Everyone Wins

Recap of episode 12 of Project Runway: Under the Gunn

As this recap series concludes with this installment and designer Anya Ayoung-Chee fades from the limelight, because there isn’t a year-round appetite for homegrown celebrity in the islands, I wanted to journal about a few events that unfolded while producing this recap of Project Runway: Under The Gunn.

During my visit to Trinidad Carnival, a business executive asked me: “How does Anya feel about your column?”  I crossed paths with the Project Runway winner twice before receiving his question.  So I replied: She hasn’t said anything.  I bit my tongue to be diplomatic with an influential exec.  Actually, I think Anya, who knows it’s better to have tongues wagging than silent if you yearn to be on TV, recognize brilliance in the recap series I conceptualized and got published by two daily newspapers in her hometown.


Above: Design by Asha Daniels for the Marvel superhero challenge. Below: Design by Shan Oliver Keith on Team Anya. Bottom: Design by Sam Donovan on Team Mondo. Photos: Under The Gunn/Lifetime TV

But some in Anya’s circle weren’t tickled by how I weaved insider facts, observations, and a variety of real perceptions.  In their mind, the media exists to produce pretty press releases, criticize politicians, and unfavorable sentiments about Anya’s performance as a designer or mentor should remain under a rug.  I flipped that script, but by the sixth column I had hit a nerve that wanted the series sugar-coated.

During that same Carnival visit I was startled, at dinner at Buzu Restaurant, at a performance at Queen’s Hall, and in the VIP lounge at Carnival fetes, I was approached by socialites, local celebs and upmarket citizens who told me they look out for the column: “because it’s so cheeky” and “the writing is so entertaining.”  Many didn’t know Anya was on a TV show till they encountered this recap series.  An editor wrote: “It’s a breath of fresh air for the Guardian.

Twenty-four hours after the Guardian published my sixth submission, which was edited by the paper’s editor-in-chief, I received an email from same editor that read, in part: “You also need to be more generous with your remarks about Anya in the series.  While criticism may be warranted, it must not be relentless.”  This same editor handled my copy on Friday and approved the article to publish on Sunday, without a single delShan12_UnderTheGunnetion.  Her revelation on Monday suggests her office received a call from someone west of St Vincent Street, that persuaded the top editor to suggest I board her censor ship.    I swiftly repositioned this TV show recap series with another daily paper without skipping the seventh installment.

This was a creative writing exercise that came to me as I watched the show’s first episode.  I have been invited to write a column for a daily newspaper.

The premise of this reality TV show asked twelve unknown designers: Who do you want to be and how can we help you get to where you want to be? Three Project Runway alumni with varying degrees of industry recognition took on the task to grow their mentoring skills, while they each groom four ambitious fashion designers.

The final design challenge required the remaining four designers to create a garment inspired by a Marvel comic book superhero. “You are not creating costumes, you are to be inspired,” stressed Tim Gunn. Oscar took top honors for his sleek cloak that covered a complex and incomplete looking pant suit.

Previously we affirmed that Oscar and Shan Keith Oliver are sure shots for the finale.  And I stated that designers Asha Daniels, who tended to “put a lot on heSam12_UnderTheGunnr plate,” to ace a challenge and Sam Donovan, who survived but failed to push the envelope, deserve to be grand finalists, too.  Mr. Gunn and his squad of sharp-tongued judges cast Asha and Sam, both from Team Mondo, in the grand finale.

If emerging designers took tight notes from the mentors on Under The Gunn, they should be familiar with these parting soundbites on what it takes to make it work: Trust yourself, trust your voice, articulate your point of view, take risks, deliver wow factor, and please don’t get in your own way.

Peace out.



Recently published, in part.

[ 404.654.0859  |  SEANDRAKESPHOTO@gmail.com ]

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