The Real Housewives of Dubai: 9 things to know about the new housewife Chanel Ayan


Chanel Ayan is the newest sensation in The Real Housewives franchise after the latest release of The Real Housewives of Dubai. Better known on the show as “Ayan,” she has hit the ground running with iconic one-liners and epic ensembles that have outdone the other Housewives. Based on her introduction alone, there’s been no other Housewife quite like Ayan.  

Even though Ayan is new to the franchise and Bravo fans’ TVs, viewers can’t get enough of her and are looking forward to what she can bring to the show. Hailing from Kenya, there’s a lot more to Ayan than meets the eye. 

Ayan Competed For Miss Kenya

As one of the most followed Housewives on Instagram, it’s no secret that Ayan is a fashionista who loves a good quote as her caption. Her stunning features make it obvious why she is Dubai’s first Black supermodel. 

RELATED: Where To Find The Cast Of The Real Housewives Of Dubai On Social Media

As a child growing up in Kenya, her beautiful looks took her to the beauty pageant market. While talking candidly to Women’s Wear Daily, Ayan noted that she competed for Miss Kenya as a teen. However, the website noted that she didn’t win because she was allegedly kicked out. As Ayan said, “My style is as big as my personality — outrageous. I bring drama with my fashion.”

She’s Lived In Dubai For 18 Years

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by A Y A N (@chanelayan)

Ayan has lived an incredible life thus far and some of her best years happened when she moved to Dubai. While she started her modeling career at the age of 18, she eventually moved to Dubai with her husband. 

Nowadays, she’s lived in Dubai for the past 18 years. Ayan told Bravo, “I was approached by a guy saying, ‘Hey, you can be a model.’ I started doing all the magazines, traveling around, getting to know people.” From there, she’s landed huge brands to walk and model for, including big-time magazines.

Who’s Her Husband?

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Nabila Merchant (@nabilamerchantmakeup)

There are a few romantic tropes The Real Housewives fans are hoping Dubai doesn’t entertain (like intimate bedroom scenes), but it doesn’t look like Ayan and her husband Chris are going to be victims of this because she doesn’t even share images of her husband on her social media pages.

According to Meaww, the couple met as teens in Brazil, with Chris hailing from America. On the show, Ayan told the cameras that he liked the way she danced and the two became inseparable. The couple left Brazil for the States where they lived for some time before moving to Dubai, which is where they now call home. While Ayan works in modeling, Chris is said to work in the entertainment sector and has created a successful life for themselves. 

Her Business Empire

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by AYAN Beauty by Toni Malt (@ayanbeautybytonimalt)

As if being a supermodel, mother, and Housewife wasn’t impressive enough, Ayan also has a successful business. She has her own makeup brand that she has with her makeup artist called Ayan Beauty by Toni Malt. Ayan also focuses on skin with her own skincare care. 

RELATED: The 12 Most Successful Housewife Businesses, Ranked

Knowing how important modeling is to her and what it could mean to others, Ayan also has her own talent agency, according to Mashable. In a recent episode of RHODubai, viewers saw Ayan and fellow Housewife Lesa Milan looking for plus-size models for a brand that used Ayan’s talent agency, according to Yahoo!

Their Son Is Following In Her Footsteps

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by A Y A N (@chanelayan)

In the first episode of RHODubai, Ayan was shown on a modeling shoot in the desert. While getting her hair and makeup done, her 14-year-old son, TJ, was there with her keeping her occupied. Adorably, the two played a hand game that Ayan played while growing up in Kenya and she told the cameras that TJ was her best friend. Thanks to the pair’s great bond, it looks like TJ has followed in his mother’s footsteps and has started modeling. 

On Instagram, Ayan has shown images of her son on the runway, along with a snap of him on the pages of Vogue. Although is new to the Real Housewives circle, he’s on track to being a Housewives kid that fans love.

She’s Worked With High-End Brands

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by A Y A N (@chanelayan)

As a supermodel, Ayan has worked with some reputable and high-end brands. While Housewives fans have seen Ayan modeling on the show, she has more of her resume on Instagram. She’s modeled for brands like Givenchy, Valentino, and Christian Dior, to name a few.

As far as publications are concerned, she’s been on the covers and pages of magazines like Vogue, Xpedition, Cosmopolitan, and Ellements. As of late, Ayan has also been asked to be the official head of runway and casting for Miss Universe UAE. 

Ayan Modeled For Lesa’s Brand

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by MINA ROE (@minaroe)

Lesa Milan is another Housewife in the Dubai franchise and is personal friends with Ayan outside of the show. Lesa explained that when she was pregnant, she realized that there weren’t great maternity options for stylish women. She created her luxury fashion brand for expecting mamas called Mina Roe to make up for what wasn’t an option when she was pregnant.

RELATED: 10 Real Housewives Who Were Models Before Joining Bravo

After meeting Ayan years prior, Lesa asked her to be in her fashion campaigns for Mina Roe, which she still does today. She even has Ayan modeling her post-natal outfits as well, proving how close of friends the two are. Ayan is a Housewife who was modeling before the show and it seems like she’ll continue far after the show as well.

Ayan Almost married Her Cousin

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by C H A N E L (@chanelayan)

In a recent episode of RHODubai, Ayan and Chris took a nightly stroll where they talked about the ups and downs of their 23-year marriage.

Since she grew up in Kenya, Ayan never expected to meet someone like Chris, let alone marry him. She then told the harrowing tale of the pressure she faced to marry her cousin based on her family’s culture. Ayan noted that her mom wasn’t thrilled when she married a White man from America, but the two were meant to be. According to the Nigerian Tribune, Ayan said, “I’m married and I’m very proud of that because it was my first love and the only person I have ever been with.” Ayan’s on her way to becoming one of the most loved Housewives.

The Inspiration For Her New Identity

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by A Y A N (@chanelayan)

In an interview with Vanguard, Ayan explained that her real name was not Chanel Ayan, it’s actually Pillott Ayan. While Ayan means “lucky” in Somalin, Ayan took inspiration from another popular fashion brand when her career was taking off: Coco Chanel.

She told the outlet the smart move she made in altering her name, “My name is not really Chanel, my name is Ayan. I changed it to Chanel for like the last 15 years.” She continued saying, “I picked Chanel because I watched the movie about the true story of [Coco] Chanel and felt I connected with her in different aspects like how her father lived in the same town and she didn’t know he was there, she was raised in an orphanage and how her father moved on, married other people, raised other children and she completely forgot about them. Her story kind of resonated with me, that’s why I call myself Chanel.”