IN Interviews : Project Runway's Maya Luz


As an up and coming fashion designer and recent graduate, Maya Luz, is taking matters into her own hands. Adding to her long list of gigs in the works, Maya gave Infashuated a personal sit-down. We caught up with Maya and picked her brain about her inspirations. From her findings as a designer to her participation in the current season of Project Runway, Maya is living the fast-life. She has recently launched a Spring 2010 accessories collection and is looking into jewelery. Maya’s drive and dedication continues to be a force and motivator for young, aspiring designers everywhere.


Full name: Maya Luz

Where are you from? Born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, raised in Naples, Florida, went to school in Boston, living in NYC presently.

Favorite colors: Black, white, and red Favorite song: Too many to count! Probably, Your Phone's off the Hook, But You're Not, by X. Illustration style: Detailed realism with a touch of fantasy and abstraction.

Favorite candy: Heath Bar, Forensic Files, and Secret Lives of Women.

When did you first find your love for fashion? Well as my family loves to tell, my first full sentence as a baby was, "Nice shoes!" So the ground work was laid down long ago. But it wasn't until I was in high school when my mom taught me how to sew a skirt, and then I just made that skirt over and over, then began to change the design, and from then on, it just kept up and I made all my own clothes throughout high school and got quite the reputation as the outspoken D-I-Y punk girl, who was always in detention for outlandish outfits. (My school had a strict policy about torn and altered clothing a.k.a. self expression and I made sure to break every rule in the manual). At about 14, I started my little underground label, 'Unsweetened,' which consisted of altered clothing I made from vintage pieces that I transformed into fashion. I had fashion shows and trunk shows that I invited my peers to, and began to build quite a name for myself in my small town.

Where did the name Maya Luz come from? My given name is Maya Luz Molina De Araujo but I've just shortened it to Maya Luz—Maya means 'Illusion' in Greek mythology, and Luz means 'light' in Spanish, named after my grandmother, and my Puerto Rican heritage.


What is your design process when working on a new project?  I usually start an idea out in my head, then do a horrible sketch of it (which is like my dirty laundry, I don't let anyone ever see it) then I improve it [with] a finalized sketch where I work out all the details and technicalities. I love to illustrate so that is half the fun. I love to draw in pencil and colored pencil, then rework it in Photoshop and Illustrator. As far as sewing, I like to pattern draft and drape depending on the design. I usually start with a toile, but sometimes I am impatient and go right into my fabric.

Who or what is your biggest influence as a fashion designer? Well I never really had an icon that led me into fashion in particular, it was more that I started making clothes because I didn't like anything in stores, nothing ever fit right on me, I'm short and busty, and I never liked any of the styles that were out there. My high school was the richest, whitest, preppiest school in the area, and I wanted to be as far from that standard as possible, so I worked hard at creating my own identity. I was however very obsessed with the magazine NYLON, and it was a huge inspiration to me in my early years of designing. I can't stand the mag now, however. Its changed a lot and what I loved about it has now diluted into mainstream culture. Now instead of designers as role models I have icons I look to where I draw inspiration. Once people see my icons they can see where my style comes from, a little class and a little edge. I idolize the following: Louise Brooks (Pandora's Box), Tura Satana (Faster Pussy Cat Kill! Kill!), Lux Interior (The Cramps), Exene Cerevenka (X) just to name a few.

What is your favorite clothing? My leather black lace-up witch boots.

Where would you love to travel for inspiration and why? I would like to go to Barcelona, because I've traveled to many fascinating European cities, but have never been there. [And] I want to learn Spanish, because even though I am Puerto Rican, I don't speak much, and I need to learn!

After spending lots of time on your fashion, music, and DJ-ing, what would you like Maya Luz fans and customers to take away from your work? I want my work to represent strong femininity and stark individualism. I think my customer is looking for something artful, fearless and powerful.

As a designer, it is always hard to keep coming up with new inspirations and new designs. How do you continue to keep a fresh outlook on design? I always [have] an endless source of ideas, it comes naturally to me, but I do need to be a zeitgeist. I like to read, listen to music, research, watch movies, write, travel, socialize, visit museums, all that. My drive never dies, I just need to fuel it.

What's the craziest situation you've ever been in? Did this inspire any wild illustrations? When I was applying to be on Project Runway, I had to do all these psychological tests, and I started thinking about doing a collection inspired by psychology, so I did this illustration inspired by the Rorschach ink blot test.

What books and/or magazines do you read? I love to read Charles Bukowski, Valerie Solanis, and I read WWD, i-D, V, Vs., Noise, Zink, Paper, A Magazine, that sort of thing.

What's next for Maya Luz? Any future projects, goals, and wishes? With whom would you love to collaborate? I am currently working on a line of handbags, but I am also working on expanding my Fashism collection, viewable on my website. My goal right now is to get my bags out there in stores. I would also love to do some work as an illustrator. I would really like to collaborate with a jeweler to do some custom hardware for my next line of bags. I want to put together a fashion event as well. You'll be seeing more of me for sure!


-- * Special thanks to Maya Luz. Interview by James Buford and edited by Alicia Fairclough for Infashuated © 2011. No part of this content or information included therein may be reproduced, republished or redistributed without the prior consent of Infashuated.