnamese fashion industry will grow rapidly." Thu, the make up expert, calls for greater maturity. "The color schemes are good on the catwalk, in fashion shows, but we should seek harmony with global fashion trends. In real life people like more subtle, more classical, more elegant colors." But she shares Minh Hanh's optimism for the industry. <>

Fashion Among Vietnamese Youth

Ben Stocking of Knight Ridder Newspapers wrote: "In a nation where per capita income is still around $420, most people cannot afford to indulge in the latest fashions. And, while fashion consciousness is growing among the wealthier set, it is still not unusual to see people wearing patterns that clash so badly they can unleash a bad case of vertigo. [Source: Ben Stocking, Knight Ridder Newspapers, September 4, 2003 \^/]

"In Vietnam as in the rest of the world, men are generally less fashion-focused than women. But even some young men are beginning to pay more attention to what they wear. Some are adopting a sort of American skateboarder look. And some, like their female counterparts, are dyeing their hair red. One young man who lives across the street from Thanh wears jeans that he has intentionally torn and frayed. "It looks ugly - terrible,'' Thanh said. \^/

"Thanh's outfit - a stained undershirt and a pair of skimpy pajama bottoms - isn't likely to win him any fashion awards, either. In fact, if he's not careful, he could get fined by Hanoi's fashion police. The bureaucrats at the city's Civilized Living Department have recently begun a campaign to clean up Hanoi's streets. Among other things, they are talking about enforcing a rarely invoked law that prohibits men from wearing pajamas outdoors - a practice enjoyed by many elderly Hanoians, who see the skimpy outfits as a way to beat the tropical heat. \^/

"There are no laws on the books regulating what young women can wear. But Nguyen Hai, the 50-year-old head of Civilized Living, isn't pleased by what he sees these days. "Traditional Vietnamese clothes are not revealing,'' he said. Such somber pronouncements are unlikely to deter Nguyen Thu Huyen, a 22-year-old university student whose more conservative outfits would probably make Hai gasp. \^/

"On a recent Saturday night - the time when young women like Huyen fully indulge their more daring fashion predilections - Huyen wore an unimaginably tight pair of jeans and a skimpy top that fully revealed her cleavage, her bellybutton and a delicate rose tattoo on her shoulder. When she and three of her similarly outfitted friends walked into a bar, a table full of men rotated their heads like owls. \^/

"My favorite thing to wear is a low-cut shirt, sometimes with no bra,'' Huyen said. "Sometimes I even dare to wear very, very short shorts.'' With more and more women like Huyen on the streets these days, life is growing increasingly dangerous for young men like Dang Viet Hai An, a 21-year-old Hanoian who, with red streaks in his hair and loose-fitting American-style jeans, travels among the fashionable set. He recently was driving his Honda through the sea of motorbikes that clog the Hanoi streets, which are difficult to negotiate even when one is fully focused on the task. A young woman cruised by in pants so low-slung that An couldn't take his eyes off her. Riveted by the floral pattern on her underwear, he crashed his motorbike. "I stared at her too long,'' he said. \^/

Minh Hanh and Other Vietnamese Fashion Designers

Vietnamese designer Minh Hanh of Ho Chi Minh City is dedicated to creating uniquely Vietnamese fashion items. She became the first Vietnamese to win an international fashion prize when her two designs–a brocade and a traditional Vietnamese dress–won the New Designer Award at the 1997 Makhuhari Grand Prix in Japan. She has been invited to attend courses, fashion shows and exhibitions in more than 20 countries, including France, Sweden, Indonesia, the US and Japan. [Source: Viet Nam News :><:]

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p> More than 100 items from Minh Hahn and three Vietnamese designers were displayed at Chambord Palace in France in September 2013 as part of the activities for the 2013-2014 France-Vietnam Year. The 60 ensembles entitled "Phoenix flying to the sun" by designer Minh Hanh use Vietnamese traditional material such as silk, brocade and handmade lace. Cong Khanh’s designs are based on the architecture of Chambord while the collection of designer Trong Nguyen is based on the well-known paintings displayed at Chambord as well as the castle’s murals. "It is a pressure for us but also a great honor to introduce Vietnamese designs at a UNESCO World Heritage Site," said Hanh. :><:

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p> In 2004, Hanh showcased her latest creations at the Hue Festival. "Hue’s court and folk architecture set against a beautiful rural background is a source of inspiration for my collection," Hanh said.Her collection Return to Heaven was created especially for the festival. "I’ve been captivated by the decorative and elegant and charming designs on the royal tombs and palaces built in Hue during the reign of kings under the Minh Mang and Thieu Tri," she said. Most of the designs of her latest collection have been printed on silk, velvet, lace and tho cam (brocade) –all favorite fabrics of Hanh. :><:

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p> Hanh, manager of Ho Chi Minh City’s Fashion and Design Institute (Fadin), has taken part in previous Hue festivals. Her designs have been highly acclaimed by domestic and foreign visitors to the festival. Other respected designers from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City took part in the 2004 Hue Festival. There was a show of 600 ao dai created by 20 designers, and 100 professional and amateur models wore 500 designs. :><:

Vietnamese Fashion Designer Ngo Thai Uyen

In 1997, the Viet Nam News reported, "fashion designer Ngo Thai Uyen burst on the trend-making scene winning an award at the Fashion Connections contest in Singapore. Now a household name for fashion-conscious women in Vietnam, the former graphic designer is on top of the fashion world thanks to her keen ability to mix and match bold colors. Uyen credits her success as a businesswoman and designer to following her dreams. [Source: From Viet Name News, March 2007 \^/]

"Getting a job in fashion wasn't an option for Uyen growing up. "My grandparents, as well as my father, brother and my two aunts, are all artists. Thus, I was expected to become an artist too," Uyen said. Her family told Uyen there was no future in designing clothing. In fact, Uyen said her family and friends didn't see the difference between a seamstress and the person who designed the garment. Uyen decided to embrace her creativity and study graphic design at the College of Fine Arts In Ho Chi Minh City. In her second year, Uyen's parents moved from Vietnam to the United States. Uyen saw this as her opportunity to find her own path and stayed in Ho Chi Minh City. Looking for inspiration, Uyen entered a collection of garments for the Fashion Connections only one year later. \^/

"Uyen remembers the moment she realised designing clothing was more than just a hobby. "It came upon me suddenly. I like to go out and discover new things. Also, I like to be left alone sometimes to engage in my creative process," she said. "Fashion design brings me opportunities to go to many places and engage in different art forms to find inspiration for my work. It is those moments that help me to experience the best life has to offer." \^/

"But Uyen quickly learned having a goal and achieving it weren't the same thing. Wanting to continue creating original pieces, Uyen founded the Ngo Thai Uyen (NTU) Design Joint Stock Company in 2004. Though no one disputed Uyen's talent as a designer, she was unable to launch an original collection immediately. Instead, her company designed scarves for U.S. fashion house J Jill. The thick scarves with their unique colors and patterns sold for US$108, with the label "Designed and made in Vietnam" proudly sewn on each piece. After only one year, Uyen was forced to end her contract with J. Jill because Vietnamese silk producers were unable to reproduce her designs. "It was difficult to make the scarves match my sample designs because silk woven in Vietnam often varies in color from piece to piece. Most of the big producers refused to co-operate when they saw the patterns I wanted," she said. \^/

"Uyen learned a lot of important lessons from this first foray into the professional world of fashion design. "In order to run a fashion business effectively, it's necessary to have professional designers, producers and support personnel. That's why to succeed long-term, we need to train our people, and that takes time," said Uyen. Uyen was determined to make up for lost ground and immediately began designing her own line and garments for consumers she knew inside and out: Vietnamese trend-setters. Uyen used her industry contacts as the lead designer for the ViKo Glowin Co and as an instructor at the Fine Arts Association to get investors to fund her label Natural Ngo Thai Uyen. \^/

"Soon enough, Uyen saw her hard work pay off. In 2006, NTU Design Joint Stock Company recorded a profit for the first time. Critics in the fashion world said her success can be attributed to the popularity of her living with Nature collection. Uyen, the company's art and managing director, has even bigger plans for 2007. The next two collections Uyen plans to debut are called Green Life and Urban Life. The first is set to be released in April, followed by the second in August. She said these collections were designed to give businesswomen a fresh look. \^/

"I know I am now on the right track, although my company didn't earn profits right away. My purpose is to create fashion products for Vietnamese people. But in the long run, I also want to complete a product from A to Z to provide it to the international markets," said Uyen. Staying hot in the fashion world means a designer must have a strong work ethic, according to Uyen. To stay competitive, Uyen said she used to spend 70 percent of her week at the office. Also, she keeps close ties with the artistic community and engages in different artistic activities in Ho Chi Minh City. \^/

Vietnamese Fashionistas in Hanoi

Phung Phuong Hanh wrote in the Viet Nam News, "Chic and Hanoi are not two words usually seen together and Hanoi isn’t exactly Paris when it comes to fashion, but a new generation of fashionistas hungry for something different are bringing a new style to the city – gypsy chic. Gypsy chic is the antithesis to conventional printed t-shirts and tight jeans. This is a genre defined by Bohemian fashion: colorful patterns, chunky accessories and loose-fitting skirts and pants that are artfully crafted to still show off a curve here and there. Followers are dubbed gypsy chicks, Gypsyholics or Boho-chicks. [Source: Phung Phuong Hanh, Viet Nam News, July 26, 2009 |/\|]

"You can’t be a self-proclaimed gypsy chick without visiting Chap va (Patchwork) boutique on Duong Thanh Street. At first glance, it is hard to tell exactly what the store specialises in – the window display looks like a cross between a furniture or clothes store and a contemporary art gallery, but step inside and prepare to shop. Inside is not much different, with a grand piano and antique mirror accompanying the display of clothes and accessories with no obvious order. Despite the seemingly spontaneous presentation, all the pieces set each other off very well. |/\|

"The store was the brainchild of four former Hanoi University students Hong Mi, Anh Thu, Thi Nga and Hong Hanh. "We opened the shop to satisfy our passion for unique styles and to share our hobby with other like minded people," Hanh says. Although the four didn’t formally study art, their individual styles and flair for design shines through in both the ambience of the store and the pieces they create. The main theme of Chap Va follows a Bohemian style inspired by handicrafts. |/\|

"When making their collection, the four girls collect second-hand clothing, then do each piece up using small pieces of colored stone, beads or embroidery. More recently, they have started importing creations from Thailand and India. All the clothes are loose fitting but flattering: hipsters, harem pants and long dresses take the fore. Patterns tend to be floral, or ethnic-inspired in print or embroidery. Their collection also includes earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and belts, which are all hand made. |/\|

"Natural materials are favored, especially wood and stone. Artificial flowers also feature heavily. As well as innovations in fashion, the shop is trying out new bargain ideas with a "buffet packet" deal, which works a bit like a pick and mix. Customers are given a bag which they can fill with anything on offer and pay only VND400,000. It’s a good way to test your packing skills. With all their new ideas, the girls faced a lot of challenges when they were starting out, Hanh says. "It’s been difficult. We didn’t receive any encouragement in the beginning, people said we were crazy," she says. "We didn’t know how to do it, but we tried our best and now we are reaping the rewards." It seems the girls are living their slogan: "Cu mac ho, mac di" ("no worries, wear our clothes"). One style fits all, young or old, whatever nationality. |/\|

"Not far from Duong Thanh is another popular hang out for gypsy chicks on the look out to add to their wardrobes – Hang Da Market. The market was recently rebuilt along Phung Hung and Cua Dong streets. The venue is well-known as a top spot for second-hand bargain hunters. Clothes and accessories galore are displayed at tens of stalls, each with their own particular style. There are mountains of pieces on offer , so bargain hunters have to be careful that what they are buying is good quality. |/\|

"The hustle and bustle is a bit stressful, but the desire to find a good outfit can be enough to fuel young fashionistas for hours. Just when you begin to feel the dull ache of fatigue, there’s always an exciting piece to get you going again. Nothing beats the feeling of heading home with a couple of stylish new outfits in hand. Combining second-hand clothes with the right accessories can give you a really unique and stylish look that’s cheap but doesn’t look cheap.As the famous designer Savannah Miller said, a real bohemian is someone who has the ability to appreciate beauty on a deep level, is a profound romantic, doesn’t know any limits, and whose world is their own creation." |/\|

Models Become Actresses in Vietnam

In 2008 Viet Nam News reported: "As the Vietnamese film industry grows, many state and private film studios find they are lacking actors and actresses. Tapping into the modelling industry to fulfil this need is a win-win situation; film studios get young attractive actors and models are given an opportunity to increase their income and fame. A film featuring model-actors, Co Gai Xau Xi (Ugly Girl), is now airing on prime time. Director Nguyen Minh Chung has chosen many models for his films, such as Phi Thanh Van, Ly Anh Tuan, Trinh Kim Chi and Binh Minh. "Audiences now are fond of good-looking actors and actresses," says Chung, "models meet the demand, moreover, they have experience acting in front of the camera." "That’s the very reason why I and other directors tend to choose models as actors," he says. [Source: Viet Nam News, September 23, 2008 ||||]

"Many models become even more famous thanks to their roles on the silver screen. Model Truong Ngoc Anh is a prime example, now, she’s known as a famous actress, though she began her career on the fashion stage.Other models have also attracted a following in the acting world: Ngo Thanh Van with her role in Dong Mau Anh Hung (The Rebel), Thanh Hang in Nu Hon Than Chet (The Ghost’s Kiss) and Anh Thu in Tuyet Nhiet Doi (Tropical Snow). ||||

"In order to be in the film, The Rebel, Van had to study martial arts for two months. "My role in this film is Thuy who is good at martial arts. That’s the reason why I refused many fashion shows and music performance to practice acting," Van says. Not every model can act, so they have to audition for the directors. Almost all models have a few supporting roles before they’re given starring roles. Anh Thu had a small role in only one film before she was given a major part in her next films. "At the beginning, acting was an opportunity for me to try my talent. I didn’t really adore it," says Thu, "when I won a prize for my role in Tuyet Nhiet Doi, I was confident that I can act well." |||

"Many models appear with an introduction as model-actress-singer, which doesn’t surprise their audience. Ngo Thanh Van and Ho Ngoc Ha are two models who have successful singing careers. Now, Phi Thanh Van will try her luck on the musical stage. "Acting brings good income for models but it’s quite hard, while becoming a singer is cushy and the pay is attractive," she says. The models must have a good voice and unique style if they want to promote their career in singing. ||||

"The life-span of modelling careers isn’t long. When models hit middle age they no longer get the same offers, so many try to expand their career while they are still on top. "If models just want enough food, income from the catwalk is enough for them but if they want to be wealthy, they should make a career in business," says supermodel Vu Thu Phuong, who owns four fashion shops. Anh Thu and Xuan Lan have made successful businesses with companies that train young models. Breaking into television advertising is the career choice of many models because the work is not as strenuous as acting. These models aren’t just fashion mannequins, but multifaceted performers willing to answer the door when opportunity comes knocking. ||||

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Vietnamtourism. com, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, Fox News and various websites, books and other publications identified in the text.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2014

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