For the finale of Project Runway Junior, Mankato teen Hawwaa Ibrahim will sew to the finish. After watching her narrowly escape elimination last week, we’ll see tonight whether the 17-year-old DIY connoisseur can power through to win it all.
Ibrahim she takes it all in stride.
Though she’s done filming the series, Ibrahim can’t reveal what happens in tonight’s episode. But the whole experience has been really exciting. “It’s been a roller coaster of emotions,” she says.
After watching the first season, it was Ibrahim’s mom who first encouraged her to apply to be on the show. The teen had already become a YouTube sensation with her how-to videos.
“I was homeschooled a couple years ago, and I had nothing to do besides not doing my homework. So I would watch a whole bunch of YouTube videos, and that got me into the whole design crafting thing,” she says.
For her audition video for Project Runway Junior, Ibrahim, who was 16 at the time, wore electric-blue lipstick, a pastel plaid shirt, glittery silver eyeshadow, a minty green faux-fur jacket, and an earth-toned hijab. That affinity for bright colors and bold statements, and being unafraid to celebrate her identity, has shown throughout her appearances on the show.
“I’m honored that they picked me,” she says. “The whole experience was fun. It was stressful at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Ibrahim likes being over the top, even while growing up in a small, perhaps less flashy, city like Mankato. But she stays true to herself no matter what. “Find your own style,” she says. “It’s no big deal.”
Ibrahim’s influences include Jeremy Scott, who, like Ibrahim, favors “crazy colors and designs,” as well as Melanie Martinez and Maria Diamandis. “They are doing their own thing. I like the whole ‘be who you want to be’ philosophy,” she says.
Since landing on the show, she’s had to get used to the high visibility that comes with fame. While most people are supportive, she’s had to deal with some mean comments as well. “It’s been kind of tough because, especially with social media, you are judged immediately. There are harsh comments or these ideas of what someone like me should be acting or dressing like.”
Ibrahim says she just learns to ignore the negative, because everybody has an opinion. “As long as you think you are doing something right, it really doesn’t matter.”
Eventually, Ibrahim wants to be a professional fashion designer and open her own store. “I want people to be wearing my clothes.” She’s already been part of a fashion show in New York with several other contestants from Project Runway, and she’ll be a part of Spring Fashion Week MN. Meanwhile, she’s already got people asking her to design clothes for them.
For now, the young fashion designer is trying to focus on school, hanging out with her friends, and continuing her passion for creating striking clothing.
Watch the big finale Thursday, February 16 (tonight!) at 8 p.m. on Lifetime. Check out some of her looks from the show below.
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