images by christine tremoulet photography
While attending Altitude Design Summit a few weeks ago I had the fantastic opportunity to visit with Anya Ayoung-Chee, Project Runway Season 9 winner and previous Miss Trinidad and Tobago Universe 2008.
For all the flack Anya received for the “not knowing how to sew” angle on Project Runway, you cannot deny that she has a very clear voice to her designs – and that is one straight out of the islands on which she grew up. What you may not know is that she has a magnificent grace and heart to go along with that voice.
Endlessly poised and gracious, Anya was kind enough to spend a few minutes out of her busy conference appearance schedule to chat about some things not apparent on the old Wikipedia page.
OV: A quick look at your website shows you have only designed spring and summer collections – for the obvious influential reasons. Do you see yourself ever branching out into a fall or winter collection?
AAC: Yes, it’s coming. I want to make sure I service my current, very loyal customer base that has been with me even before Project Runway first, and I am known for spring-summer clothes. I will do a “light fall” collection, but thoughtfully. I will probably never do wool coats – it’s not what I am familiar with and I never wore one growing up. I want to make smart decisions about work. It’s one thing to take a risk for a television show, but not in business. That’s not for me.
OV: I’ve read that from your Project Runway winnings you are creating a philanthropic organization to support promising talent from the islands that may not have access to start-up funding. Can you share more about these plans?
AAC: Yes, and we are still planning. This is very important to me. We want to be sure everything is set up properly and that those chosen can be responsible to take care of the monies given. We are supporting all creative endeavors from design to journalism, etc. and the program will include some mentorship as well.
Of course I asked her our favorite always:never questions… A woman should:
Thanks to Anya and to HP, the wonderful sponsor who brought Anya to the conference and let me steal time with her.