This Project Runway Finalist Is Making Muslim Fashion Mainstream | AJ+

This Project Runway Finalist Is Making Muslim Fashion Mainstream | AJ+


Getting to the end of Project Runway, they start to eliminate people. [Clip]: “Auf Wiedersehen.” Margarita got eliminated,
so it’s three left: Kentaro, Me, and Brandon. Brandon is like the
sweetheart, the whole season. And so, Brandon gets eliminated. Holy crap… Are they gonna give it to me? I grew up in a very small, tight knit Muslim community in upstate New York. I’m number eight of eleven children. We were poor, so all of my
clothing was hand-me-downs from my older sisters, so I
would put my own spin on things. Cut hem lines, add
ruffles, or what have you. I actually sold my first garment
when I was ten years old. I was definitely a little
kid fashion designer. And being a quiet child, I
just found that to be a way that I could scream really, really loudly. I guess I was like, Muslim,
and so I had to get married. I was 19 when I met him,
20 when I married him, he had just gotten a new job,
and I ended up leaving school and I moved to Tennessee. I was scared, I was sad,
and I was not fulfilled because I wasn’t doing
something that I loved. I had a gift and, you know,
I wasn’t in the driver’s seat of my life and it was
really tough when I… I know it’s just sewing, but
honestly, it’s the one thing that I do that know what
the outcome will be. I’m sorry! (Ayana cries) I didn’t plan to cry, sorry! And so, my husband and I
weren’t on the same page and we eventually got divorced. I was supposed to be studying
anatomy and physiology, but I was actually watching
YouTube videos, and I came across a designer named Rabia
Z and her work was so good. I decided, actually at that
moment, that I was gonna get in the driver’s seat,
pursue my design degree, and I was gonna take control. Project Runway was the biggest emotional roller coaster of my life. One second, you’re super excited, and the next second, you’re so scared. Like, I need Tim Gunn to love
me, that’s very important. These are the people that
you want to critique you, because what they say
goes, in the fashion world. When Project Runway shared
our pictures of the cast, one comment was like, “Oh,
if she puts that symbol” “of male oppression on the
girls, then I’m not watching!” “This is not Project
Runway International,” “what is going on?” I thought to myself, like,
“that’s what they’re saying now, but when they see how well
I’ve kicked butt on the season, it’s going to shut them
all up”, and it did. The very first challenge, I
wanted it to be very, very apparent who was in the building. And just seeing her, you
know, walking down the runway, she’s wearing her hijab,
it’s trailing behind her, she’s got that Project
Runway sign behind her, moments like these are so meaningful. [Clip]: “Ayana you are the
winner of this challenge!” I learned so much during that time, you know, to step out and to just be free. Making some really outlandish things, to follow a certain guideline of dress, but at the same time, be fashion forward, and be trendy and feel
young and feel beautiful. The judges loved it. I had, you know, older
women, young women, coming up to me and saying, you know,
“Thank you, we love this!”, or “Just please keep pushing
forward, we really need this!” I was just doing me, I
was having a great time, and it just so happened
that I was a Muslim girl. [Clip]: (cheering) Fast forward to New York Fashion Week New York Fashion Week! Tim Gunn and me, watching
my work on the screen. My models are all dressed,
they look really great, and the finale hijab was
so great, it was amazing. And I was like, bawling. [Tim Gunn]: “It’s spectacular.” After coming from not
having much of anything growing up, you just never
know how far you can go. You can build, and,
like, you can make more. I didn’t win, but with being on this show, I was able to get my name
out there, so to speak. My plan, eventually, is
to be a household name. It’s scary, but I like a challenge.

100 thoughts on “This Project Runway Finalist Is Making Muslim Fashion Mainstream | AJ+”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *