Why Did Maya Luz Quit Project Runway? She Explains It to Movieline


Last night's episode of Project Runway featured a jarring triad of events: an elimination, the return of an evicted contestant, and a baffling exit from 22-year-old Santa Fe designer Maya Luz. The young, über-banged talent claimed she wasn't ready for Bryant Park's big stage, and opted to leave the competition prior to beginning this week's challenge. Now that she's had time to mull over the ramifications of her exit, Movieline caught up with Maya to discuss her reasons for leaving, her ambitions, and unfair criticisms from the judges.

You said that you left because you said you had more to learn, that it was "your time." Did the challenge itself have anything to do with your decision?

The Heidi Klum challenge? No, not particularly. I mean, it was a culmination of things. I certainly think that I could've designed a dress for Heidi Klum. It wasn't something I didn't think I could do, or it was going to be too difficult. It was kind of about that time when it just kind of hit me that that's what I need to do. It just happened to have landed on that challenge. It wasn't specifically about that challenge, although in a way -- although I do feel I could've designed for her -- I think that every designer has certain people that wear their clothes becuase they share a similar aesthetic. I don't see Heidi in particular as somebody who would want to wear my style of clothing, if that makes any sense. Not that I couldn't design something for her and maintain my intention as a designer, but I see my work on other people, I don't particulary see it on Heidi. But it didn't have any fuel in my decision. It was something I had decided beforehand.

You didn't show at Bryant Park, but you did show a small collection at a Haiti benefit show recently. Can you talk about the decision to skip Fashion Week and do a smaller show?

The benefit happened just a couple months ago. I had no idea about that during the filming. The filming was almost a year ago now. The benefit was something I was asked to do. I went to school in Boston, and a friend of mine that graduated the year before me is from Haiti, and he started the scene in Boston, the Boston Fashion Exposé. He asked me to take part in this show. I'm working on another collection right now, which I'm going to show in June. I have exclusivity with that collection, so I couldn't show it before the show in June. I had to show pieces from my portfolio, older works that I've done before. That's why I showed that. The audience there wasn't, you know, important buyers or anything. The point of that benefit show was to get ticket sales to go to the American Red Cross to go to the Haiti benefit. Of course I'd love to show at Bryant Park, but my decision to leave was really because I didn't feel like it was my time yet. I have a lot to learn about this industry before I go out and show at Bryant Park. I didn't want to do it in a naive way, and that's really what it comes down to.

You were worried you'd make the wrong first impression as a young designer.

Yeah. Absolutely. That's pretty much it. At the time I'd just graduated from school, and even now, I feel like I've gained a lot of knowledge since then. Since I left the show, I went to London, I worked at fashion week, worked with a really amazing designer there, I met really great people, hung around some students from Central Saint Martins [College of Art], and I really loved the scene over there. I really want to get back to London. I'm also working on my handbag line on the side, too, and then this new collection, so I've done a lot since the show ended. It wasn't the end of me, certainly, but I'm trying to look for a job in the field. I want to work for other designers. I want to maybe get my master's. Just gain more experience, because when you're coming up with a collection, it needs to be totally representative of what I am. I just wasn't feeling like I was really ready to do it yet, but I still stand by my decision. I've grown a lot as a person since then. I still stand behind what I decided I should do.

Nina Garcia called you "referential" several times. Does that seem unfair when compared to Nina's all-time favorite Christian Siriano, who's a bit referential himself?

Yeah. It's like, where do you draw the line, you know? You could really say that about anybody, about any designer. By this point, it's the year 2010, everything's been done now. You could say that about Emilio's print. I've seen it on a lot of blogs. I've heard a lot of people saying -- and I agree -- that Louis Vuitton did the same thing. That day, they didn't notice that, but they happened to notice something in me. They've said it on past seasons as well. You have to take it with a grain of salt, because it's only three pairs of eyes, and there's lots of people in the world that may not see that either. It's very subjective. I definitely take it with a grain of salt, and everyone's referential in some way. That's style, that's fashion, that's trend, you know?

Your friendship with Mila seemed pretty profound. Can you talk about how you two connected?

It's funny, one of the first things she said to me was, "You remind of me of myself when I was your age." And I said, "You remind me of myself when I'm going to be your age." I think we had kind of a lot of things in common. She said I was an old soul. It's funny, I was half her age. We just kind of clicked and got along really well. It was really good to have her around, and I think that was one of the hardest parts of making the decision to leave. I was really leaving her, and I think we had a kinship with each other. So that was one of the hardest things, definitely.

Other eliminated Runway designers sound off to Movieline:

· Anthony Williams (who's back on the show)

· Amy Sarabi

· Ben Chmura

· Jesse Lenoir

· Janeane Marie Ceccanti

· Anna Lynett

· Jesus Estrada

· Ping Wu

· Pamela Ptak

· Christiane King


  • Jason says:

    SPOILER ALERT! Jeez, dicks. I know you're probably psyched to have the inside scoop right away, but couldn't you have found a way to write the headline without blowing the entire surprise for those of us who haven't watched our DVRs yet?

  • Kyle Buchanan says:

    I can sympathize, but in the age of Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds and the like, it's hard to lobby for a spoiler embargo the day after a show airs.

  • Louis Virtel says:

    Almost forgot to promote my 30-minute set at "Jeez, Dicks!" on the Strip.

  • Colander says:

    Is that where Cheeze Dicks used to be?

  • Dourdan says:

    "You were worried you’d make the wrong first impression as a young designer. / Yeah. Absolutely."
    Yeah, except now I'll always remember you as "that girl who quit Project Runway." Let us know how that works out for you!

  • Omg, Lady Gaga was awarded 8 VMA awards on Sunday. I am definitely happy for her success and I love that Born This Way piece GaGa sung too!

  • Lili says:

    Loser Maya!