Project Runway crowned its ninth winner last night, and it’s the elegant and cool Anya Ayoung-Chee. Anya was consistently in the top all season despite struggling with construction issues from time to time, and her keen sense of style pulled her through to the end. Here are five facts about this designer:
1. Anya is Trinidadian but of Chinese heritage. She was born in New York City and moved to Trinidad when she was two years old.
2. Anya’s 30 years old. She grew up the only daughter in a family of eight — yikes.
3. She’s a beauty pageant winner! Anya won Miss Trinidad and Tabago in 2008 and was a contestant in that year’s Miss Universe pageant. She’s also a classically trained ballet dancer.
4. Anya only learned to sew a few months before Project Runway began. She studied graphic and interior design at schools in New York and London before decided to pursue a career in fashion.
5. Anya decision to enter both the beauty pageants and do Project Runway because she was searching for strong female roles. She explains:
“We had just finished the panel with several very strong women and it struck me that they were all very modern women and that in the Caribbean, this is not to make a huge generalization, but generally there are very few female roles that are powerful and stand out in the public eye … The prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago is a woman, but she’s the first who ever has been in office. My point was that I was searching for a way … to have a voice and also still be me. So I did Miss Trinidad and Tobago and Miss Universe as my sort of grasping for that and that didn’t really work out so well. I didn’t enjoy being objectified in that way. But then Project Runway has given me, in a strange way, a role. I’ve become somewhat of a role model in my own community and it’s been amazing.”