Anya: Designers must step up as mentors

‘Project Runway’ winner urges support for local fashion, as Kim Boodram reports in Trinidad’s Express.  

PROJECT Runway winner Anya Ayoung Chee yesterday called on other local designers and artists to step up as mentors as she prepares to create a micro-fund for those aspiring in the arts.

Ayoung Chee arrived on Friday from New York, USA, for two days, and was scheduled to sit as a judge at the Elite Model Look competition, at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) hotel on the Port of Spain Waterfront last night.

The former Miss Trinidad and Tobago held a news conference at the Carlton Savannah hotel in St Ann’s yesterday to personally thank her countrymen for their support while she appeared on season nine of the US-based reality series Project Runway.

“I am calling on others to be mentors,” Ayoung Chee said, having previously thanked the local business community and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for their support.

“I am also appealing to the private sector and the State to support it.”

The local industry needs more back- and front-end support, she said, and while she has always wanted her clothes to bear a “Made in Trinidad” label, this country simply does not have the manufacturing capacity to keep up with certain demands.

Ayoung Chee also disclosed she will be producing a section in a well-known Carnival band next year, and being a “Carnival baby” herself, she will also be playing in the section.

Ayoung Chee said she didn’t realise the extent of the support being sent her way by fellow Trinidadians, and the Caribbean, until Trinidadian model Angel Ross, who appeared late in the series, told her about it.

Ross had replaced one of the models assigned to competitor Viktor Luna.

“She told me, ‘Anya, the whole Caribbean is behind you,'” Ayoung-Chee recalled, fighting back tears.

“I had no idea. I didn’t think anybody was paying attention.”

Joined yesterday by some members of her family—mother Michelle Jodhan and brothers Yves, Ben and Wil, Ayoung Chee delivered a brief history of her journey to Project Runway, and after describing a period in which her early love for fashion had cooled, Ayoung Chee said she believes her win to be along a path that was aligned.

Now, despite nearly a year at a hectic, unforgiving pace, Ayoung Chee, who returns to New York tomorrow, has no intention to take a break.

“I feel the time is now to work,” she said, adding she hopes to hit the runway at next year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week with a fall/winter collection.

Though she declined to name names, Ayoung-Chee said one famous actress has already received one of her dresses, and another is pursuing her.

Ayoung Chee’s next scheduled local runway show is set to take place at Tobago Fashion Week in May.

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