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Saturday 20 January 2018

Tears of joy… Anya wins Project Runway

Local designer Anya Ayoung Chee wiped away tears of joy and waved a small Trini flag as her family and friends spoke to her via Skype on Thursday night after she was named winner of the ninth season of the Emmy-award winning Project Runway.

At a live viewing party of the much anticipated finale on the rooftop of the Carlton Savannah, Cascade, it was standing room only as faithful fans gathered to view the hour and a half show on the projector screen.

There was much shouting and cheering when, during the commercial breaks, Ayoung Chee appeared onscreen to chat with her family and supporters.

She was expected to be at the live viewing but fans who gathered at the Carlton Savannah, discovered, much to their surprise, that Ayoung-Chee had returned to New York. It was then rumours began rippling through the grapevine that she had won the finale — spreading from the Carlton’s rooftop gathering to those seated around televisions sets — via mobile phones, of course.

As the winner of this season’s show, Ayoung-Chee won US$100,000 from L’Oreal Paris, a fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine, a technology suite worth US$50,000 from HP and Intel, and the opportunity to design and sell a collection on Piperlime.com.

Ayoung Chee also won US$10,000 for being voted Fan Favourite — a prize based on persons voting on twitter. She received 52 percent (62,5050) of the votes.

At the Carlton Savannah, it was with bated breath the gathering waited for the announcement of the decision by Project Runaway’s executive producer Heidi Klum —she called Ayoung-Chee’s name, the rooftop was still — and then came the word the single word — “Congratulations”.

The Carlton Savannah crowd was on its feet, screaming with joy.

Fans rushed to embrace Ayoung Chee’s family members and congratulate them. Champagne corks popped and Ayoung Chee’s brothers, Rohan and Ben, joyously sprayed the bubbly around.

As her family tried to get Ayoung Chee on Skype again, many fans, armed with the good news of her win, hustled out the hotel, anxious now to get home before the 11 pm curfew.

When, finally, the family was able to connect with Ayoung Chee again on Skype, she was seen wiping away tears. Her remaining fans cheered as her family spoke with her.

Ayoung Chee’s mother, Michele Jodhan, said since her daughter was a little girl she has been making them proud.

“She has brought intelligence to a field that people believe is for non-intelligent people.

She sheds a light, because of her background, on areas that people often dismiss. This is the heart and soul of our culture, the arts, and yet we deny it to try to be something we are not,” said Jodhan.

Her father, Dr Wilson Ayoung Chee, said he was very honoured that his daughter has done so well in a field that she is new to.

“It shows that whatever you love and enjoy doing, do the best in that field...” he said.

Also congratulating Ayoung Chee was Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who on her Facebook page said: “Congratulations to Anya, yet another citizen has done us proud and is flying the red, white and black flag of Trinidad and Tobago.”

To all those who remained on the rooftop, Ayoung Chee said, “Aren’t you amazed at how well I can keep a secret?”

She then advised those lingering around, savouring her success to head home.

“I can’t afford to pay your bail, go home,” she said.

She said she had won the Fan Favourite prize as well, and announced she would be giving half the winnings to Anthony Ryan, a friend and competitor on the show, for his charity rock one movement, to raise money for cancer research. (See Page 1B)


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