Atlanta's Kudzanai Karidza on his time on 'Project Runway'

This was posted Saturday, September 2, 2017 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

In the 16th season of "Project Runway," Atlanta's Kudzanai Karidza early departure this past week is a sign how competitive this group of designers are. Nearly every one hit the mark on the runway show, exposing the few that didn't.

During a challenge that focused on an animated dance film called "Leap!" Kudzanai attempted to pay homage to his West Indian and African roots with a carnival-inspired outfit packed with color and feathers.

He also added elements of a hip-hop hoodie. "I really want to get the judge's attention," he said on the show as he was designing the dress. He did - just not in a good way.

"I feel like you got a little too inspired by a children's movie," said judge and host Heidi Klum, "because it looks very juvenile and not very flattering. It looks like a pinata exploded in the back." She called it "too bizarre."

Judge Zac Posen got the vibrancy and appreciated the ambition but felt the "balance and construction was a mess."

"You embellished it too much, it's taking away," said fellow judge Nina Garcia. "It's too, too, too much." She later added that he had a lot of ideas - "scary ideas."

He was in the bottom two with Deyonte Weather. Deyonte's dress was a hot mess, plain ugly top to bottom and unflattering to his model. But he had two things going for him when it came to the judges: he stuck a needle through one of his fingers and was in serious pain during the challenge, which clearly hindered his ability to sew. He noted his problems to the judges, who showed plenty of sympathy. He had also won the first challenge and the judges will sometimes base their decisions on overall performance, not just a single outfit.

Deyonte Weather with his outfit that almost got him booted. CREDIT: Lifetime

It was never noted on the show but Karidza said he was super sick during the challenge. "I had a fever that day," he said in an interview Friday. "I could not keep out of the bathroom. I was barely able to finish my look by the skin of my teeth." He said he had to cut corners because he was over-ambitious and couldn't do everything he wanted.

He looked dour and downtrodden during the runway show and critique, fueled by his sickness. He later admitted he looked so stricken during the interviews he did during the challenge, he had to come back and re-tape them later, wearing a different outfit. But he said he chose not to make an issue of his illness to the judges.

"I don't like giving excuses," he said. "Sick or not sick, we're there for a reason. I still stand by my design. I left with dignity."

Kudzanai Karidza, nursing a killer cold and looking sick, next to his model and the dress that knocked him out of the competition. CREDIT: Lifetime

He also had to work next to Buitendrops, who were, to say the least, gabby,  hyperactive and ultimately distracting.

"Stay away from Red Bull and coffee," Tim Gunn told one of the twins Claire.

Kudzanai said twin Shawn's dress was a terrible fit for her model and was not well made and should have been at the bottom.

"The twins weren't terrible people," he said. "They were nice people. Their personalities were a lot to take in every single day when you're trying to stay focused."

The twins were constantly interacting with each other.
Kudzanai thought this dress by Shawn should have been in the bottom two.

Despite his short time on the show, he has made friends with many on the cast, including Brandon Kee, another finals contender. "Everyone is so talented," he said. "So amazed of their skill sets. It's one of those things to be a designer on your own. This gave us all an opportunity to work with other creative people and be inspired. You have no choice but to feel that energy."

Kenya Freeman of Atlanta is in a good position to end up in the finals based on her first three looks. CREDIT: Lifetime

Kenya Freeman, another Atlantan, is a major contender to make it to the finals. Her three looks so far have been exquisite. Kudzanai was a fan and a friend.

"Kenya is a phenomenal seamstress," Kudzanai said of Kenya. "I really love her intricacy and her use of fabric is dope. Kenya is going to do great."

Kenya Freeman's third runway look.

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.