Lifetime’s “Project Runway” has named former beauty queen Anya Ayoung-Chee as the ninth winner of the show Thursday, after Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
The Trinidadian and Toboggan beauty proved her fashion taste, training, and talent on the show. People magazine reported that Ayoung-Chee has already received requests for designs from celebrities.
The designer was rewarded $100,000 upon winning, but had to keep the victory a secret until the episode aired Thursday.
Speaking to People, Ayoung-Chee said, “I finally feel like I can enjoy it now that I can tell everybody.”
The 30-year-old remained a favorite on the show throughout the season, and added, “It’s really overwhelming. I came from not expecting to go past the casting because of my sewing skills… it’s just the most unbelievable story, and I’m just along for the ride.”
Fellow contestant Josh McKinley took the loss hard, and criticized the champion of learning how to sew just months before appearing on the show.
“I thought it was unnecessary at times, but I never took it personally,” Ayoung-Chee explained of McKinley’s accusations.
She added, “He and I are very good friends, and I think I really get him. Sometimes he says things that he may not mean, for no other reason than that he was hurt himself.”
While shopping at Mood Fabrics in New York City, the contestants were bestowed an additional $500 from mentor Tim Gunn so they could enhance their final collections.
“It was absolutely integral,” Ayoung-Chee said of the extra money. “I don’t know what would’ve happened if we didn’t get to go to Mood. I realized that was a huge blessing at that moment.”
The new designer is in the process of creating an online retail site in time for the holidays – and it will help those in need.
“I will start a microfinance loan with the fan favorite money to support young, creative, people in the Caribbean,” Ayoung-Chee said of the $10,000 granted to her upon winning the “fan favorite” award.
Ayoung-Chee also earned a spread in Marie Claire as well as a $50,000 technology suite and the opportunity to design and sell on Piperlime.com.
“Project Runway” will return to Lifetime bringing back favorite contestants of the past for a season of “All Stars” in 2012.