“Making the Cut” premiered its second episode on March 27, the same day its series premiere dropped on Amazon, with successive episodes to premiere every Friday. So now that the designers have gotten their feet wet in Paris, which of the remaining 11 impressed the judges with their takes on “Haute Couture,” and which designer — or designers — made couture that just didn’t cut it? Find out by reading our minute-by-minute recap below.
0:24 — The episode starts with a tease. Martha Gottwald‘s having trouble. Martha is AWOL. Where’d you go, Martha? So how did we get here? Flash back 24 hours. A lot of drama upfront after a relatively drama-free workroom in episode one.
THE ASSIGNMENT: This episode is all about haute couture, which is “the highest end of fashion, constructed by hand from start to finish, made from high quality, expensive and often unusual fabric,” Tim Gunn explains. So this challenge is to create a showstopping couture look along with a more accessible, commercial interpretation of that look. Once again they’ll have two days, and there will be another luxurious setting for the fashion show: the Louvre. They’re gonna go apeshit like Beyonce! The winner will not only be sold on Amazon, but also be featured in judge Carine Roitfeld‘s magazine CR Fashion Book. Martha says she’s definitely up for the challenge. For the next 23-and-a-half hours at least.
3:50 — The designers are once again getting inspiration on the streets of Paris, including the Yves Saint Laurent Museum. He’s Megan Smith‘s favorite designer, and Jonny Cota feels like he’s getting a peek inside of history, and it “seals the deal” for him in terms of his idea for the challenge. Troy Hul Arnold feels a spiritual kinship with YSL’s fashions on display. This is basically church for fashion designers — Saint be praised!
4:29 — A closer look at Sander Bos‘s fashion journey. He’s the youngest designer in the competition at age 24 and he doesn’t want to wait until he’s “dusty and crusty” … at age 30 when he’s settled down with a husband and a dog — this single, dogless 36-year-old feels personally attacked. He went to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, and also works at a hamburger place to help make ends meet. “I think my aesthetic is balls to the wall,” he says with a wink.
6:06 — Episode one winner Esther Perbandt is inspired by a woman taking wedding photos, who was crossed by Esther’s tattooed competitor Josh Hupper. Now she wants to mix haute couture with edgy Berlin style. I like that this show just started and I already feel like I know her style inside and out. It bodes well for her, I think. Martha, meanwhile, is going for sequins, sparkles, embellishment and drama. Also very on-brand for her.
8:20 — Sabato Russo is inspired by his mother for this assignment, and he tells us that she died only two weeks ago. She always believed in him, so he wants to challenge himself to do something he’s never done before. “Her presence is fading into a memory” — a beautiful and heartbreaking sentiment. You’d never have known that he’s so recently been in mourning from how well he did in the last challenge.
9:49 — In the workroom, with eight hours to go until the end of the first day, Sander is confident about going to the edge of fantasy, and Martha is again starting a little unsure of herself. She has more purple in her fabric than she had in mind, and she has buyer’s remorse. Time to scrap her original idea entirely. So it’s the time for us to wonder if she’s the kind of frazzled who aces challenges or the kind of frazzled that flames out.
10:17 — Spotlight on Jonny, who was a stilt-walker in the circus and learned to sew so he could mend his own costumes. Then he started his own brand, Skingraft, which is pronounced “skin graft” but my eyes keep reading as “sking raft” like some kind of aquatic brand for edgy whitewater rafters. It’s dark, progressive streetwear, lots of leather, in-your-face, and his designs have been worn by Nicki Minaj. He does collections, shows and campaigns. He wouldn’t have been ready for this opportunity five years ago, but he’s ready now. Not bad for a dusty and crusty 35-year-old.
11:50 — Martha has totally scrapped the purple and gold print, and now she’s just using the blue and white gingham. She seems less afraid of her scissors this time, but she has no idea what to do for her second look.
HEIDI AND TIM: DATE NIGHT, PART ONE — Heidi Klum and Tim are going to the Moulin Rouge. “It’s so romantic,” she says while drinking champagne and watching the dancers cancan. “This is titillating!” she says, remembering the word Tim taught her in episode one. To be continued … I’m pretty sure Heidi and Tim signed up for this show to write off their European holiday. Nice work if you can get it.
14:05 — Martha likes the gingham top she’s been working on, but she needs another look, so she’s headed back to the fabric store. Unlimited fabric shopping — the “Project Runway” contestants would be so jealous.
15:10 — Tim starts his consultations, and Sabato tells him about his mother, his conviction to sew his own garment in her honor, and the drama about how her mom’s conservative family didn’t want her to marry his father. She never got a wedding, so he’s making the wedding dress she never had. The backstories from these designers could be their own movies. Jonny’s circus history could be Tim Burton. And maybe Fellini for Sabato’s parents?
18:01 — Martha is back with her new fabrics, and Tim thinks one of them looks like it’s going to the Oscars and the other looks like it’s going to milk the cows. “I’d better pull it together,” she says. Indeed. Her ideas are still kind half-ideas so far. She eventually decides to scrap the gingham entirely and go with the metallic fabric and a pink fabric that look like they have nothing whatsoever to do with each other.
19:52 — Sander is making big grey doughnuts for his couture look, and a very short dress for his accessible look. It looks like a shirt — “As Heidi would ask, is this fallopian?” says Tim about how, um, revealing it is. And the two looks don’t seem to have much in common. I like Sander’s brand of weird, but I’m not sure it’s coming together on this challenge right now. But when that doughnuts dress goes on the model during the fitting, it looks pretty damn awesome. I’m back onboard!
21: 58 — “We’re going to see a little bit of your ass, is that okay?” Sabato thoughtfully asks his model. Just be glad you’re not wearing Sander’s fallopian dress. Sander’s model doesn’t think that that dress is too short, but he’s still gonna give it a couple more inches for Tim’s sake.
23:47 — Will Riddle is worried for Martha because she doesn’t know how to sew. I’m worried for her too. Jonny consoles her, and Josh is also empathetic. “This environment is just not great for me, so it just doesn’t make sense for me to be here,” she says as she flees the workroom. And this is when Tim returns to find her AWOL. But she comes back and gets a much needed pep talk from Papa Tim. I know this isn’t a sewing competition, but it seems like a huge handicap to come into a fashion design show without having even rudimentary sewing skills. It’d be like a “Top Chef” contestant who has never used a pan. But I agree with Tim that she needs to make something happen instead of giving up. Win or lose, make the most of what time she has.
HEIDI AND TIM: DATE NIGHT, PART TWO — Heidi now gets to perform with the dancers at the Moulin Rouge. That is a big, bright, unforgiving costume, but Heidi is rocking it. No audience for this exclusive performance — for Tim’s eyes only, and the eyes of anyone watching on Amazon of course. “I think I’m going to have to go to the hospital now,” says Heidi. Shoulder strain from those feather wings?
DAY OF THE FASHION SHOW
28:44 — Martha got her couture dress back, but she didn’t send her pink dress to the seamstress at all. She doesn’t have much time for finishing touches, though. Or even really starting touches. It looks kinda like a pink fringe picnic blanket.
30:15 — And just like that, it’s time for the runway show, and I’m realizing we haven’t seen too many of the designers’ works in progress. So there could be some pleasant surprises … and some unpleasant surprises.
31:34 — ESTHER: Her couture look is “breathtaking” to Tim. I like the romantic black sequined skirt and the edgier top with its straps across the back. Carine thinks it’s “chic.” I’m not sure how I feel about the head wrap, looks like she’s had a head injury. The accessible look is a black with pants, but I think they’re both pretty commercial without being basic. Nicole Richie loves everything. Joseph Altuzarra says the looks really make sense. Naomi Campbell loves how the accessible look makes the waist look, but Carine would prefer the accessible look to have a longer skirt and lose the pants.
32:46 — MEGAN: Her accessible look comes out first. It’s a really stellar white dress with black straps hanging down one sleeve. Heidi thinks it’s “beyond gorgeous.” Joseph thinks it’s flattering. And the couture look is a sensational companion piece. Nicole loves it. Naomi and Heidi love the spider-web design. This could be a winner in this assignment.
33:38 — JI WON: Joseph thinks the accessible look has an interesting shoulder with an athletic quality. He thinks a lot of people could wear it. So does Nicole. I agree, I think that’s immediately sell-able. But Carine thinks it’s too short. Ooh, and the couture look on the male model, the same kind of fringed out seams but in black and longer and more ostentatious, but in a good way. Ji Won’s gonna give Megan a run for her money on this assignment. Tim thinks even he could pull that look off.
34:26 — JOSH: His accessible look is pretty messy. Joseph thinks there are fit and construction issues. Nicole thinks there are many issues. I think he tried to do something edgy, but it just looks kinda unfinished. The couture look is also a little underwhelming. Not enough drama, not a lot of shape, not a lot of cohesion between the two looks. “I’m not putting my mother in that outfit,” says Naomi. He’s in serious trouble.
34:46 — WILL: His couture look is really beautiful to look at with a gorgeous shade of blue, but man that poor model is waddling down the runway. The judges can clearly see how uncomfortable she is, and think Will should’ve split the dress so she could, you know, walk. But his accessible look is absolutely stunning in that same shade of blue but crisscrossed with gold. One of my favorite looks of the challenge so far, and Naomi loves how it’s fitted to the body. I think this look is gonna save him.
35:25 — SABATO: His couture look is a simple white dress, but the judges appreciate its simplicity because simple means it has to be “perfection.” And the draping on the open back is a gorgeous detail. The accessible look is maybe a little bit too similar, but I can see how it has a slightly more unassuming elegance. “Your mother would be so proud of you,” Tim says. Agreed!
35:58 — RINAT: Her bright orange accessible look really pops against the pale colors of the location. Heidi loves the shape and the color. Carine loves the simplicity of this one too. But Naomi doesn’t like that it looks like t-shirt material. Her couture look is cool too, but Heidi doesn’t know how they go together, and neither do I really. Completely different ideas, from the color to the style.
36:25 — TROY: Heidi loves the jacket on his couture look, but she probably has four of them in her closet. To be fair, her closet is probably the size of most people’s houses, and costs more than most people’s houses. I like it a lot. The accessible look is kind of a miss. Heidi think it looks like a bath mat. I think it looks kinda like a drawstring laundry bag. “Next!” says Naomi.
36:59 — JONNY: The accessible look is kind of like a black smock over leather pants. “Oh no no no,” says Naomi. Joseph thinks it’s “very simple,” but this time that is not a compliment. I don’t hate it, though. The couture look is a leather jacket with a dress, but Joseph thinks it’s “forgettable.” Naomi says, “It’s not my aesthetic, and it’s not couture in any way.” Heidi defends his aesthetic and says it’s not the worst of the day, but Naomi counters, “It’s pretty down there.” I like that there’s so much disagreement. Not just group-think on the panel. I’m with Heidi in that he’s kinda middle of the pack for me.
37:56 — MARTHA: I like the fabric and belt on her accessible look, the one she just pinned together. But Joseph sees right through it, he says it looks like it was just wrapped around the body, and he’s totally right. The couture dress is cool and dramatic, but Nicole thinks the finishing is sloppy. But Heidi is at least impressed by her imagination. Now it’s Nicole who’s the naysayer on the panel.
38:50 — SANDER: We couldn’t forget Sander. The accessible dress with its sprouting feathers I actually like a lot. Heidi immediately knows whose it is, but Naomi thinks the feathers are “hideous” and it’s “too loud.” Yeesh, rough crowd in this episode. Nicole thinks it’s done well and the finishes are nice. And Tim seems to love it watching with Sander backstage. On the couture doughnuts dress, the only hole Heidi dislikes is the one in-between the legs, and boy does that read differently than I meant to write it. “The birth canal,” jokes Nicole. But Nicole also says, “I’m here for it,” and so am I. Naomi isn’t into it, but I think it’s really weird and cool, and the two looks came out more cohesive than I expected. He’s definitely above a couple of the others.
39:44 — It seems like the top two are pretty clearly Megan and Ji Won. And I’m pretty sure Josh is toast. The other bottom designer might be Will, Jonny or Martha. Sander better be safe. He just showed that he can go wild and mild just as well.
40:19 — Oof, spoke too soon. The Megan looks that they loved from afar looks sloppier upon closer inspection. So I have a feeling it’s Ji Won for an easy win here. And Esther’s looks even better up close, so maybe she’ll be at or near the top too. And Joseph notices all the safety pins in Martha’s pink wrap-around dress. Her more elevated couture dress is just wrapped around too. No design there really. Okay, she might be screwed for that. Maybe Josh will be saved by virtue of having actually made something. Or both will be eliminated.
43:10 — Sander gets the first critique, so he must be at or near the top. I approve! Carine liked the drama of the doughnut dress, but she didn’t like the noise it made. However, “It’s a very French point of view.” Heidi loved the couture look because he took their showstopper instructions to heart. “I also love how gutsy you are,” says Heidi. Naomi tells him it wasn’t for her, but she appreciates his workmanship. Joseph liked the accessible piece with good fit and imagination. Heidi didn’t actually love the accessible look. But he still makes the cut.
45:14 — Martha is next, and I’m queasy for this inquisition. Naomi takes another look at the pink dress. No sewing at all, just fabric and pins. Heidi says the pink accessible look was fun, but she’s not a fan of the fact that she didn’t really design or construct anything at all. Naomi feels Martha disrespected the word couture. Nicole says Martha hid behind colorful fabric and “that’s not what this competition is.” They’re so unhappy they ask Tim to try to shed some light on the situation. He talks about her self-doubt, and the judges are concerned about that from her as a designer and businesswoman. Unsurprisingly, Martha is eliminated.
48:38 — Heidi reminds everyone that more than one person can be eliminated … right before calling Jonny up to the firing squad. Naomi says, “I wasn’t impressed by your outfits.” She thought it was too street, and again she thinks the designer disrespected the very idea of couture. Carine doesn’t think it was couture either. Jonny admits his construction sucked, but Heidi says that actually the construction was the saving grace. Joseph argues that there was nothing wrong with the look, per se, it just wasn’t new. Heidi thinks there’s more inside of him that he can bring out. He gives them the hard sell on his future potential as a designer. It sounds like it was a close call, but Jonny makes the cut. Good, he didn’t deserve to go for those looks. Naomi could lighten up a little about the sanctity of “couture.”
51:44 — Another chat with Esther. Is she winning again? Naomi loved both outfits and “felt a lot of strength from your woman … This is for me a perfect example of a new way of couture.” Nicole praises the execution. Carine thought it was “total couture.” Heidi gives the verdict: Esther is today’s winner! Two challenge wins in a row. I’m a little surprised Ji Won didn’t even make the top two. Maybe they saw something they didn’t like up close?
54:07 — But wait, there’s more. The judges also call up Ji Won. They have a surprise for her. A member of Amazon Fashion was at the show, and she liked it so much they’re making that one available on Amazon too. So two looks will be sold on Amazon from this assignment. But I’m still surprised Josh made it through unscathed after those comments from the judges during the fashion show. But based on the judges’ comments, this fashion show was a lot more uneven than episode one where the admired most of the designs. We’ll see if they can rebound. Or at the very least make sure they sew something.