Dahan Phương Oanh has become the first Vietnamese female model to catwalk for the Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana at Milan Fashion Week.
Oanh became known to the public through fashion reality-show Vietnam’s Next Top Model in 2017. Since then she has been determined to follow a professional modelling career and achieve success.
With a high-fashion look, she fits the requirements of many international fashion houses, and has worked with brands such as MM6 Maison Margiela, Stella McCartney and Halpern. In July 2021, she was a key model in the campaign promoting the Gucci Diana bag. Minh Phương spoke with Oanh about her journey.
Dahan Phương Oanh appeared in a floral jacket, pleated skirt and colourful boots in the Dolce & Gabbana show at Milan Fashion Week. Photos courtesy of Dahan Phương Oanh
Inner Sanctum: How did you feel when you got a call to join Dolce & Gabbana for Milan Fashion Week?
I felt very satisfied. After finishing the show, I thought: “Wow, finally I can finish the show successfully”. When I was on the runway, I didn’t try to imagine how I looked on camera. I just felt comfortable.
I’m really happy that after all that I have been through, I finally have had a little success.
Inner Sanctum: Did you have any difficulties when casting for the show?
Yes. When I worked in London, I thought that casting wasn’t that difficult. But when I went to castings in Milan, I was shocked because it was very competitive. In Milan, they did pre-casting as there were many models who came for the same slot as me.
I have gone to castings many times, but I didn’t really imagine that there would be so many models there. I was freaked out and felt a lot of pressure.
The first casting round lasted just two minutes. They just required models to walk on the stage one time. Everything happened so fast that I didn’t know if I did well or not. I just tried my best.
I went to the second session after the agency told me that I passed the first round. The second casting day was a shoe testing session for their collection. They gave me shoes from the show and then I walked in them with the music theme of the show. Then I went back home to wait for the result.
The third session was the fitting session. On that day, I had a chance to meet the stylists, and they picked a costume suitable for my body and my face. There were many people there; I think they were directors and stylists. After the fitting, I walked. I saw that they seemed quite happy.
After two days, I finally got a call to join the show. I said to myself: “Oh my god, finally this moment has come.”
Dahan Phương Oanh in the fitting session for the Dolce & Gabbana show.
Inner Sanctum: Why did you decide to work abroad after joining Vietnam’s Next Top Model?
I was only 18 when I participated in Vietnam’s Next Top Model. I was really young. I didn’t have many experiences, I was quite afraid and didn’t know what to do. So I failed at that show. After the show, I decided to move to HCM City to start my career.
I had a lot of fun while working in HCM City. I also joined many fashion shows in Việt Nam. But only when I went abroad did the opportunities come to me more clearly. I feel that I’m quite suitable for the foreign market.
I think I’m a good fit in the foreign market because of my looks. I’m also very lucky to have a good agency. They have helped me a lot in preparing and building my profile to get ready for overseas castings.
The other reason I chose to work abroad to challenge myself and get more life experiences. I want to work in different countries and different working environments to find out which country suits me most. It is an opportunity, so why don’t I try. There are difficulties and hardships but, after all, good results came to me.
Inner Sanctum: You have worked with many famous houses such as Gucci, Stella McCartney and Dolce & Gabbana recently. What did you learn from working with them?
They are very professional. There are no redundant steps in their shooting process. Actually, when I worked with a famous brand in the first time, I was really nervous. But the staff were very friendly and professional. Each campaign had its own concept, and the staff guided me thoughtfully to finish the shooting.
So what I had to do was just be the best version of myself and perform well in shooting. To me, everything was smooth and they were also happy with what I did. So I’m quite satisfied.
I have learnt a lot from them. I understand that ‘always being yourself’ is the most important thing, and it has made me more confident. I think I’m really lucky to have many precious opportunities to cooperate with those brands.
Inner Sanctum: What are the advantages and disadvantages of working abroad?
I think ‘being myself’ is my advantage. Whenever I shoot or catwalk, no matter if the brand is famous or not, I always stay in an enjoyable mood. This helps me to release all the burdens and do the job better. But language is my drawback. I can understand what people say in English, but I think I have to learn more to improve my speaking skill to communicate with others better.
Inner Sanctum: What is your plan now?
Currently, I’m in Paris to build my profile and prepare for the next season of Fashion Week. I also really want to have a vacation as it has been a while since the last time I travelled. VNS