The next generation of big-name designers are cultivated on each season of Project Runway, the long-running fashion design competition show on Lifetime. And on Nov. 5, designer Ashley Nell Tipton followed in the footsteps of her predecessors, as she was declared the winner of the show’s 14th season. But there is something extra special about Tipton’s win.
According to Bustle, Tipton is the first designer to win the American series of Project Runway with a plus-size collection. Her “colorful, daring and feminine” collection was presented at New York Fashion Week anonymously as part of the show’s finale, featuring “plenty of skin-baring peek-a-boo cutouts” done in lace and pastels.
The 24-year-old designer mostly designed mainstream-sized clothing for the duration of the competition, but knew she had to go out on a limb for the finale. “I never thought I would make it this far, but it was always in the back of my head that this is what I want to do,” she told People. “To be able to showcase there is just an incredible feeling. It’s just so amazing to have everyone see my work.”
And the judges certainly seemed to think that her work was incredible. Bustle says that the judges praised her collection for “‘bringing something new’ to the plus size market, playing with silhouettes [that] have been considered taboo on women of size,” while also complimenting the “chic and imaginative flower tiaras that she accessorized her models with.”
Bustle spoke to the newly-crowned winner, who said she has been busy building a website and forming a creative design team ever since she won, although it’s been difficult to keep her victory a secret for almost a month. Tipton, previously an indie designer who had a self-produced line prior to her recent win, told Bustle that this win has overwhelmingly kickstarted her career. “Once people hear what I’ve been working on, I think it’s just going to explode. I definitely feel a lot of doors are opening up right now,” she said.
Explaining that she is working on her “dream project,” Tipton said she hopes to create “an online plus size destination that ‘includes everyone,'” while also planning to unveil unisex, men’s and even non-plus collections.
Her victory wasn’t just a personal win — it’s shaping up to be a win for the entire fashion industry and consumers alike. Thank you, Ashley Tipton, for creating fashion for all, and congratulations on your Project Runway win!