Sewing Is Optional: Anya Wins Project Runway

Project Runway isn’t typically seen as a show that a relative beginner can win, but don’t tell that to Anya Ayoung-Chee. The onetime Trinidadian beauty queen, whose sewing skills are so rudimentary that she went a whole season without so much as making a sleeve (and she only made pants when a challenge forced her to), is the newly crowned Season 9 champion following the traditional Fashion Week finale.

Anya was a judges’ favorite all season, but even they seemed to worry about whether it would be fair to name her champion given the lack of diversity in her final collection – all flowing dresses with plunging necklines and a Caribbean vibe. And there also seemed to be some concern about her tendency to procrastinate, only to finish in a mad rush of creativity (an issue that nearly got her eliminated last week). In the end, they chose to go with star power, since Anya will make a wonderful spokeswoman for her brand at the very least – she’s the only winner of the show who can be remotely described as glamorous.

The new champion is a rarity among Project Runway contestants in that she already had a measure of fame prior to doing the show. She represented Trinidad and Tobago in the Miss Universe pageant three years ago, and had some unwanted attention when a sex tape she made with her ex got released (thanks to that gift that keeps on giving called the Internet, this could follow her longer than winning Project Runway).

Joshua McKinley was the somewhat surprising runner-up, after a season of snarky putdowns and judges complaining about his “taste level.” His final collection featured one model in Neoprene and another who wore neon green shorts, but it won raves nonetheless.