Ayana Ife stood as a runner up on Thursday night’s finals of the American reality fashion design series Project Runway, where the winner was announced at New York Fashion Week. If the show had a second place winner she would be it.
The 28-year-old designer of Trinidadian parentage was a faddish contestant on the show’s 16th season being adored by the media, not only because of her Caribbean roots but specifically because of her Islamic identity that shone through her design work which underscored fashion with modesty.
Ife’s success has once again placed T&T on the world map noting the twin island republic as a gold mine for creatives, at least when it comes to fashion and design sector.
Her forerunner Anya Ayoung-Chee would have set the pace and made clear definition of this when she took the winning title in season nine, keeping it all Caribbean.
But not only is Ife’s success in reaching the finals a proud moment for T&T. It is so much more a milestone for the Islamic community as she has officially pioneered being the first Islamic woman to make it to the finals and stand as a runner up on the famous reality television brand. In the past, the show saw one other Islamic hopeful who did not make it to the finals.
In a previous interview, she noted she did not go into the competition expecting the headlines to focus on the fact that she was a Muslim. Subsequently, in the same interview she is quoted as saying “I do know the importance of representation and thinking back to when I was younger, I would have been happy to see someone like me doing positive things so I decided I would step into this light and own it. I think it is very positive.”
Read more about Ayana Ife in Monday’s Guardian.