ON SAFARI: Designer Anya Ayoung Chee exits her chauffeured vehicle while overlooking "The Twelve Apostles" in Cape Town, South Africa, recently. —Photos courtesy anyaayoungchee.com

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Anya takes 'Carnival' fashion to the world

'No marriage plans in busy schedule'

By Nigel Telesford

Project Runway Season 9 winner Anya Ayoung Chee has taken Trinidad and Tobago's Carnival to the major cities of the world as she showcased her 2013 Spring/Summer Collection titled, "Carnival of Colour", at Fashion Week events held in New York, London and, most recently, South Africa.

Ayoung Chee continues to expand on her passion for fashion and also for philanthropy, revealing recently that she is currently working on projects in Barbados and Trinidad, as well as a new product that will benefit the youths of Gonzales.

"I've been working on a store project in Barbados, which is linked to a manufacturing facility that I'm developing here in Trinidad. The idea really is that the factory will eventually be something that young designers can use to build their own lines and produce their own collections. It's a long-term project, but first I have to make sure that it works and it sews and the standard is good, which is a challenging endeavour.

"I've been working on a great product with a company called Able Made," she revealed. "They are a shopping destination for products that give back to a worthy cause, so, of course, with the TallMan Foundation being my chosen charity, the product's proceeds will go back to them.

"It's an international shopping destination that's doing really really well and has lots of other incredible brands associated with it—so I'm really excited about that," Ayoung Chee said.

Since winning the reality television fashion competition series, Project Runway Season 9 in October 2011, Ayoung Chee has made her debut as an official designer of international repute. The young designer also shared some of her discoveries and experiences, as well as plans for her designer brand.  

"It's been an amazing year. I went from New York, to London, Barbados, Los Angeles, back to Trinidad somewhere in between and then to South Africa. I showed my collection at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Johannesburg and then I spent some time in Cape Town looking at the boutiques and showing the collection to buyers there and just trying to take the brand more international and thinking about markets outside of the US

"My strategy now is that I feel the brand really works well in warmer weather climates and more colourful, vibrant environments because that's where I'm from and so I really liked showing in Johannesburg."

"The collection was so well-received there and it just felt so authentic and it just fit. It proved the point that I had figured out over the last few months...you know this is the first collection that I've done since winning Project Runway, so it was interesting to see the difference in the feedback in different cities. I really have my eyes set on other emerging cities like Rio, Sao Paulo, Melbourne, Dubai and Mumbai and I really think that's where the line will do extremely well and then of course, all the resort towns and the different islands," Ayoung Chee said.

With Trinidad Carnival fast approaching, Ayoung Chee is also focused on her two major projects for the season."I wish I could, but I haven't been able to visit Tobago in awhile," she confessed.

"There's no sign of vacation in sight. Right now, I'm working on my fete and thank God the planning for the section (in Tribe) dies down around now until it's time for the costumes to come out, then I'll get involved with that again. The fete will be at the same venue as of now and on the same day—Carnival Saturday," she said.

As for her lovelife, which also blossomed this year as she became engaged to longtime companion, Wyatt Gallery, Ayoung Chee said the media will have to wait quite some time for pictures of her wedding gown.

"I don't think there'll be a wedding in 2012," she said, with a giggle. "Well, at least not mine anyway. I think we're hanging on and waiting for things to settle down 'cause there's too much happening at the moment. Too much work to do!"

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