Keith Michael(born Keith Michael Rizza on January 14, 1972) is an American fashion designerbased in New York City. Michael participated in the third season of American reality showProject Runway.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Keith Michael attended the Pratt Institute as an illustration major, then turned his attention toward photography. He took a job as a receptionist at a photography studio, and was soon promoted to stylist, assistant photographer, and finally, photographer. His photography has been published in W, ELLE, GQ and BlackBook magazines. He has his own line of men & women’s clothing which has been described as “natural, organic and lovingly hand finished.” (Andrea Cusick of Nylon Magazine). He has also been honored with a nomination for “Best Newcomer of the Year” by Sportswear International. Michael’s distinctive tightly tailored clothes are sold in high end boutiques in Los Angeles and New York City.
Despite having a design focus on men’s wear, Michael auditioned for Project Runway; a women’s wear design reality television show competition on the Bravo Network. Michael came out as a front-runner from the beginning by winning the first challenge and receiving immunity for the second. Michael was also told on air by show host, Heidi Klum, that he might have won the third challenge, but did not because he did not fully complete the task (the third challenge was to make an outfit for a woman and her dog; Michael refused to make a dog outfit). Michael was made the leader of his team in the fourth challenge based on his sketches for the challenge.
According to Tim Gunn, the contracts which are signed by the designers upon qualifying for Project Runway clearly state that pattern-making books, fashion how-to books, fashion magazines or other such materials are not allowed anywhere on the production. Designers are also not allowed to leave the production without being accompanied by a member of the production staff, to ensure that they do not gain even temporary access to such materials, outside assistance or suggestions, or materials for their challenge garments not acquired according to the challenge parameters.
During the episode “Reap What You Sew”, it was revealed that designer Kayne Gillaspie discovered pattern-making books in Keith’s room of their Atlas apartment. Upon consultation with other designers in the apartment, he brought the books to the attention of the producers. When other designers found out about the pattern book discovery there was a confrontation between the designers over the presence of the books, and Michael left the production for several hours, during which time, he accessed the Internet when he e-mailed one of the producers.