Season 9 of Project Runway may be the first time anyone, including the famous Tim Gunn himself, has seen his infamous words “make it work” taken so seriously. The stylist, from Trinidad, that scored the most shocking win in Project Runway history, Anya Ayoung-Chee, had no garments constructed when Gunn visited her hometown studio a mere 3 weeks before the finale.
Days before the Mercedes-Benz fashion week show where the Project Runway finalists show their own fashion line, Ayoung-Chee, along with the other finalists, did a preview show with 3 looks from their lines. It was a total disaster. Her garments showed the fact that she had only been sewing for 4 months when she’d auditioned for the show. The idea that she would lose the show was all but a forgone conclusion. In fact, she knew it in her gut and basically said her goodbyes at the preview to iconic judges Heidi Klum, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia.
Last minute miracle
In true Project Runway style, Tim Gunn entered with a last-minute change-up. Each designer was allowed an additional $500 dollars, 30 minutes at Mood fabrics and the ability to add 3 looks to their line. Ayoung-Chee seized the moment and saw it as a miracle to revamp her line sweeping through Mood like it was a last-minute holiday sale and everything was 90% off. All new fabrics, colors and designs for her line would head back to the workroom.
Branded new line
Her branded new line would walk the runway and win her the show. Giving way to her Trinidad background, she let loose and cut her way to a winning fashion line. Her line was inspired by her own style and became branded signature the minute it walked the runway.
Fellow finalist Viktor Luna was the favored winner for his designs and impeccable tailoring skills. His line included a custom-designed fabric (that was beautiful by the way), pants, coats, skirts, dresses and more. Ayoung-Chee’s line included nearly all dresses, most of which had the same plunging, sexy neckline. Hello brand! It was iconic of what she wore, where she came from and it all made beautiful, branded sense. It was a collection even if none of the fabrics matched each other. A brand was born and the judges sensed it immediately.
Sewing to small business owner
6 months ago Ayoung-Chee was learning how to sew. Now it’s time for her to learn how to be a small business owner as she’s won the highly coveted $100,000 to launch her own line. She connected with her Caribbean self and with women everywhere winning the judge’s eyes, the show, the $100,000 and a bonus $10,000 from being voted fan favorite. Best of luck to her and her future fashion line.