This week we speak to Jamaican fashion designer and entrepreneur Ayanna Dixon. From a very young age Ayanna has maintained an avid interest in the fashion industry. The aspiring designer and entrepreneur began her career as a fashion model, signed to Pulse Model Management, the largest modeling agency in the Caribbean. She shone on the runway, gracing the catwalk for Caribbean Fashion Week alongside top fashion models from around the world. Although she enjoyed a successful run as a Pulse model, she soon left to pursue her real passion, fashion design. Her mother, a trained textile designer and her father, a successful architect, design naturally runs through Ayanna’s veins. After training both at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts and the Art Institute of New York, Ayanna was poised to make her mark in the design world. Before returning to Jamaica to start her line, she lived and worked in New York where she gained internships at Monique Leshman, Donna Karan International and Marchesa. With this valuable experience under her belt, Ayanna returned to Jamaica, inspired by the wealth of creativity and potential for growth in the local fashion industry. Ready and determined to change the face of Jamaican fashion, her line ASD was born. Since starting the company Ayanna has placed second in Jamaica’s first reality television Fashion Designing contest, Mission Catwalk, in which she placed 1st runner up. In 2011 she had her first fashion week showing on the international stage at Miami Beach International Fashion Week. Most recently the designer showed at The Collection Moda 2013 along side local and International designers. Her collection E. 23 was well received and she was the first recipient of the First Global Banks Fashion Grant.
How did you get started in modeling? How were you discovered?
I do recall always being interested in modeling and being a Ms Jamaica (thanks to Lisa Hanna), I was interested as well as people would always comment about how long my legs were and how slim I was so family and friends encouraged me. When I was 16, mum set up a meeting with Kingsley Cooper and myself to discuss me becoming a model and that’s kind of how I got started. I later did the training did Caribbean Model Search and became a Pulse model.
Tell us the meaning of your first name?
My Dad selected my names Ayanna is an Ethiopian name which means “Beautiful flower” and Sade (my middle name) was inspired by the singer, and that means “Honour confers a crown”
What inspired you to create ASD and is the name your initials?
Yes ASD is my intials Ayanna Sade Dixon.
How many lines of clothing do you currently have under the label?
I have 2: Ayanna Dixon for ASD and ASD.
When did you first fall in love with fashion?
I think I’ve always been in love with fashion…I can recall sewing dolly clothes on one of those little toy sewing machines as a child and going to the fabric store with my Aunty Mary and choosing fabric for dresses and then going to the dress maker and selecting a style out of one of those Simplicity/McCalls?Vogue Pattern books…lol Pique fabric used to be my favourite.
In your bio information you mentioned you were a pulse model. Do you still model?
Now that Im a fashion designer Im trying to stay more focused on that goal, I do enjoy being in front of the camera when I get the chance but I don’t model for other designers nor have I modeled for my own brand; but from time to time photographers will contact me for special projects.
How would you describe your own personal style?
My personal style is just like the clothes I design, its vibrant, sophisticated, sexy, comfortable..I love to wear things that express how I feel …or how id like to feel, and the woman I design for is the same.
Describe your fashion mission?
Take over the world!! Lol….
“Fashion is an extension of someone’s personality. It should have an impact on a person’s mood and feelings and allow them to feel empowered, sophisticated, confident and sexy. As such, as a fashion designer I have to design clothes that empower and is an expression of my target market.” – AYANNA DIXON
Which designers do you love right now?
Ive always loveddddddd Donna Karan, since interning there ive always loved the simpicity, sophistication and effortless sex appeal and elegance of her clothing. I also love Bottega Veneta, Cushnie et Ochs, and House of Sukeina.
What item of clothing (if any) do you wish that more of us wore?
I would love if Jamaicans layered more; I know we’re a tropical island and layering can be hot but layering adds so much dimension to an outfit scarves blazers, sweaters, vests etc
Any plans to start a male line?
No not anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean never.
Anything we should look out for from you in the coming weeks/months/year?
Well its the Christmas season so I have listed all the events that I have confirmed to date:
Financially Sexy – Dec 4th – (See ASD facebook page for details)
Conversation Piece- Dec 7th-8th – Spanish Court Hotel ( Pop up shop)
A phrase you use far too often?
“I’m hungry” and “I have sewing to do”
What food brings your comfort when you are disappointed?
I love chocolate, so chocolate cake, ice cream….or fries and big extra cheese burger
Fashion tip for the season?
My fashion tip would be try something new, I think very often people get stuck in their comfort zone for example I grew up disliking lipsticks and now Im becoming obsessed with wearing lipsticks of all colours.
In a nutshell, your philosophy is?
Fashion is an extension of someone’s personality. It should have an impact on a person’s mood and feelings and allow them to feel empowered, sophisticated, confident and sexy.
Thanks for the interview. We wish you a successful future.