This Project Runway Finalist Is Making Muslim Fashion Mainstream | AJ+

Getting to the end of Project Runway, they start to eliminate people. [Clip]: “Auf Wiedersehen.” Margarita got eliminated,
so it’s three left: Kentaro, Me, and Brandon. Brandon is like the
sweetheart, the whole season. And so, Brandon gets eliminated. Holy crap… Are they gonna give it to me? I grew up in a very small, tight knit Muslim community in upstate New York. I’m number eight of eleven children. We were poor, so all of my
clothing was hand-me-downs from my older sisters, so I
would put my own spin on things. Cut hem lines, add
ruffles, or what have you. I actually sold my first garment
when I was ten years old. I was definitely a little
kid fashion designer. And being a quiet child, I
just found that to be a way that I could scream really, really loudly. I guess I was like, Muslim,
and so I had to get married. I was 19 when I met him,
20 when I married him, he had just gotten a new job,
and I ended up leaving school and I moved to Tennessee. I was scared, I was sad,
and I was not fulfilled because I wasn’t doing
something that I loved. I had a gift and, you know,
I wasn’t in the driver’s seat of my life and it was
really tough when I… I know it’s just sewing, but
honestly, it’s the one thing that I do that know what
the outcome will be. I’m sorry! (Ayana cries) I didn’t plan to cry, sorry! And so, my husband and I
weren’t on the same page and we eventually got divorced. I was supposed to be studying
anatomy and physiology, but I was actually watching
YouTube videos, and I came across a designer named Rabia
Z and her work was so good. I decided, actually at that
moment, that I was gonna get in the driver’s seat,
pursue my design degree, and I was gonna take control. Project Runway was the biggest emotional roller coaster of my life. One second, you’re super excited, and the next second, you’re so scared. Like, I need Tim Gunn to love
me, that’s very important. These are the people that
you want to critique you, because what they say
goes, in the fashion world. When Project Runway shared
our pictures of the cast, one comment was like, “Oh,
if she puts that symbol” “of male oppression on the
girls, then I’m not watching!” “This is not Project
Runway International,” “what is going on?” I thought to myself, like,
“that’s what they’re saying now, but when they see how well
I’ve kicked butt on the season, it’s going to shut them
all up”, and it did. The very first challenge, I
wanted it to be very, very apparent who was in the building. And just seeing her, you
know, walking down the runway, she’s wearing her hijab,
it’s trailing behind her, she’s got that Project
Runway sign behind her, moments like these are so meaningful. [Clip]: “Ayana you are the
winner of this challenge!” I learned so much during that time, you know, to step out and to just be free. Making some really outlandish things, to follow a certain guideline of dress, but at the same time, be fashion forward, and be trendy and feel
young and feel beautiful. The judges loved it. I had, you know, older
women, young women, coming up to me and saying, you know,
“Thank you, we love this!”, or “Just please keep pushing
forward, we really need this!” I was just doing me, I
was having a great time, and it just so happened
that I was a Muslim girl. [Clip]: (cheering) Fast forward to New York Fashion Week New York Fashion Week! Tim Gunn and me, watching
my work on the screen. My models are all dressed,
they look really great, and the finale hijab was
so great, it was amazing. And I was like, bawling. [Tim Gunn]: “It’s spectacular.” After coming from not
having much of anything growing up, you just never
know how far you can go. You can build, and,
like, you can make more. I didn’t win, but with being on this show, I was able to get my name
out there, so to speak. My plan, eventually, is
to be a household name. It’s scary, but I like a challenge.


  1. This girl is talented with a big heart and a beautiful story but Hijab is still a symbol of male oppression to women, no matter how you dress it. It turns women into a sex object that needs to be covered, in my country they say an unveiled woman is like an unwrapped candy that will attract flies, where the flies are the men. Hijab is the other side of skimpy bikinis, total objectification of a human being.

  2. Isn't hijab for woman is covering all skin except face and hand using loose fabric? (I'm not talk about color).

  3. Liked this video? You might wanna watch Lena Khan's story, she was the first Hijabi Director in Hollywood, and in her debut film "The Tiger Hunter," she snagged '"Community" legend Danny Pudi as lead actor! –>

  4. Maybe a hijab was ONCE a symbol of misogyny, but now I think it is a symbol of feminism and freedom of expression and religion and of people want to scream at anyone for wearing a hijab then they are just as bad as the people that forced women for not wearing them in the beginning

  5. Why  should wearing Hijab or covering oneself would be considered women oppression , while wearing nothing or skimpy clothes considered women liberation .  That would make pimp shows ,  srippers  etc the most empowered women in the world  .   But is this the case ?

  6. Wait did she just say “I guess I’m Muslim I had to get married?” No ma’am u get married not because of ur religion. You got married when u were not ready that’s why it ended in divorce. Don’t blame it to religion for something u were not happy with.

  7. 0:56 oh man, ayana i liked you on project runway but this line "I was muslim so i had to get married" man with this line you lost me
    I am a muslim and i can confirm that's not how it works. There's not such a thing as muslim women have to get married.

    Her family may have forced her to that marriage but in the religion it's not a rule or anything.

  8. I honestly don’t understand this early and forced marriage in some cultures. This practice violates the God-given human rights of all, particularly women and children, as well as the sanctity of marriage in Islam. Because the most solemn form of covenant in Islam, means that the free and considered consent of both potential spouses is required for marriage. The cultural elements must not be confused with the religious elements.

  9. I discovered this series and I'm watching all of these while crying at all of them. Such an awesome series.

  10. Alhamdullilah. Mashallah. I’m so proud of this Muslim Sister.🕊🌹🌺👌🏻

  11. The sounds of ignorance can be drowned by the loudness of love and acceptance, you are a beautiful human being, fly, spread your wings and fly, as high and as far as you wish.

  12. I personally like her fashion. Peoples problem and the mean comments are not because of hijab itself. On its own can be a good fashion statement. Women in the west also wore a scarf on their heads as a fashion peace covering their hair. The problem is Islam. I am someone who grew in Muslim community and I fully support everyone I know who left Islam. Like this girl every single Muslim I knew grew up in tight Muslim community here in Europe so they believed that you can get engaged as soon as you get your period. Half of my classmates got a religious marriage before 18. Islam is a life ruiner. I studied at a professional design high school and so did my muslim friends but of course after they got married they lost their freedom because they are women. Instead of pursuing design like Ayana they never had the chance to even think about it. They got pregnant one got cheated on even. At 17 she had a child was cheated on and had to have the courage to leave him still that guy ruined her life. Islam is the problem not the hijab. I personally love modest dressing minus the headscarf because they make my head look big. What Ayana does not see is that the people who left mean comments, in the beginning, are not against her but islam for non-muslim its a sign of not being equal to men it;s not modesty. Technically you are something less and you agree to it. It's not empowering. You can be empowered in a bathing suit and in a formal suit covered up. Saying that less clothes and showing skin makes you not modest is stupid. That logic is the reasons why muslim men have trouble keeping their hands to themselves

  13. I was obsessed with project runway when I was younger, and though there wasn’t as much variety even 7 years ago, I’m so happy children can now grow up and be inspired by seeing themselves represented in the fashion industry.

  14. Did anyone else take note of that "Ayana stands for women's oppression, Emily Pankhurst will be turning in her grave" comment? I don't think they should be preaching about women's rights when they don't even know what Pankhurst's name was.

  15. Ayana I hope you get to see this comment one day! Bless your heart and I’m so proud of you representing your culture like that! You are an inspiration to women everywhere Muslim or otherwise.
    The Hindu Girl

  16. You are amazing you just inspiring me .. you are just beautiful thing in this life .. love you 💕

  17. Love the clothes. I’m from Puerto Rico and it’s a pain to find clothes that don’t show that much skin

  18. What she's wearing is not hijab not trying to hate she can dress however she wants but that's not hijab, hijab is when you cover every part of your body with very loose clothes except the face and the hands the neck and ears need to be covered too

  19. I am a non religious women who didn't always dress modest and who now does. I appreciate beautiful clothes that look fashion forward.

  20. oppression shouldn't be promoted. most of these clothing originated to oppress women, many middle eastern countries had overcome this in the 20th century until radical revolutionaries began taking power again.

  21. WTF…she do Islam so wrong. To me, I don't see her as Muslim practice. I see her as a woman that just grew up Muslim cause her makeup and hijab..women have to look humble. To me cultural identity but not someone that practices. I grew up catholic but I don't practice even though I identify with it. I like how she wears her hijab cause it looks nothing like a hijab lol

  22. How can you not call hijab a symbol of female oppression. People in religion want to say it's their freedom of religion but it predates Islam and is definitely meant to subjugate women. Call a spade a spade. Men don't have to wear it. It started with the Assyrians long before Islam came to be. So you can't claim it's just freedom of choice.

  23. Even tho i don't support any denomination that belittles women she is an exception for me . She earned what she has

  24. I am actually getting teary eyed, this is such a Beautiful story and i am so proud of her.she is such a amazing soul and i wish her all the success and health and happieness in her future inshallah ♡♡♡

  25. You are a true inspiration to all the young Muslim girls out there! And a real representation.
    #yougogirl can’t wait to wear your clothes! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  26. What i could say here.. its not about relegion not because your family not because about your culture that make you succeed but it is how you work hard for it!!! Okay! love from muslim here. This is what actually my islam teacher told me

  27. I want to be muslim really love their modesty I have muslim boyfriend wish could get married to him inshallah

  28. she actually gets creative and is actually good at making a statement.. I'm so tired of watching this show being filled with boring outfits

  29. I absolutely 100% love her style. I'm not even Muslim. But it was time to see something DIFFERENT and that's exactly Ayana! It is wonderful to see options like this in fashion. I don't want to label it as "conservative" because I don't see it that way. It's just fantastic, fabulous fashion!


  31. More beautyful if you release thing in your nose 😊

    Im sory if my word not good enought
    My english so bad 😔

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