The Tom & Lorenzo Archives: 2006 -2011

T Lo Interviews Maya

Secrets of the Maya revealed!

Well kittens, there was just no way we weren't going straight to the designer's mouth to get the scoop on this one. Enjoy.

Let’s just start by saying that we were so disappointed that you didn’t show at Bryant Park. Do you regret your decision?

No, I don’t regret it at all. I think regret is an emotion that is really kind of a waste of time and it doesn’t resolve anything, it’s not progressive. I still stand by my decision, it was a year ago almost at this point, but I would’ve done the same thing had it been today because that’s really I believe what was right for me and that’s really what I was feeling at the time.

I think that I made the right decision and I think that it shows my character and my integrity. It might be confusing to some people, they won’t really understand unless I can explain it in a way that people can get. It’s kind of hard to say it in five words or less, that’s why I’m glad I’m having these opportunities to really talk about it because it isn’t just a single reason, it’s a combination of things.

Can you try to explain it a little to us?
Basically, it’s a combination of things. As the weeks were going by I started to realize that I had a lot to learn and to grow. I came to this competition to grow and I felt that I was doing that. I was always in the top or safe, but never in the bottom, which made me the most consistent designer of this season, but I still never won a challenge, so I was kind of in this between zone. I just really got to thinking, ‘What is it that I’m missing?’, ‘What is it that I need?’ I really just decided that I have a ways to go and I also think that reality TV wasn’t the right circuit for me.

I think it was hard to see who I am as a person. They didn’t show a lot of footage of me because I was always kind of quiet. A lot of times in the workroom, I was so focused on what I was doing, it wasn’t really my time to talk. I think some of the other designers were better at that. I don’t think it was the right format to show who I am and I decided that day that it wasn’t right for me anymore.

And of course, I would love to show at Bryant Park, but it wasn’t the right format for me, I decided that I had places to go, things to learn. As a person, as a designer, I think I do have a strong point of view and I think that was shown during the show and I'm really happy with how I was portrayed, it’s definitely true to me and how it ended it was totally me as well. I’m very individualistic. As Anthony said, “Don’t let that face fool you, when she wants something done, she will let you know.”

Now, not showing at Bryant Park, was that a producers’ decision or your decision?
That was my decision, I told them…because everyone from Janine on showed, so I would’ve been there, but I decided it wasn’t my time yet. At the time I wasn’t ready, now I’m working on things. This was almost a year ago, I was literally one month out of school, I had never worked for another designer before, since then I’ve gone to London, I worked at Fashion Week in London, I met all these amazing designers there, I'm working on my handbag line now as well as another line that’s coming out in June, I’ve done a lot.

What exactly happened in the workroom? We only see you leaving the room and back with Tim to announce that you were leaving. How did it play out?
Well, the night before, I stayed awake in bed thinking about all this, and you know, people have been asking me, “Was it because you didn’t win the print challenge? Was that it?” and I say, “no,” it wasn’t just one thing, but there were certainly subconsciously different things that added to it. I mean really? I didn’t think Emilio’s print was the best. You can say that my print wasn’t that original either, kind of a digital, linear print, but still, in terms of originality, I just don’t think it was there.

I started to feel that it was very subjective and you have to remember that, it’s only these three judges, there’s a world of people out there that have all different opinions about my work and somebody else’s work. You have to distance yourself from that, but at the same time when you’re there, it’s so much different and that’s why I’m so glad Seth Aaron made that point last night, “Don’t judge her, you’re not there and you don’t know what it’s like.”

Were you upset at Emilio’s reaction when he said it was a cop-out?
No, I wasn’t because honestly, he never was a very warm and fuzzy character and that’s kind of his nature, he was always in it to win it as we all were, but when you are inexperienced you need the human relationship and everybody else nurtured that, but he never really did because that’s how he is. He has his moments, he has his tender sides and they came out sometimes, but he was always a die-hard contestant, so I wasn’t surprised that he said that.

It was kind of unsettling and I hoped that he had more respect for me, but at this point I feel like I look like a more mature person than he was and he’s forty-something.

It takes balls to just leave the way you did, especially when you’re so close to Bryant Park.
It does and it wasn’t an easy decision. I can’t say that I’m disappointed with the way it came out because that’s really like it happened, but I’d hoped that they would’ve shown more of me talking about my reasons, it was very short and I was just gone. I’m not dead. I’m still here [laughs]. For all the people that don’t see or read those interviews, they’re just going to see the show and I think it’s going to be confusing to them. I hope people get to hear my story because that’s reality, that’s really what happened.

No secrets?
No, no secrets, nobody convinced me to leave or I didn’t get paid to leave or anything. That is what happened.

Nina’s comment calling your work “referential,” did that affect you in any way?
I think subconsciously it did on some level, just like everything else did. To be honest, everybody’s work is referential and to say because I did a bias ruffle that it is Nina Ricci, it’s just absurd. I respect Nina’s opinion a lot, but you could say that about anybody. You could say that Emilio’s print was like Louis Vuitton and they never mentioned that being referential. You could literally say that about every designer on the show as well as about any designer in existence because it’s the year 2010, what has not been done at this point? Art and design in general is really about recycling old ideas and making them new. To say that I am referential, fine, I’ll take it. I think I have a strong point of view and I think people recognize that and I hope people saw who I was a designer and that’s why I did this. I went on to show my talent, who I am and I came out in the end as strong as I was in the beginning.

Tim said on his blog that he thinks you were terrified that you would move forward to New York Fashion as one of the finalists. Is that true?
I think there was some level of that. You know how you can predict the end of a movie? I kind of felt that I could predict what was going to happen. I felt that they were not going to let me win challenges. I could be the dark horse and come out in Bryan Park in the end, maybe with Mila, you know, the young vs. the older, you can kind of predict that, and that is the reason that fueled me even more to go with my decision because I knew that I would probably end up going there.

Of course, we’ll never know, but I have a good feeling that I would have and that’s the reason why I decided to leave. If I thought I was going to get kicked off, I probably would’ve just stayed and got kicked off. I had a feeling that I was going to go to Bryan Park and that’s when I realized I wasn’t ready yet. I was only 21, even now, I’m only a year older; I feel the world is different than I did then.

You and Mila were very close. We even called you guys the Bang Sisters. How was your relationship with Mila?
It was great. She was my roommate. From what I heard from other people, she doesn’t seem that friendly on TV, she’s actually really cool. One of the first things she said to me while I was unpacking my suitcases was, “You remind me of myself when I was your age.” And I said to her, “Well, you remind me of myself when I’m your age” [laughs]. We had similar taste, she’s much more graphic, I’m much more textural, but I really can see that, it was really cool to meet her and have her there.

That was one of the hardest things for me when I was leaving because I didn’t talk to her about it at all, and she said she could tell something was up with me and Monique said the same thing, that I was sort of distracted during the print challenge, having a block, because I was thinking about all these things.

Last night you said you were having a hard time performing on command. It’s definitely one skill you need to survive on this show.
That’s one of the amazing things about Seth Aaron, as soon as he got the challenge he immediately had it, the hair, the makeup, and that’s something that I particularly found that I was not good at. I’m much more whimsical, when I get a project, I go to my studio, I research, I like to go to the library, I like to listen to music, to sketch, and it’s a longer, drawn out process, and of course, I get it, that’s what the challenge is.

But it’s important to point out that just because you can’t do that it doesn’t mean that you aren’t talented.
And the fact is that I did do it. I stayed on until the top six. I made it every time, so it’s not that I can’t do it, it just wasn’t the right format for me anymore. Had I gone to Bryant Park, I would’ve had the facility, the time…it wasn’t like I was going to make the collection in one day or anything. There still would be cameras around, Lifetime owns everything that you have made, it’s not yours. I really wanted it to be my own. It wasn’t the head space that I needed for my creativity.

It was something that I kind of knew before I got into the show, because I think a lot of people are going to ask me, “Well, then, why did you do it in the first place?” I never could’ve known what it was going to be like, watching it on TV and being there are two very different things. It’s something that I had to learn through the process. Of course I got chosen, sixteen out of an entire nation of people, of course I’m going to take that opportunity. So during the process I learned some things about it that just wasn’t feeling right and I did what I had to do.

We thought your print was the best and it’s funny because you went on and on about how it wasn’t your thing and yet you did a great job. Is that something you see incorporating in your career? Developing prints?
Thank you. I never tend to lean towards prints because I like a lot of texture and sculpture in my clothing and sometimes prints can conflict that. I used to be more into prints when I first started designing and then I got into this monochromatic thing. Tim said, “Don’t tell the judges you don’t do print.” Because they will be like, “See ya.” And I understood that and I rose past that. I pushed myself because I knew I wasn’t attracted to prints, but I tried to make it still me and I add my textural, sculptural element. It was a two-day challenge and on the first day I didn’t even know what I was doing and on the second day I pulled it together because Tim told me to “Maya-ize” it.

So, what are your plans for the future? Your bags are very popular, every time we featured them our readers rave about them.
I’m definitely trying to get those out there. I just got an order for a couple different bags from a boutique called The Orange Hanger in Massachusetts, near where I went to school. I’m also doing personal orders just by word of mouth; also a boutique in NY is interested in the bags, which is in Soho and a boutique in London run by a friend of mine. I’m also working on a 25-piece collection for StyleWeek Providence, which is in June, and I hope you all and anyone can attend. It’ll be the chance for the people who wanted to see what I can do finally do so. I’m also applying to my Master’s in London. I’m also looking for full-time employment at the same time.

I really want to gain more experience in this industry. I’ve done a lot of research and most design businesses and young designers end up failing within the first year, they want be in Barney’s and “look at me, I’m so great” and I’m not that way. I really want to take the time to learn and work for another designer. I think it’s so important to work in the industry for at least five years because it’s a business and at the end of the day you have to sell. That’s one thing I really respected about Seth Aaron. On his pieces always go for the most because they’re so marketable and that’s a skill you have to learn. Designing isn’t just about making pretty things, it’s a business.

Well, we think you’re very talented and we can’t wait to see more of you. Thank you, Maya.
Thank you guys so much.

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