Maya Luz shocked her fellow designers on “Project Runway” when she withdrew from the competition on Thursday night’s (April 2) episode.
The 22-year-old designer from Santa Fe, New Mexico bowed out shortly after the challenge, designing a red carpet gown for host Heidi Klum, was announced.
At the time, Luz had said she didn’t feel she was ready for Bryant Park. Her exit allowed previously eliminated contestant Anthony L. Williams to return.
Zap2it spoke with Luz on a conference call Friday to get more info on her decision, the reaction to her leaving and her life post-“Runway.”
Before launching into that, let’s check out what she had to say in her video diary:
The interview with Maya Luz …
Did your decision to leave have anything to do with the challenge, designing a red carpet dress for Heidi Klum?
MAYA LUZ: No, not particularly … It happened to have landed on that challenge. It had nothing to do with that challenge. I think I could have designed for her. But I think every designer works with a client with a similar design aesthetic. I see my work maybe on other people, not particularly on Heidi.
If you didn’t feel ready for Bryant Park, why did you do this Haiti fashion benefit recently?
MAYA LUZ: The benefit happened a couple months ago, and the taping [for “Project Runway”] almost a year ago. I’m working on another collection which I’ll show in June, but I have exclusivity. The audience there [at the Haiti benefit] wasn’t important buyers. The point of that benefit show was to raise money to go to the Red Cross. My decision to leave was really because it really wasn’t my time yet. I wanted to [show my work], but not in a naive way.
MAYA LUZ: At the time, I had just graduated from school, and I’ve gotten more experience since then. Since I left the show I went to London, worked at Fashion Week, worked with a really amazing designer there. I’ve done a lot since the show ended.
Did you talk to any of the other designers before making this decision?
MAYA LUZ: No, I didn’t speak to anyone about it because I didn’t
really want it to be something of question. I didn’t want it to be a
discussion. I knew what I wanted to do and I did it. I did talk to Tim
before I went into the workroom. It was really good to talk to him
because he said, “I understand what you’re saying. I think that’s very
humble and mature of you.” So that really gave me that boost in the
workroom and say what I needed to say because it did take a lot of guts
and it wasn’t easy at all. Because they were all my friends and I was
leaving them. I felt especially sad for Mila because she’s the last
girl left. She was definitely my good friend. I could tell in her
interviews, she literally was shocked. I could hear it in her voice. My
heart went out to her.
Were the reactions we saw on TV the same as what happened on set?
MAYA LUZ: That was pretty much it. I got to see what they said on TV when I was gone. It was really what it was. There was not a lot of time to explain myself to them, so I’m sure everybody was wondering. It wasn’t really explained enough by me. I’m glad that Seth Aaron had my back. And I think Emilio, well, that was Emilio. (laughs)
What’s been the funniest reaction to your exit?
MAYA LUZ: The funniest was [during the episode] last night when Heidi said I left because it was too much stress for me. I don’t think she has any idea, sitting and watching the show — and not to knock her since it’s her show. It was not too much stress. It wasn’t about stress or quitting. It was my personal decision and maturity.
What about the judges’ comments that you’re too referential? Many designers are.
MAYA LUZ: You can say that about any designer. Where do you draw
the line? Emilio’s print was a reference. You’ll see that said on a lot
of blogs, and I agree. On past seasons as well. You take the comment
with a grain of salt. Those are only three pairs of eyes, very
subjective. I think everyone is referential in some way. That’s style.
You had reservations about being on TV before the show?
MAYA LUZ: I had my reservations about being on TV in general and also about how the competition is affected and the talent. We’re all talented, but it’s a show … I think I would have appreciated the whole process even more if it wasn’t affected by ratings.
How did you push past your reservations then to go on the show?
MAYA LUZ: I pushed past them because this was an opportunity. I was one of 16 out of entire nation. In this economic downfall, you need any edge you can get. I was excited. I wanted to win. I was screaming when I found out [I made it]. It was a huge honor, a huge opportunity. My decision to leave literally did not come until the night before I did it. So that whole time [before] I was really trying to win, really trying to do my best. In the end it just wasn’t right for me. I think reality TV just wasn’t the right format for me to showcase who I am.
How do you feel about your exit allowing Anthony to return?
MAYA LUZ: As the rules go, so to speak, the last person to have left will be brought back. I don’t really ever remember hearing that rule. It’s convenient that he was the last person to have left because he certainly is the star and makes everybody laugh, so I think it refueled my feeling about the whole man behind the curtain TV aspect of it, which I would have liked it more if it wasn’t that way.
Were you offered a slot at fashion week?
MAYA LUZ: I basically told them I didn’t want to do it. I think it would have been a little hypocritical to say I wasn’t ready and then go do a collection. I told them I wasn’t ready to that yet. So, no.
Was it weird after you attended Fashion Week that everybody knew you didn’t get to the end? That it was a spoiler?
MAYA LUZ: When I was there and in the audience, I think people started to notice. Obviously pictures came out and stuff. They could tell. But I had to be there. I wanted to be there, so that’s just the way it was.
Are you still in contact with any of the “Project Runway” designers?
MAYA LUZ: Yes, I texted a few of them yesterday [when the
episode aired] to say, “Here goes nothing.” That was funny. Jonathan [who was eliminated on the same episode]
was like, “Yeah, you and me both, girl.” I still talk to Jonathan. I
saw him a few weeks ago because we’re preparing to do this show
together for StyleWeek Providence. I talk to Mila, I still talk to Amy,
I still talk to Chrisitane.
Has anybody famous approached you for designs?
MAYA LUZ: I just had a piece worn by Tyra Banks a few weeks ago.
Apparently it was supposed to be in People, for her website and for
some other press, which is really great. Also I’ve had a couple pieces
in magazines and I got my work into a really amazing showroom in New
York called L’armoire du Styliste. It’s run by a really great stylist
who loves my work and is really well connected. That’s how I got this
Tyra thing. She’s gotten my pieces in a couple different magazines and
I’ve doing a couple pieces for Numero magazine that’s coming up styled
by Patti Wilson, which is really amazing. I’ve been doing a lot since
Do you regret going on the show in the first place or would you do it again, given the chance?
MAYA LUZ: I don’t regret going on the show because I think it
really taught me a lot about myself. That’s only something I could have
done through doing this. I think I had a crash course in life lessons
at an early age, which is amazing for the kind of career I’m going
into. It taught me a lot about myself, a lot about fashion and about
the industry in general. I still think I have a ways to go. I would
have gone on in the first place, but it’s something I’d like to do
again in the future, given the time and experience if I’m given the
opportunity to go on the show again in a couple years once I’ve gotten
some work and time under my belt.