Billion-dong baby

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Heather Marks did not wear a pair of wings at the fifth annual fashion show Dem hoi chan dai (Leggy night), but she still managed to be the angel of the evening.

Scores of the sexiest local models took to the catwalk on May 15 at Ho Chi Minh City's Ocean Club.

Local female pop icon Ho Ngoc Ha rocked the stage with her explosive dance routine.

But Marks proved the star of the event when she wrapped up the show with a fierce stride down the catwalk.

The 23-year-old Canadian model has become internationally renowned for her big eyes and doll-like face. The Venus Modeling Firm (which organized the event) spent nearly VND1 billion (US$40,000) and months of negotiation to bring Marks to her first show in Vietnam.

The Canadian stunner was joined on the stage by a pair of South Korean models and a bunch of local starlets.

Marks' display of two haute couture dresses from up-and-coming Vietnamese-American designer Cory Tran made a huge impression on local bloggers and fashion wonks.

Many local newspapers called Marks a "Victoria Secret's Angel" "”a reference to her work with the prominent lingerie designer.

At a press conference held on the eve of the show, Marks described her eyes as her major moneymakers.

"I love my big round eyes," Marks said, dressed in a simple white dress. "They get me a lot of work."

The demure cover girl refused to answer any personal questions and turned down numerous requests for a one-on-one interview with a local television channel.

But, after a long, tiring day, she still had time to let everyone know what she thought of the country.

"Vietnam amazes me with its flood of motorbikes and yummy foods," she said.

Marks told reporters that she was consistently impressed by the Vietnamese models she had worked with in the past.

"They always show up in spiffy outfits and perfect make-up," she said.

During the conference, she said her 11-year fashion career was the result of a lifelong passion and some difficult sacrifices.

"This is the type of job that could end any day. I think I'll model for as long as I can. It is the passion for modeling and fashion that keeps me going. The longer I pursue it, the more I love it."

Marks said that her family, especially her mother, has played an important role in helping to get her career going.

"My family has always been such a great help," she said. "Since I started modeling at the age of 12, my mom quit her job, and now helps me out from home by doing accounting and arranging my flights. I honestly wouldn't be able to do this without the support I have from my family."

The Canadian model said she chose to live in New York because it is the hub of the latest fashion trends and her busy work schedule often keeps her far from home.

Marks said she planned to do more work in Asia, but deflected questions about specifics with a bat of her gorgeous eyes.

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