Amazon’s “Making the Cut” isn’t just a fashion competition, it’s about business. The series is looking for a creative artist who’s also an entrepreneur capable of running their own global brand. So with only five contestants left, hosts Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn gave them an assignment that tested their business prowess: the designers not only created looks for a fashion show but also oversaw photo shoots to promote those looks. So who sold the judges on their skills in “Digital Marketing Campaign,” and who failed to make the cut? Read on for our recap with our minute-by-minute hot takes.SEE‘Making the Cut’ episode 6 recap: In ‘Opposing Forces,’ which headstrong designer wanted to put their foot down with the judges?
1:40 — Heidi and Tim tell the designers they will be the creative directors of their collections as well as their photo shoots, from which they can select up to three images. Their shoot will take place at the Edo Architectural Museum. Megan Smith is immediately overjoyed. “I think I can probably take this assignment,” she says. Ji Won Choi already art directs every photo shoot she does, “so this assignment is my chance to prove myself.” Jonny Cota is also looking forward to getting out of sewing and focusing on his entrepreneurial side.
3:20 — Tim says this challenge will the linchpin for the designers in this competition. Yes, Heidi Klum agrees … wait, what’s a linchpin? So that’s today’s vocabulary word of the day: linchpin (noun) — a person or entity essential to an enterprise.
4:22 — “There’s only five of us left, so we’re definitely connecting more on a personal level,” says Ji Won. So it’s a night of sake and sympathy for the designers. “We are all friends, and we’re all getting along, but we are all here to win,” clarifies Jonny. That’s right, ply them with alcohol now so they can’t design tomorrow! Okay, it’s not that cutthroat … yet.SEE‘Making the Cut’ episode 5 recap: Who ignored Tim Gunn’s advice in ‘Streetwear,’ and did they live to regret it?
5:16 — Esther Perbandt is drawn to a cigarette kiosk at the architecture museum, while Sander Bos is inspired by an old art store. Megan is drawing from the “linear” appearance of the parasols and windows in one building. Jonny seems to be the only designer who is taking his inspiration from a green space full of bonsai plants, so he’s going super feminine with a floral print for his looks. And Ji Won finds a train that reminds her of the New York City subway. This train car is completely empty, like some New York subway cars probably are right now during the coronavirus pandemic, so that could resonate in an eerie, emotional way she never could have imagined. I’m looking forward to it. But Ji Won is concerned because she promised the judges evening wear after they criticized her in “Opposing Forces.” She’s creating a fitted dress as her runway look, which is new territory for her, and her accessible look will resemble her model coming home from a rave.
10:21 — The floral Jonny picked looks kinda like “hospital bed sheets.” So he’s going to pair them with a “punk-rock denim vest … I just have to keep telling myself I like this fabric. If I keep saying it over and over, I’ll believe it.” I think the fabric looks fine, but designing with a fabric you don’t even like is a risky proposition. It could throw off his instincts. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but sometimes it just leads you astray.SEE‘Making the Cut’ episode 4 recap: Tim Gunn tells the designers to ‘Fight for Your Life,’ but they’ve only got 7 hours
11:35 — Ji Won is concerned about the fact that she’s doing a fitted look on a plus-size model. That has been the bane of many designers’ existences on fashion design shows, but I think it’s absolutely crucial. If you can only design for one kind of body, not only does that limit your customer base, it also limits your artistry. We all want to look good, and we all can if designers push themselves.
11:56 — Megan is also pushing herself beyond her comfort zone. She wants to show the “evolution” of her style, but she struggles with her color blocking, which feels “cheap” and “forced” to her, so she “wasted a whole day” and has to start over. Then Esther suddenly asks Megan if she has an extra rubber … whoa, save it for after the show, Esther! Okay, she actually means an eraser. The great thing about an international competition for a language enthusiast like me is the interesting language-barrier moments. Also, it entertains my inner juvenile 12-year-old.SEE‘Making the Cut’ episode 3 recap: Whose ‘Collaboration’ was a ‘recipe for disaster’ when designers teamed up?DAY TWO
15:40 — Tech packs are back from the seamstresses. Jonny looks at his dress, and “it’s like I wanted it. It’s not the cutest dress in the world, but … I will make it work.” Bad sign that even when things are going as planned he’s so underwhelmed by his own design. He’s also “struggling to keep focus” because not long before he came on the show he closed his store of 10 years, and he “cried for a week.” He felt defeated and swore never to do retail again, but he did, and his family is working on his new store right now while he’s on “Making the Cut.”
18:12 — Tim Talks begin. He thinks Sander’s menswear look is more gender-neutral, and there’s a unique opportunity for Sander to have the models switch tops on the runway. But then Tim calls Jonny’s dress “Laura Ashley for Skingraft” — not the kind of comparison you want to hear. He thinks the print is “perplexing,” and Jonny’s gonna need the vest he’s working on because “the challenge for you with this print is to make it look cool.” Tim is excited by Esther’s mosquito-wing-chic, but I’m not sure how I feel about her idea for “Believe in your dreams” text on her promotional photos. She could make that cool, but it could also turn into a “Hang in there baby” cat poster. He likes the direction Megan is going in, but she needs to really focus on how she’ll stage her photos. Ji Won, however, may be stepping too far outside her comfort zone; Tim doesn’t recognize her point of view in the dress she’s making, but she’s not going to make any changes to it. Fateful last words?SEE‘Making the Cut’ episode 2 recap: Which designers disrespected ‘Haute Couture,’ according to Naomi Campbell?
22:40 — Jonny is worried about Tim’s critique, but he’s also still preoccupied by the opening of his store back home, so he video chats with his husband and parents. “Dad and I know how to steam clothes!” says his delightful mother about their preparations. “It’s so weird not being there,” Jonny tells his gathered family, and when the call ends he’s overcome with emotion. I wonder if the show is foreshadowing his imminent elimination. They could be setting up his triumph, though, because he has a sudden epiphany. He’s going to dye his Laura Ashley hospital bed sheet dress with coffee. Folgers, but make it fashion.
27:00 — Model fitting isn’t going great for Ji Won, whose plus-size model (who’s not as curvy as Ji Won made it sound) struggles to fit into her pants — “I’m very used to achieving what I want, and it’s not really happening here.” At the last minute she decides to solve the pants problem with an elastic waist. That might not go over well, though, if the judges think the elastic makes the outfit look cheaper.
27:27 — “What is that smell? Is that the dress?” Sander asks Jonny about his dark roast floral print. Sander thinks the aroma is “horrid,” but Jonny likes how it looks. It’s definitely going to need the vest to tie it all together, though.SEE‘Making the Cut’ premiere recap: ‘Heidi and Tim Are Back,’ but how does it compare to ‘Project Runway’?DAY OF THE PHOTO SHOOT AND FASHION SHOW
28:34 — “Why does the world hate me so much?” says Jonny. The seamstress hardly did any work on his denim vest because the yarn he provided was too thick for their sewing machine. So he has 90 minutes to do all the rest of his work. Esther’s dress didn’t come back finished either. I’d really love to see some behind-the-scenes footage of the seamstresses doing their work. Could be its own parallel reality show. Sander’s pretty chill, though. He loves how things are going with his looks. Well-earned confidence, or false sense of security?
31:09 — “Oh my goodness, I love it!” says Megan about her photo shoot. She looks like a total pro, and her models look great. Ji Won’s enthusiasm is tempered by her dissatisfaction with her second look — “I hope the photo shoot can save me.”
32:23 — “I have no problem commanding people,” says Sander about his familiarity with running photo shoots. “I need you to scream at each other as loud as you can,” he orders his models. I have a good feeling about Sander in this assignment. He’s cool, unflappable, and I like what we’ve seen of his looks, though the show’s editing is holding back some of the details of everyone’s designs for the fashion show.SEE‘Making the Cut’ designer Jonny Cota on the challenge that was his ‘absolute worst nightmare’ [SPOILERS FOR EPISODES 3-4]
34:28 — ESTHER: The show starts with her looks. Judge Joseph Altuzarra thinks the accessible look is “very sexy for her.” Naomi Campbell thinks it’s a good dress for all body types. Chiara Ferragni likes the runway look better. Heidi thinks it’s the epitome of Esther. Maybe a little too Esther? These looks remind me of her “Haute Couture” designs.
35:33 — SANDER: Joseph loves the accessible look, and Heidi admires how Sander always comes up with “new shapes.” Chiara appreciates the contrast between masculine and feminine. And the models swapping jackets goes over well with the panel. “I love,” says Naomi. A third assignment win for Sander?
36:50 — JONNY: Chiara loves the coffee flowers runway dress. “Thank god you tea-dyed it,” says Tim. Joseph likes that Jonny keeps playing with his feminine side. The slitting in the dress is a success. And they appreciate his embrace of Japanese culture in his accessible look, which is “fashion-forward” and “editorial,” but wearable.SEEDesigner Rinat Brodach (‘Making the Cut’) interview on emotional whiplash of Tokyo challenges: ‘I don’t have regrets’ [SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 5-6]
38:00 — JI WON: Naomi doesn’t think the accessible pants are flattering. Heidi feels like it’s “the same old same old” from her. I like the pants better than Naomi did, though they could have fit better at the waist and hips. Joseph thinks the second dress is “definitely better.” Ji Won would probably agree with them on that, but we’ll see if it’s enough to keep her in the competition because everyone else so far seems to have hit home runs.
39:05 — MEGAN: Heidi would buy the first accessible suit in a heartbeat. Joseph thinks it’s an evolution for her, while Naomi admires that she “kept her stamp” as a designer. And they like the drama of her second look (me too, I adore this one!). Naomi notes that you could wear it with sneakers and boots even though Megan paired it with heels.SEE‘Making the Cut’ designer Sander Bos interview: He and Sabato Russo were like an ‘old married couple’ in ‘Collaboration’ [SPOILERS FOR EPISODES 3-4]JUDGING
41:37 — Esther gets the first critique. Heidi likes the black-and-white marketing campaign. Joseph felt it was “evocative,” and Naomi notes her “clear vision.” But Naomi doesn’t like the “Believe in your dreams” slogan — yeah, I still don’t either.
42:25 — Sander’s up, and Joseph loved Sander’s pieces, but the three images of the campaign felt disconnected for him. Naomi finds it “refreshing” the surprises he brings to the fashion shows every assignment.
43:09 — An split decision for Ji Won, as expected: Heidi loved the dress, but the accessible pants and top were “too ordinary,” and the two looks didn’t complement each other. Naomi didn’t think the modeling in the photos was flattering to the dress, even though they liked the dress. They give her a chance to convince them to keep her in the competition, but she’s unable to sway them. Ji Won is eliminated from the competition. I don’t envy designers in that position. She already admitted that the accessible look wasn’t great, and she did deliver a feminine look that they hadn’t seen from her before. If that and her previous work weren’t already enough to convince them, there’s not much more she could have said to change their minds.SEEJi Won Choi (‘Making the Cut’) on that challenge twist: ‘I didn’t expect that to happen at all’ [SPOILERS FOR EPISODES 1-2]
46:01 — “I’m disappointed. I wanted this my whole life. I talk about wanting to make my parents proud all the time, but I feel like they’re proud no matter what I do, and it’s just me that’s the hardest person,” says a tearful Ji Won during her exit interview. “I’m a complete perfectionist, and I wasn’t today.” It’s a testament to the overall quality of the designers’ work this week. Ji Won would have easily been safe with those two looks in a previous assignment. Joseph assures her this isn’t the end of the road for her; she is “super talented” and has achieved a lot at her young age.
46:57 — Jonny’s turn. Heidi isn’t a fan of the name “Skingraft” for his brand. Naomi agrees, though she otherwise loved the campaign. Joseph also thought the campaign was strong and told a story. Chiara didn’t think his individual pieces were as strong as some of his previous looks, though.
48:55 — They call up Megan while leaving Jonny up there before the judges. So these are the top two. Heidi thought Megan’s work was “fantastic.” But Naomi didn’t think the campaign worked; her seated model should have been standing to show off the clothes better in the photos. Since they loved Jonny’s campaign but loved Megan’s clothes, they’re going to have them fight for their brands to decide the winner. Megan argues that she has been consistent every week and her brand is younger than Jonny’s, but look how far she has already made it. Jonny argues that he has been showing range more and more every assignment. But I argue that encouraging the designers to throw each other under the bus isn’t a great way to do a reality show judgment. This feels unnecessarily sour to me, even though Jonny and Megan are heroically resisting the urge to dump on each other as the judges prod them to do so. After all that uncomfortable back-and-forth, Jonny is the winner of the assignment for nailing the campaign aspect, which was central to the assignment. Most of the judges already felt that way, so sowing discord didn’t really make a difference.SEE‘Making the Cut’ designer Esther Perbandt on her ‘milestone’: ‘That was the most important moment for me’ [SPOILERS FOR EPISODES 1-2]
53:44 — “There’s nobody I’d rather lose to here than him,” says Megan. Kudos to both of them for not going for each other’s throats.
54:47 — “I think the most important thing is for everybody to hit the sack,” says Tim after the challenging assignment. “Everyone should go to bed — but not with each other!” “Why not?” jokes Esther. After all, she’s already got the rubber.
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