Pandemonium erupted on the rooftop of the Carlton Savannah Hotel on Thursday night, as fans, family and supporters of Project Runway Finalist, Anya Ayoung Chee reacted to her victory following the final “Viewing Party”. Communicating with the assembly via Skype during commercial breaks, Ayoung Chee maintained her code of silence and did not reveal the final result ahead of schedule. She said:
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be with y’all to watch it, but I had to come back to New York. Right now, I’m up in this Penthouse place with a gorgeous view of the city and I have to keep running up and down the stairs to talk to you-all in between the segments. How are y’all feeling? Do you think you know who’s won it? (suggestive laugh)”
As the show progressed, the air on the rooftop became ripe with speculation until the suspense was almost tangible enough to be eaten. Those looking for clues to the riddle took notice of her brother Yves’ jubilant demeanor and expressed it as a sign of a positive outcome. Eyebrows raised suspiciously when the young man stashed three bottles of champagne behind the bar “for later”.
Radio Host, Sophie Wight speaks to Anya via Skype as her brother Yves pops champagne in celebration of her victory on Project Runway
Bailey’s Irish Cream and TAO Sushi supplied some early treats for the success-hungry masses, but nothing edible could quench their desire to see their chosen hero triumph overall.
“I just want her to win this thing already,” said Radio Host and Avid Twitter Supporter, Sophie Wight. “There’s no way she can come this far and not win – I forbid it! The people of T&T forbid it!”
The 200-plus crowd giggled, sighed, shrieked and screamed along with every appearance of the official “Fan Favourite”, even as the show’s producers kept everyone guessing who the winner would be until the very last minute.
The clocks were heading toward 10.30 pm when Show Host, Heidi Klum narrowed the field down to just two designers – including Anya. Still, many patrons opted to leave in order to get home before the curfew and among those who remained a hum of expectation began to grow. Finally, the crowd exploded in celebration after it was announced.
“Raise the curfew, they have to raise the curfew, let’s have ah Anya holiday!” said her brother, Yves as he shared his champagne with friends and brothers, Ben, Rohan and Will. “Anya – you’re a boss!”
Both of Ayoung-Chee’s parents were present and the family embraced emotionally in celebration of the official announcement.
Family and friends react to the news of Anya's triumph
“Anya, we’re all so proud of you and the entire nation is proud of you,” said her mother, Michele, as cameras flashed to capture their joy.
“Anya, do you remember when you first wanted to go to Art school and I was very sceptical about it?” her father, Dr Wilson Ayoung-Chee reminded her via Skype. “My wife was the one who came with wisdom and told me ‘you have to let the children do what they love to do’. This is really evidence of just letting you follow your dream and regardless of what, just giving you love and support 100%... and now you’re fulfilling your potential.”
Anya's mother Michele Ayoung-Chee introduces Anya's last minute sewing instructor, Tobago-born, Delia Alleyne to the gathering at the final Viewing Party, held on the rooftop of the Carlton Savannah Hotel
The 30-year-old former Ms Universe delegate said she intends to use her winnings to produce, market and establish her brand in the industry, but will share her Fan Favourite prize of US$10,000 with her closest rival for the title, ousted designer, Anthony Ryan.
“I have had my line for awhile now, but this will enable me to fund it in terms of manufacturing, marketing and being able to break into the US market – it’s pretty much all going to go toward that. As for the Fan Favourite money, I decided to give half of it to Anthony Ryan’s Rock One Movement because I figure we were so close coming all the time that it was kind of like a tie. Not officially because the beautiful people of Trinidad and Tobago really won it, but I think it was so great for us to have won the title that the money can be shared because we both have great causes...”
For her efforts, Ayoung-Chee has earned $100,000 from L'Oreal Paris to start her own line, a fashion spread in Marie Claire, a $50,000 technology suite by HP and Intel and the opportunity to design and sell a collection on Piperlime.com.
Anya also pocketed $10,000 after being declared the Fan Favourite designer from votes cast on Twitter as well as an additional $10,000 sum and other showcase opportunities for winning previous challenges during the season.