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.
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.
“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.
— Gina K. Logue (firstname.lastname@example.org)