Making the Cut
The day has finally arrived! I'm so pumped up for this show. I love that Amazon uses an old school TV format and releases a new episode every Friday, rather than dumping it all in a big pile, like Netflix.
E P I S O D E O N E
Am I naive thinking that Tim and Heidi really and truly enjoy each other? They both seem so utterly likable, it’s not so hard to imagine.
Nice that it’s only twelve designers, and from all over the world. The winner gets $1,000,000 and the winner of each challenge will be sold on Amazon. Speaking of Amazon, clearly they spent a lot of money on the show. Jeez, having the first challenge at the Eiffel Tower, what a way to plant your flag.
Their first challenge: make two looks, one accessible and wearable, the other high fashion. They went to a fabric store and how interesting that there were random other shoppers in the store.
I loved all the technical jargon about putting together a “tech pack” to give to the seamstresses. Another detail that makes it seem more grown up than Project Runway.
Designer Joseph Altuzzara
Editor Carine Roitfeld
Celebutante Nicole Richie
Supermodel Naomi Campbell
The runway show was off the hook amazing. It was touching to see the designers getting all emotional. Clearly some of them were better than others. And what a treat to have a show with no commercials.
Martha was on the chopping block but the judges were divided, so they kept her. I think she has a lot of promise, she needs to be more deliberate about being finished and thoughtful.
Sent home: Jasmine. The sheer dark green dress wasn’t a good idea - - it was a bold choice but didn’t quite come off.
Esther was chosen as the winner. I was surprised by that, my favorite piece by far was the beige dress with the red torso, I thought that was fascinating. Sorry I didn’t make a note of who made it - - it says something about the quality of the show that I was too busy watching the show to write something down!
E P I S O D E T W O
I loved that the episode started with a classic Project Runway bit of flash-forward drama. “Oh Martha! What happened to Martha!”
The challenge: make a haute couture look and an accompanying look in a more ready-to-wear format. The winner will get their look sold on Amazon and also have a feature in judge Carine Roitfeld’s CR Fashion Book. I know I’m not in the business, but I never heard of her or the Fashion Book. Please forgive me.
The designers went to an exhibit of YSL at the Louvre for inspiration and made their sketches out on the plaza. And classic television, every bit of Martha is packed with, “When is she going to flip out?”
Heidi and Tim on a date, how adorable! I thought of a quote by Anna Madrigal in *Tales of the City:* “There are all sorts of marriages, Mona.”
A question: why are the designers bleeped when they swear? It’s not an Amazon thing, people swear on *Mrs. Maisel* all the time.
Richard, bless his heart, predicted that Heidi’s “performance” with the Moulin Rouge showgirls would be for an audience of one (Tim). It was cute, Miss Heidi was working that costume, and I loved how they dumbed down the choreography for her.
A few choice comments from the judges:
Naomi about Josh's dress: "I'm not putting my mother in that outfit." Heidi correctly identified the provenance of Troy's dress as "bathmat." And Richard loved Sabato's two white 1920s dresses, he called them "very Lady Mary."
What a joy to see the designers being so quiet and respectful during the critiques, there was no talking back and no excuses. That might change in future episodes, of course.
Martha was sent home. It was untenable that she had no sewing in either of her garments, that they were pinned together with safety pins. And what was with the meringue on the eyebrows.
I was crazy for Sander's silver satin creation, that was stunning. Heidi told them to make a show-stopper and that's what he did. But the hole at the crotch was ill-considered, it cracked me up that Heidi called it "the birth canal." He would have won the challenge if he'd made it a normal skirt, or better, pants.
Ji Won's little white dress was chosen by a buyer from Amazon. I thought her man's look was even more impressive. And Esther was the winner again! She better watch out, there’s gonna be a big target on her back now.
E P I S O D E T H R E E
Such a treat seeing people standing next to each other, walking out in the world! Seems like such a long time ago.
The challenge: create a “collab collection,” like Vivienne Westwood’s collaboration with Louis Vuitton. They had to make a three-look collection, where one look had to be accessible. The designers were paired up with each other. As we know from Project Runway, this could either be a match made in heaven or a match made in hell. We saw the designers meeting with each other, all happy and thrilled with each other and themselves. Subject to change!
Quote of the episode, from Will: “It’s important to know how to collaborate with other people. Because nobody wants to work with a dick.” The other great quote, from Tim, about the designers piecing things together but not really morphing their visions: “There’s way too much Frankenstein going on in this room.”
I loved that Sabato and Sander called each other Papi and Bébé. Cute! I really adore the inserts with Tim and Heidi being cozy. That caricature situation was priceless, also the large dog peeing on the tree.
The runway (on the banks of the Seine, no less):
Jonny and Megan: fabulous collection. The white jacket was my favorite piece.
Ji Won and Rinat: strange, all of it.
Will and Esther: the judges thought it was matchy matchy and unfinished.
Josh and Troy: mishmash. Richard thought it looked like it came from a thrift store.
Sabato and Sander: The French judge (who Richard called “The Wolfman’s sister”) called it, “A very strange collaboration, but it works very well.”
Jonny and Megan were in the top, the judges felt the collaboration was very fruitful. Sabato and Sander were chosen as the winners, their collection had a lot of impact.
Josh and Troy were on the bottom, they felt that the looks weren’t cohesive even within a single look. And what a shocker, Josh wrote his own pink slip, he said he wanted to leave! Which he did. The episode ended with a cliffhanger, with the judges not making up their minds about whether or not Troy was going to stay.
E P I S O D E F O U R
Naomi, Nicole, Joseph, and Carine all decided to give Troy another chance. Heidi, that cool Teutonic number, told him she had NOT changed her mind and she still thought he should leave.
Tim and Heidi had a little talk and he talked the designers about how they need to demonstrate their determination, drive, and, to use his word, “fight.” He gave them a challenge, to prove their mettle: they were given the fabric from the previous challenges, given seven hours in the workroom, and they would make one look to be presented to the judges.
Why seven hours and not five or ten?
The Heidi and Tim insert: Tim and Heidi did some fencing. Tim said he was obsessed with fencing and had been fencing for four years. Heidi won three out of three in their match. Tim was totally namby pamby, what was up with that.
Here’s what Troy said before the runway show: “I’m just hoping for the best.” Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does it.
Megan: lovely, very sharp.
Rinat: didn’t have much impact, didn’t really show much.
Ji Won: again, not so wow.
Jonny: the fabric had big impact and the design was understated, an interesting combo.
Sabato: looked a little rushed and not so original.
Troy: oh it was bad, ill-fitted, blobby, dull. Naomi asked her to take off the jacket so she could see the dress, and the story only got worse.
Sander: the judges liked it, but I thought it was a little too tricked out.
Will: Nicole called it “weird party clothes back in the day.”
Esther: fascinating, detailed but not over designed.
The judges spoke with Rinat, they thought she did a good job but could have done more. Megan told the judges that she wanted to make a “sophisticated Fly Girl” look, which the judges loved. Once Naomi heard the Fly Girl inspiration, she was able to forgive the elastic waist.
Naomi said she was proud of Jonny, that must have been wonderful to hear. The judges loved his dress. Joseph said it was feminine and graceful, Heidi said it was simple but a head-turner. Jonny was the winner, he and Megan were the top two.
Whoa, Naomi was intense in her critique of Troy, she didn’t feel like he delivered it. Joseph didn’t feel that he could see Troy’s identity in his clothes, never during the whole competition. His defense was that he was learning a lot with each challenge, but you know, this isn’t a teaching competition! He was sent home.
The judges also put Will in the bottom, they felt like his stuff was too disco and not really Now. Will said that he went outside of his comfort zone and made pants, which he hadn’t done before - - Nicole didn’t feel this was the time to try something new. Good point! Will was also sent home.
The episode ended with the designers being told to pack their bags because they were moving to TOKYO. Can’t wait!
E P I S O D E F I V E
Welcome to Tokyo.
Tim Gunn is SO CUTE in his chalk stripe coveralls, bucket hat, bright white sneakers, and side-mount fanny pack! I just love that man, let me go on the record with that.
The challenge: a two-look streetwear collection, one showstopper and one accessible. The winner gets to do a collaboration with Puma. Wowie wow. Tim encouraged them to find a muse in their explorations around Tokyo, and also to create their own print.
Sabato had some issues in the workroom. He said, “It’s very challenging for me.” Um, yeah, it’s challenging for everyone. That’s why it’s called a “challenge.”
On to the runway, aka ex-calator:
Guest judge: Chiara Ferragni, the most famous fashion influencer in the world! This show makes me feel so out of touch, I’ve never heard of her. Do I need to subscribe to Vogue? Or similar?
Ji Won: the red and orange outfit was sharp. I would have liked the print better if had been bigger.
Esther: love the wigs, but the outfits were underwhelming.
Sander: the runway look was indeed a showstopper and the accessible look was fabulous, but the judges weren’t sure it was streetwear.
Jonny: great attitude in his clothes, the print in the accessible look was divine. I felt like the chopsticks were cliché. The judges were crazy for both looks, but I didn’t feel the second look had the impact of the first.
Megan: the print was fantastic, and a nice sense of ease.
Sabato: dull, dull, dull. And Tim was angry that he had scrapped the striped dress.
Rinat: I LOVED the mixed print shirt, that was fantastic, looked so fantastic with the pants. And the lining on the runway jacket, that was brilliant. The strongest of the group. The judges loved her outfits but felt like they didn’t necessarily understand who she is as a designer.
Hoorah, Rinat was the winner.
Esther: when the judges spoke to her, I expected them to ask her, “Tell us, do you see a red door and want to paint it black?” Naomi felt like showing nothing but black doesn’t appeal to a customer, and Heidi said black doesn’t come across so well when you’re looking at a garment online. Word.
Sabato: Heidi thought his clothes were goth and “not good.” Joseph felt like his looks didn’t live up to his work. Naomi made the point that streetwear wasn’t for everyone. He brought up the dress he decided not to show and Tim confirmed that it was one of the strongest looks in the workroom (I imagine that decision will keep him up at night for a while). Sabato tried to defend himself, he said he had so much more to show them. Sorry, girl bye.
E P I S O D E S I X
Heidi and Tim introduced the challenge by talking about how Tokyo is a dichotomy of the old and the new. Heidi said she had never heard the word "dichotomy" before, which I thought was a cute bit invented by the writers, but then I remembered Tim schooling Project Runway designers on unusual words and phrases ("viscera," "Sturm und Drang"), and those bozos were native English speakers.
The challenge: make a two-look collection that illustrates opposing forces - - old and new, hard and soft, masculine and feminine, whatever they like.
Esther was inspired by the steeple coming out of the roof of a temple, which she contrasted with a flowy, “water world” dress. Tim was shocked that she was using color. The judges liked the black dress but thought the acid yellow dress was costumey.
Rinat’s dichotomy was Jewish vs. Buddhist. Tim liked the Buddhist look but wasn’t sold on the Hasidic look, he felt like the knot in the front of the skirt looked like “a dry cleaning accident.” Heidi said the first look was like hand-me-downs. The judges thought the shiny fabric in the second look was cheap.
Jonny’s dichotomy was his repressed Catholic upbringing working against/with his current freaky gay self, aka darkness and light. He used black and white print fabrics, representing the light and the dark. Heidi felt like it could all sell. Joseph felt he had softened his brand in a way that was very useful.
Ji Won was inspired by traditional Korean fashion, paired with something more edgy and modern. Tim felt like it verged on costume. I loved the robe but felt like the dress was cheesy, Chiara said the dress was “not special.” Heidi felt like the skirt was too short.
Heidi and Tim told Sander to make something accessible, since he hadn’t really achieved that in the previous challenge, so he chose to do creativity vs. commerce. The dress was a T-shirt x 2: a T-shirt top with a T-shirt shape blocked on the bodice, and a skirt with the pockets sticking out - - and the jumper had pants on the bottom and a pants structure to the top.
Megan chose to do the old vs. the new. The silver flounce on the dress had major impact, and the judges loved the suit. Joseph mentioned that it’s difficult making a pantsuit in white.
The runway show was at the Amazon fashion headquarters, with an immersive digital backdrop (chosen by the designers) projected onto the wall. Guest judge, Noonoouri, a Japanese web character. The winning look would be worn by Noonoouri on her website.
Sander was the winner, the judges loved that his conceptual high fashion was being translated into something wearable and sellable.
Ji Won was close to being cut, but she ended up being safe. Rinat was on the chopping block, Heidi didn’t feel that the clothes were flattering. Naomi believed in her and didn’t want her to leave, but the other judges outvoted her. Ouch, she had just won the previous challenge, that’s harsh.
BTW I went to Amazon to see how much these clothes are selling for, and literally everything was sold out. Maybe they're made in very limited editions, or maybe they're just selling like hotcakes? I'll try and remember to check it out sooner next week. And grunt, I noticed that the Making the Cut page on Amazon includes a link to Heidi's intimates collection. Hashtag "rabid capitalism."
We're down to five designers. I thought I'd choose a final three but I really don't have any idea who it's going to pan out, each of them is so talented and also has issues. I will say that I think Sander will be in the final three, not because his win in the most recent episode puts him at the front of my mind, but because he did the most impressive look of the whole season, the silver satin bubble outfit from episode two, that was stunning. We'll see!
E P I S O D E S E V E N
The challenge: make two looks for a digital marketing photo shoot, up to three photos in the campaign. Once again one of their looks had to be accessible. Has that been the case with every challenge?
Heidi and Tim’s excursion had them at a virtual reality joint, fighting each other. Tim beat Heidi, and was she acting at being cranky, or was she really cranky? We may never know.
Jonny had a teary video call with this husband and family, they were in LA opening up a new store for his fashion line. It’s always useful, as an audience member, to be reminded of what the designers are sacrificing by being on the show.
The runway show:
Esther: her looks were strong but not really memorable.
Sander: I loved the models switching jackets on the runway, what was so special.
Jonny: that black and white floral was greatly helped by the coffee. I thought the man’s outfit was odd.
Ji Won: the first outfit was not flattering. The dress was good, but what did it have to do with the other look?
Megan: the pantsuit was sharp, and the gown with the leather pants, that was something else. Naomi was instantly seeing elements of that gown with jeans, or with boots or sneakers. It’s always a good sign when the imagination of a judge is being engaged.
Ji Won was sent home. Jeez, the girl is only 26! She’s got a lot to learn, but she’ll potentially have a long career ahead of her.
The winner came down to Jonny and Megan. The judges liked Megan’s clothes but not her campaign, and they liked Jonny’s campaign but not so much his clothes. They asked Jonny and Megan to hash it out and it was fun watching them defend themselves and maybe not throw the other under the bus, but definitely give them a nudge in that direction. Jonny was chosen as the winner because the campaign was so much stronger.
E P I S O D E E I G H T
Heidi really did look stunning in that high style kimono. Heidi and Tim met the four designers for a tea ceremony. Interesting that they used the term “assignment” rather than “challenge” - - has that been the case throughout the series?
The “assignment:” they need to make two to four looks that represented their evolution through the competition, one of which had to be accessible. Each designer will be given two seamstresses, who will be in the workroom with them. All four designers decided to do three looks.
Richard, when they were in the fabric store, that they never discussed a budget for fabric. Or did we miss that?
Heidi and Tim went to a sake bar and got wasted.
Jonny had two female models and one male model booked, and one of the female models (the one he was most excited about) canceled. He realized that he had another male model as a backup, so he decided to put the dress on HIM.
Megan had a mini meltdown during her check-in with Tim. She’s the only one of the four who had never won an “assignment,” so that set her apart, and maybe not in a good way. Tim gave her a boost of confidence.
Esther: the judges loved the black and white, loved the sharpness of her design, and were tickled by the TOP THREE T-shirt.
Sander: they weren’t sold on the first, neon green look. The second gown, with the open back, was stunning. The final look was also stunning Loved the hot pink circle in the makeup.
Megan: the first look was lovely but not so powerful. The second look, to quote Heidi, was “messy.” The final dress was, like the first look, pretty but not so impactful.
Jonny: the first look was off in terms of fit. The second look was fabulous, The final dress was just fine, but the judges weren’t wild for the bag strapped across the torso. They were a little disappointed by Jonny in general.
Esther was the winner and Sander was also moved on to the final three. The judges spoke with Jonny and Megan to figure out who was going to get cut. Naomi believed in Megan but the other three weren’t convinced. They felt that Jonny’s stuff was lacking in novelty - - Heidi said she had bought the jacket in the middle look two years ago. His defense was very eloquent.
The judges asked to have time to talk without the designers present. Megan was sent home. I felt bad for her, but it was clear from the fashion show.
The finale: they’ll make a twelve-to fifteen look collection and design a pop-up shop. The final two would be chosen by the success of the pop-up shop. Hm, very interesting!
E P I S O D E N I N E
The final episodes, can you imagine! It all went by so fast. The assignment: create, design, and merchandise a pop-up store that displays your brand. As Esther put it, you need to create a universe to embody your brand.
They also needed to create a ten to twelve look collection for a runway show, and a business plan for how you plan to use the $1M to serve their brand. So grown up, very impressive. They were leaving Tokyo and would have 30 days to do their thing.
The special feature of Tim and Heidi packing, what a scream. My favorite quote, from Tim. “OK, we’re all set. And just barely, the car is coming in three hours.”
Jonny flew home to LA for one day, had coffee with his handsome husband, and flew straight to Bali (!), where he met with the people who fabricate his clothes. He knew that he would lose his rhythm and drive if he took more time off, I love that he’s such a clear thinker.
Sander went home to Belgium and we saw him walking through the woods with his mom, who was so beautiful. He knew that his aesthetic was abstract and high fashion and that he had to make it grounded and more accessible. One of his plans for his pop-up store was to have an in-house tailor.
We saw Esther in her all white apartment. Makes sense, she works primarily in black, so her living space would be white. She showed us her designs for the pop-up store, she seemed to be on a great trajectory (as Tim would say).
They arrived in New York, where they’d be building their pop-up stores and showing their collections (they’d been working with the space designers already). Wow, how considerate and thoughtful, the producers of the show decorated their workspaces specific to each designer.
Tim met with them and explained the next steps. The pop-up shops would open in two days. Consumers would be coming in and placing orders, which would be tallied. And KABOOM: they’d be doing an elimination after the pop-up shops, one of the there designers would not be showing their collection on a runway show. Ouch.
We saw the designers meeting with the pop-up designers and hm, both Jonny and Esther were doing their stores in concrete. And sort of similar grooves for their clothes. Jonny made the prediction that if one of the three designers would be sent home, it would probably be him or Esther.
I had concerns about Esther and Johnny: Tim expressed concern about the ropes being a trip, stumble, and fall hazard, and it appeared that she trimmed them. But Jonny, his space looked really amateurish and the voguers, would they be taking up too much space and isn’t vogueing totally 90s?
It was fun seeing the consumers in the store, most fun seeing Heidi and Naomi going all girly and buying everything. Heidi’s quote (I’m paraphrasing): “Only $325? Well, then I’m not choosing between blue and black, I’m getting both!”
F I N A L E
The judges spoke with Jonny first. Nicole loved that he called his collection Metamorphosis because she felt that he had really evolved from the designer who started in the competition. Heidi felt that his pop-up shop looked like a real shop.
The judges felt like Sander had a fantastic idea with the onsite tailor, though Joseph felt like the tailoring was lost with the primary focus being T-shrits and the like. Naomi felt like his brand was very junior and she wondered what it would look like online.
Heidi felt like Esther’s store was lots of fun and a great expression of her style. Naomi felt like she walked into Esther’s world. Joseph thought she could communicate that black was central with her collection, but do it with other colors besides black. Nicole said that it was up to her whether she wanted to do only what she wanted to do, or get bigger. Getting bigger would require she uses more colors.
The judges chose Jonny as the winner, and to me, his shop was the least successful! So once again, it’s proved - - what do I know. And break my heart, Sander was eliminated. His exit was very high-spirited but I imagine that he was, in private, totally GUTTED.
Next up: Jonny and Esther each needed to present their business plan to Christine Beauchamp, the buyer from Amazon. Tim would be there as moral support.
Jonny said that all of his successes and failures as a designer and entrepreneur have led to this moment. I found that very profound. Esther was thrilled to see her looks on the models, she had only seen it on herself.
The pitches! Christine immediately latched onto Esther’s philosophy: the mix of strength and vulnerability is what it is to be a modern woman. Esther’s presentation was very composed, very intensely thought out. Christine asked how she would expand her brand to include color, and she said she would start with black and white, then add grey, and branch out from there.
Jonny was SO NERVOUS. Christine made an effort to calm him down, which I thought was very kind. Did you notice that he didn’t have any slides? Esther had a really precise and concrete plan spelled out in her Power Point presentation, and Jonny just had his name on the screen. Jonny left the room feeling like he killed it, but I felt like he was too nervous and his pitch seemed much more basic.
The runway show! Can we talk about Heidi’s dress. Love the fabric, love the shape, but I felt like having her gazongas front and center, to that degree, was vulgar. Am I a prude?
Jonny’s show was stunning, it was aspirational yet attainable, distinctive but not wacko. Heidi didn’t like the “washing the dishes gloves,” which Nicole called “a little murderer.” Tim said, “It’s a fashion show. It’s not just a bunch of clothes.”
Esther’s first look was stunning, what a way to start the show. Her clothes were very special occasion, unlike anything else out there. I thought having a visor on every model wasn’t the best idea. The way she used the filmy, transparent fabrics, fabulous. The judges loved that she had a few pieces using white. Did you know that the final procession of all the models is known as “a train?”
The final tribunal! The judges had a little quarrel before the designers came in. Rather than arguing about Art versus Clothes, like they do on Project Runway, the subject was Art versus Commerce.
The judges saw Esther as a true artist. Naomi asked if she would be open to color, and she said the same thing she had said to Christine in her pitch. Heidi asked Esther why she should win. She said, “I’ve put all my seeds in the soil and it’s time to water them.” She ended by saying, “I’m ready for it.”
Joseph felt like Jonny had opened himself up to new elements after the neutrality and toughness of Skingraft, he described it as “candy.” Naomi said she had felt his “lifestyle” in his pop-up shop. She asked him if he had a solid plan, and he said he started his first workshop in Bali with $500 and one sewing machine, and now he has 100 tailors. He has done this, he knows how to do it.
It came down to:
Naomi chose Esther.
Heidi chose Esther.
Joseph chose Jonny.
Chiara chose Jonny.
And drumroll, please: Nicole chose Jonny, he was the winner.
I love that they brought Jonny back to the runway, with no one else there. That gave a nice sense of closure.
You probably picked up on the fact that I thought Esther was the stronger designer. I have two thoughts on the subject, of why they chose Jonny over her. First, she heard over and over again that she needed to start using color, and she gave a very compelling and honest response to that question, that she could be talked into it. Well, why didn’t she just DO it rather than say she could be talked into it? If she had shown some real color in her finale collection - - let’s say one of her black dresses in purple, another in medium grey - - she would have won.
My other thought: the judges said in nearly every episode that they were choosing the designer as much as the clothes. Jonny is a more engaging personality, Esther is more introverted. So the judges might have felt that he’d have an easier time being the face of his global brand.
I wasn’t able to find anything online about season 2. I REALLY hope the show has a season 2, I loved it big time.