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MTSU design alumna Ayana Ife wins Italian fashion ...

MTSU design alumna Ayana Ife wins Italian fashion scholarship

promo of MTSU design alumna and Project Runway runner-up Ayana Ife and the logos of the Milano Fashion Institute, where she’s working on her graduate degree, and MTSU’s Textiles, Merchandising and Design Program

MTSU Apparel Design Program alumna and “Project Runway” runner-up Ayana Ife will spend 13 months advancing her skills in one of the world’s top cities for fashion.

Ayana Ife, MTSU design alumna and Project Runway runner-up, January 2019

Ayana Ife

Ife is using a coveted scholarship and money raised via a GoFundMe account to pursue a master’s degree at the Milano Fashion Institute in Milan, Italy.

“This is a great opportunity to study in one of the great fashion capitals of the world,” said the Salt Lake City, Utah, native.

The couture designer earned national attention when she won second place on the Season 16 competition of “Project Runway” on the Lifetime network.

Milano Fashion Institute logoShe specializes in clothing that covers most of the body with style and color without being dowdy or bulky.

“I want to create a space for modest fashion, a really prevalent space in the fashion industry,” Ife said.

Ife graduated magna cum laude from MTSU in May 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in textiles, merchandising and design with a focus on apparel design. She applied for a scholarship to MFI in 2017 but put her aspirations on hold for a year when “Project Runway” contacted her.

Last December, Ife learned that the institute would pay half of her tuition. Within a month of opening an online account, donors contributed another $10,000 that paid for her flight to Italy plus room and board for a year. She’s still working to raise another $5,000 to cover additional living expenses like bus fares and food.

Ife will be working toward a master’s degree in business administration specific to the fashion industry at MFI, a school created in 2007 by a consortium of three different Italian universities.

She said she hopes to learn more about the business side of her craft while furthering her line of fashion for women who choose to dress modestly for religious or personal reasons.

“The option should be there,” Ife said. “There’s no one way to be sexy. There’s no one way to be beautiful.”

Some of Ife’s stylish outfits include head coverings, making them practical and beautiful for women whose religions encourage covering the head as well as women who simply enjoy wearing scarves. She is the second Muslim woman to compete on “Project Runway” and the first to make it to the finals.

Ife and her TV competitors designed clothing for models ranging in size from 0 to 22, challenging them to create fashions for a variety of body shapes.

For more information about MTSU’s Textiles, Merchandising and Design Program in the Department of Human Sciences, go to www.mtsu.edu/programs/apparel-design.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

MTSU design alumna and Project Runway runner-up Ayana Ife poses at the Milan Cathedral in Milan, Italy, in this Jan. 21 from her Instagram account. She’s in Milan to begin graduate study at the Milano Fashion Institute. (Photo courtesy of Ayana Ife)

MTSU design alumna and Project Runway runner-up Ayana Ife poses at the Milan Cathedral in Milan, Italy, in this Jan. 21 from her Instagram account. She’s in Milan to begin graduate study at the Milano Fashion Institute. (Photo courtesy of Ayana Ife)

“Project Runway” host Tim Gunn discusses fashion with MTSU alumna Ayana Ife, a contestant on Season 16 of the reality television program, in this 2017 photo. Ife, who earned plenty of acclaim for her designs, finished as the runner-up. (Photo courtesy of Barbara Nitke/Lifetime)

“Project Runway” host Tim Gunn discusses fashion with MTSU alumna Ayana Ife, a contestant on Season 16 of the reality television program, in this 2017 photo. Ife, who earned plenty of acclaim for her designs, finished as the runner-up. (Photo courtesy of Barbara Nitke/Lifetime)

A Project Runway model wears MTSU alumna Ayana Ife's design on the Aug. 24, 2017, episode of the Lifetime network show. Contestants were required to create fashions from recycled materials, and Ife used newspaper, fabric scraps, vinyl fringe and bottle-cap buttons for her gown. (Photo courtesy of Barbara Nitke/Lifetime)

A Project Runway model wears MTSU alumna Ayana Ife’s design on the Aug. 24, 2017, episode of the Lifetime network show. Contestants were required to create fashions from recycled materials, and Ife used newspaper, fabric scraps, vinyl fringe and bottle-cap buttons for her gown. (Photo courtesy of Barbara Nitke/Lifetime)


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