An MTSU graduate is unveiling her creations to a nationwide audience as one of this season’s participants on “Project Runway.”
The 16th season of the fashion program debuted Aug. 17 on the Lifetime television network, and 27-year-old Ayana Ife has so far been among the most highly acclaimed of the 16 contestants.
Her shimmering silver gown was a talked-about highlight of the season premiere, and during the Aug. 24 episode, when contestants created fashions from recycled materials, Ife won top honors for her newspaper-fabric dress with vinyl fringe and bottle-cap buttons. It’ll be featured in an upcoming issue of Marie-Claire magazine.
The Salt Lake City, Utah, native graduated magna cum laude from MTSU with a bachelor’s degree in textiles, merchandising and design in May 2015. Her focus was apparel design.
“Ayana was a wonderful student during her time at MTSU,” said Dr. Rick Cottle, an assistant professor of textiles, merchandising and design. “Students and faculty both recognized her talent, work ethic and integrity.”
Ife’s website, www.ayanaife.com, shows photos of various fashions that cover the entire body. Some of the outfits include head coverings, making them practical and beautiful for women whose religions encourage headdresses as well as women who enjoy wearing scarves.
“While using contemporary design elements, we resolve the number one concern of our modest sisters, which is unnecessary layering of clothing and sizing up to cover specific body parts,” the website states.
“By taking this problem-solving approach, we aim to keep our sisters feeling fashion-forward, influential, fearless and elegant.”
The “Project Runway” website, www.mylifetime.com/shows/project-runway, notes that Ife applied four times and auditioned twice in hopes of being selected for the program.
“She has a sincere energy and drive to meet her goal as an effective and creative designer of modest clothing,” said Dr. Lauren Rudd, an assistant professor of textiles, merchandising and design at MTSU.
For the first time in its history, Project Runway is including models ranging from sizes 0 to 22, which is challenging the contestants to make chic, fashionable clothing for people of all sizes.
Rudd said Ife’s designs are uniquely well-suited to that challenge.
“Her clothing is always wearable and functional, with an edge of creativity and style which speaks to a wide variety of women,” Rudd said of Ife’s work.
For more information about MTSU’s Textiles, Merchandising and Design Program, go to www.mtsu.edu/programs/apparel-design.
— Gina K. Logue (firstname.lastname@example.org)