‘Making the Cut’ episode 4 recap: Tim Gunn tells the designers to ‘Fight for Your Life,’ but they’ve only got 7 hours

In episode three of “Making the Cut,” “Collaboration,” the designers had to work in pairs to create mini collections that blended their aesthetics. At the end of that episode Josh Hupper was eliminated (he actually sort of eliminated himself before the judges even had the chance), and his partner Troy Hul Arnold was on the verge of elimination. So did the judges’ ultimately decide to give him a second chance? And how did the designers do in the next challenge when they had mere hours instead of days to create “Fight for Your Life” looks? Find out below in our recap with all our minute-by-minute takes.

0:11 — Beginning right from the cliffhanger from episode three, “Fight for Your Life” appears to be aptly titled. “When there’s a war, the tailor survives because the tailor can cut,” says judge Naomi Campbell about whether or not to keep Troy. “His knife is his tool” — if we didn’t know it already, man, don’t mess with Naomi. Nicole Richie also wants to give Troy another chance to get to know him better. Heidi Klum still wants to get rid of Troy, but Joseph Altuzarra also wants to see more from him, and Carine Roitfeld agrees. But he’s clearly on probation going into this next challenge.

1:57 — “I don’t feel this hunger of ‘I want this!'” says Naomi about the competitors so far. Not cutthroat enough for her, it seems. I think she literally wants to “Hunger Games” these designers. Tim Gunn speaks with Heidi and agrees that the designers are too “complacent … We need to wake them up.” Maybe the next challenge will be a blood sacrifice? Real-life “Mortal Kombat”? The winner will be sold on Amazon and the loser will be stabbed to death Ides of March-style with knitting needles.

3:07 — Tim tells the designers that he needs to see more fight from them, so he hands out the scissors and commands them to battle to the death — okay, not quite. Tomorrow morning the designers will get leftover fabric from previous fashion shows. No fabric shopping in this assignment. they’ll simply create one accessible look in only seven hours. The fashion show will be right in the workroom that night. No seamstresses. It’s all on them. “Well f*ck — please excuse my French,” says the German Esther Perbandt. “There are a lot of people that can’t sew. They don’t know even how to stitch a line together,” says Sander Bos. He’s not wrong. We’ve already seen how much a few designers have struggled when they have to do any of their own actual construction, though Esther and Sabato Russo both made it work in previous challenges when put in that position. I suspect this twist was always planned and it’s not because the designers are complacent, so I wish they hadn’t framed it as all the designers letting down Tim and the judges. I empathize with these nine competitors. They all deserve to be there and have all shown skill and style thus far.

6:45 — Troy knows all eyes will be on him in this next challenge. “I’ve got to come correct.” He’s sketching in preparation. Megan Smith is sketching. Will Riddle is sketching. Megan thinks it would be foolish to be in the courtyard drinking wine right now, right after we saw Jonny Cota drinking wine in the courtyard — shade!

7:30SPOTLIGHT ON MEGAN — Her mother was only 16 when she had her, and her mom was also diagnosed with schizophrenia, which forced her to grow up fast. Megan feels that has prepared her for her future challenge. She thinks of her brand, Megan Renee, as a combo of Jennifer Lopez with the coolness of Bianca Jagger. She designs for her own brand and also works for another company, and some of Megan’s looks that they cut to — black-and-white patterns, colorful prints — are gorgeous.


10:01 — Courtyard wine-drinker Jonny is flying high after his positive critiques from the previous challenge. So he’s going to bring out his more feminine side of himself again, but I hope he doesn’t have a false sense of security. After all, he was almost eliminated in the challenge right before that. Meanwhile, Will scavenged sequined fabric from Josh and Troy’s fail look; he wants to show the judges that the fabric can be beautiful, but that’s a risky proposition.

11:40SPOTLIGHT ON RINAT: She hasn’t gotten a direct critique from the judges yet, and she finally wants to, but in a good way hopefully. She grew up in Israel and served two years in the Israeli air force. Her great-grandfather was a tailor but died in Auschwitz, so she wants to honor his legacy. Her brand started as womenswear, but eventually expanded into gender-neutral clothing — she even dressed Billy Porter. Man, who on a design competition these days hasn’t dressed Billy Porter? “I feel like God has really prepared me for this moment. I had to eat shit before I got here,” she says.

14:20 — So how are Esther and Sabato Russo doing? They’re the non-sewers. Esther is concerned about how little time she has, though she won in “Heidi and Tim Are Back” with a look she constructed in just a couple of hours, and Sabato sewed in “Haute Couture” to honor his late mother. Sabato is afraid of this challenge, but he thinks the fear will help him grow. And Sander is willing to help other designers in need because he doesn’t want to win the competition based on someone else’s sewing skills. That Sander, he’s good people.

18:52 — Tim checks in to advise the designers, but given how pressed for time they are, he’s doing “drive-bys” instead of full consultations: This sucks, this sucks, this sucks, this is okay, this sucks, bye! Seriously, though, he digs Megan’s color blocking. He “couldn’t be happier” with how Will is pushing himself with his look. Troy is playing with tailored/oversized contrast, and Tim seems to sorta approve. Sander wants his asymmetrical look to seem almost like it was cut wrong; Tim, understandably, is worried about that approach. “It’s very you,” Tim tells Sabato, who says that Paris is bringing out the femininity of his looks. Jonny is going for “bride of Beetlejuice” and Tim’s response is, “Your confidence gives me confidence.” Rinat Brodach may not be doing enough with her top. Overall, Tim loves the grit and determination he sees around the room. That’s a lot better than the consultations in the previous challenge went.

22:40 — The pressure is getting to them. Sabato is mad that Troy changed the thread in the machine he was using. Troy (rightly I think) doesn’t want to be eliminated because he had to reserve Sabato’s machine. “Total BS, but you know something? He’s going to get what he deserves,” says Sabato. That’s a little much, I think, Sabato, but we can cut the designers some slack with the pressure they’re under.

25:10 — Jonny’s stripes aren’t quite lining up when he constructs his dress. It could turn out a little sloppy, and Rinat thinks the fabric is too much like Megan’s style. I’m worried for Jonny. That fabric might have been a deadly choice. Even if his stripes lined up, might he be in trouble for showing the judges something more representative of someone else’s aesthetic.

27:16 — Already just five minutes until the fashion show. Troy figures out that he bit off more than he can chew, so he’ll have to improvise his dress. After talking up his tailoring skills to the judges to save his skin, if they catch him taking sloppy shortcuts it might come back to haunt him.


28:09 — The judges are assembled: Heidi, Joseph, Nicole and Naomi — no Carine, who had to attend Fashion Week events.

28:34MEGAN: Nicole likes it, Heidi admires the top three-color top. So does Joseph, who appreciated the black, white and gold combo. Naomi thinks the elastic waist takes the pants from expensive to cheap, “but for one day it’s great.”

29:21RINAT: Joseph thinks it’s nicely made, but it’s “a little bland.” Heidi agrees that it’s not new, but not bad either. I think the details in the skirt really make it stand out. Nicole and Joseph think that’s the only part of the outfit that’s interesting.

30:01JI WON: It’s not Heidi’s favorite look from Ji Won, but Nicole thinks it’s cute, easy and sellable. Naomi loves the comfort value and how every woman can wear it. It’s “middle-of-the-road” for Joseph. I kinda agree. Has a leisurewear vibe that’s cool but could maybe be more flattering?

30:33JONNY: “Wow,” says Heidi. Nicole really likes it too. Joseph loves the movement. And Naomi thinks “the whole look is good.” I agree. I was worried about his problems aligning the print and using that fabric, but I can totally see the “bride of Beetlejuice” idea he was going for. Feminine but goth and sophisticated.

31:29SABATO: It’s not Nicole’s favorite dress of his, but she’d totally wear it. Joseph doesn’t think he took a risk, but he was true to himself. Heidi thinks it’s boring, though.

31:59TROY: Heidi thinks it looks like someone rolled with it in bed and that the jacket is ill-fitting. Naomi says the proportions of the jacket are weird. She has the model it off and show off the dress underneath, which Heidi doesn’t think has much of any design to it. Sounds like Troy might be toast unless someone else is a complete disaster because this was supposed to be his second chance and his tailoring that he said was so great isn’t so great.

32:50SANDER: Naomi likes it. Joseph thinks it’s interesting, full of imagination but also commercial and wearable. Heidi appreciates it, but it’s a little too complicated to be a sellable look. I’m impressed by how much imagination and technique he showed in so little time.

33:37WILL: Joseph thinks there’s a “taste-level problem.” Nicole says the top could have been good but can’t believe he had the gall to make those pants. They hate it, but I’m not mad at it. The top is a little messy, but I think the pants are pretty cool. On the plus side, it gives the judges an idea of who he is as a designer, which might save him.

34:25ESTHER: Naomi thinks the waist is “heaven” and the silhouette is “divine.” Nicole thinks it’s “stunning.” It’s hard to believe Esther has ever had difficulty with sewing. This look is pretty much perfect, and she made it in seven hours. She might win her third challenge.


36:42 — Rinat gets the first critique. Joseph likes the way she rethinks women’s workwear. Heidi thinks it’s not original, but that women would still want to buy it. Naomi thinks Rinat is capable of more, though. She played it safe. Nicole also wanted a more effortless feel that wasn’t so stiff. Joseph doesn’t have a clear sense of what she’s about, but Rinat makes the cut.

38:20 — Megan hears from the judges next. Heidi and Naomi wouldtotally  buy that look. Naomi even likes the pants now that she’s heard Megan’s “sophisticated Fly Girl” idea. Joseph says it’s “effortless,” reflected Megan but also pushed the envelope. She makes the cut too, which was an easy call.

39:45 — Here’s Jonny! Naomi “loved the ease … I’m very proud of you, Jonny.” Nicole admires that he has taken their notes, and she wants to buy it. Joseph is also gratified to see his evolution. Heidi says it’s simple but “a head-turner.” It could have gone circus, but it’s “perfect.” Indeed, Jonny is the winner of the challenge! Kudos! What a great way to rebound after he was nearly eliminated in “Haute Couture.”

42:03 — Uh-oh, Troy is called before the judges. Naomi doesn’t think he sounds sure of what he’s doing, and his clothes look “unsure” too. “It would be my nightmare to have to model that outfit,” Naomi says about the awkward way the dress fit (or didn’t fit) into the sleeve of the jacket. Joseph’s biggest problem was that they haven’t seen anything of a clear brand from him. Nicole doesn’t have a clear sense of his aesthetic either. Troy tells them he needs to be here because its his last shot, so this execution is gonna be brutal because he’s definitely getting eliminated. “Hunger Games” would almost be kinder. Indeed, Troy doesn’t make the cut. But Heidi assures him that it’s not his last shot: “The world is your oyster.”

45:36 — Let’s see if there’s just one elimination or two. Will’s critique is next. Nicole tells him the pants were a bad idea, though she liked the top. Heidi thinks his looks have all been too disco, not modern. Joseph gets his party-girl aesthetic, but he “lacks sophistication and refinement.” Naomi blasts him by saying, “I’ve had a problem with you for every assignment.” The judges say he’s not making the cut unless he changes their minds … which he doesn’t, Will is eliminated too, which just leaves seven designers in the competition.

48:42 — “I could only just stand true to myself and what I love to make, and I did that and I’m f*cking proud of everything I did. It’s not the last that people will hear from me,” says Will. I honestly don’t think he should have been eliminated for that look. Esther is emotional since Will has a special place in her heart; they were partnered in “Collaboration,” where the judges thought Will dragged down her looks.

49:01 — “If somebody doesn’t deserve to be here, then they won’t,” says Heidi. “We really are trying to find the best of the best.” I do wish the tone of the judging on this show were a little softer. The sense that the losing designers have deeply offended them is kinda heavy. It’s not like they just lost the competition or had a bad day, it’s like they’re flat-out unworthy of fashion.

49:40 — Just as the designers were starting to feel settled in Paris, “Pack your bags,” says Heidi. “We’re going to Tokyo!” The designers are thrilled at the news, so at least this episode has a somewhat happy ending after the really emotional double elimination. They’re leaving tomorrow. And we will see them in next week’s episodes, which will premiere on April 10.

More News from GoldDerby