(L-R) Hoang Thuy, designer Korto Momolu, Tuyet Lan and Le Quynh Trang backstage at the show, which was touted as being afflicted with of New York Fashion Week
It all started with what seemed to be great news: Vietnam's Next Top Model standouts Hoang Thuy (winner of VNTM 2011) and Tuyet Lan (runner up of VNTM 2010) had been invited to grace one of the fashion world's most prestigious catwalks, New York Fashion Week.
While the prospects of the local models appearing at New York Fashion Week thrilled Vietnamese fashion lovers, a battle between the organizers and the host ignited when the email inviting Thuy and Lan to attend was released on the blog of designer Huy Vo, a former VNTM judge (2010).
"We (the designers) can only offer you (winners of Vietnam's Next Top Model) a spot in the show. However, you will have to bear all the travel, visa, accommodation and related personal costs," read the email sent to Thuy and Lan by designers Korto Momolu and Laurel DeWitt.
Meanwhile, model Huyen Trang (winner of VNTM 2010) also caught the attention from Vogue UK, Marie Claire, New York Magazine and Harper's Bazaar online for exhibiting exquisite style both on and off the catwalk the week she officially performed at New York Fashion Week.
The controversy intensified when model Ha Anh, host of VNTM 2010, implied that because the designers did not offer to cover Thuy and Lan's expenses, the invitation may not have even been legitimate.
Anh also noted that Huyen Trang overcame many difficulties to win a spot in the international fashion event, without receiving support from VNTM organizer Multimedia JSC.
The enigmatic problem here was Multimedia's emphasis on the achievements of Thuy and Lan, while failing to recognize Huyen Trang's more significant accomplishment.
"I felt ashamed to be the host who announced the giant prize awarded to Trang. Until now, I do not know whether she has received the contest's awards or not," said Ha Anh.
Le Quynh Trang, director of Multimedia JSC, said in a press conference held on February 23 that Ha Anh must apologize for accusing VNTM of not following through with the promises made to the show's winner of 2010. She said she is ready file a lawsuit against Anh if she does not retract her statement.
Quynh Trang also said that she did contact Huyen Trang in New York, but she did not reply.
She said that Ha Anh's negative comments were motivated by her own hunger for success and her dislike for Lan. Quynh Trang also provided the press evidence that allegedly proved Tuyet Lan and Hoang Thuy did in fact attend and participate in shows officially affiliated with New York Fashion Week 2012.
However, that claim was rebuked by netizens when they found out the designers who invited Thuy and Lan were not on the official list of New York Fashion Week attendees. The Couture Fashion Week in which both actually performed, was merely a concurrent event in New York City in February, and was not an official New York Fashion Week activity.
Amid the chaos, Huyen Trang created a new Facebook page to advocate her point of view. She said she has quit CA Models, her managing company, after winning VNTM, despite monthly payments of US$2,000. She acknowledged the role Multimedia played opening doors to her within the fashion industry. Huyen Trang now lives in New York where she is continuing her modeling career under the guidance of Huy Vo.
Hoang Thuy, on the other hand, has remained silent about gossip swirling around her, while Tuyet Lan has begun publicly denigrating Ha Anh.
Netizens reacted by calling Lan an ingrate for backbiting Anh, who after all, had helped Lan ever since she was first accepted as a contestant on VNTM two years ago.