‘Making the Cut’ premiere recap: ‘Heidi and Tim Are Back,’ but how does it compare to ‘Project Runway’?

Making the Cut” premiered on Friday, March 27, with its first two episodes. Starring Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, who jumped ship from “Project Runway” after that show’s 16th season, this fashion competition brings together 12 accomplished designers from around the world who compete for $1 million and a chance to sell their collections worldwide on Amazon. So who stood out in episode one, “Heidi and Tim Are Back,” and who failed to make the cut? Find out with our minute-by-minute analysis and hot takes in our series premiere recap below.

0:30 — As the episode title says, “Heidi and Tim Are Back” at the start of “Making the Cut.” “It’s a beautiful morning!” says Heidi in the rain. “I’m so happy we’re together!” Tim exclaims. I dunno, seems like they’re happy. They handpicked the designers for this new global show, but will it be as good as the pretty great season of “Project Runway” that just ended? Time will tell.

1:36 — Heidi and Tim are ambushing the designers at their New York City hotel, and the designers don’t know they’re coming. But Martha Gottwald from Richmond, Virginia, looks like she absolutely knew someone was coming to her door. She’s had full hair, makeup and wardrobe done. Esther Perbandt from Germany looks a little less prepared, she’s “a little on the naked side.” Megan Smith from Kansas City, Kansas, has a bit of a “WTF are you doing here right now” face. Sabato Russo from Italy seems totally chill in his bathrobe. Some of these designers look very extra right out of the gate, like Will Riddle from Paris, Ohio, with his sheer shirt and sash. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

3:52 — Heidi and Tim welcome the designers to the show, who already had their own brands. They want a designer who can build the next global fashion brand. The winner will get a mentorship to grow their business and get to create a collection that will be accessible on Amazon. Jonny Cota from Los Angeles finds it “thrilling” to get that platform. And “let’s talk about the moolah!” says Heidi. The winner will also get $1 million. “It’s a million f*cking dollars,” says Will. “Can I say f*ck?” I mean, this is Amazon, so he should be able to say f*ck, but they bleep him anyway. Spoilsports.

5:04 — Their first fashion show will be a night under the lights in the heart of the city, “but not this city,” teases Heidi. They’re flying to Paris, for their first challenge. Their first show will be in front of the Eiffel Tower. That’s kind of a baller move for this show right out of the gate. The most extravagant destination on “Runway” this season was the Vessel in New York City. But locales alone do not a great fashion show make. Make it work, “MTC”! The winner of this assignment and all assignments will have one of their looks immediately available to buy on Amazon.

7:20 — Martha continues to make a strong impression with her frilly shoulders, pink heart carry-on bag, sailor hat, gigantic sunglasses and butterfly shoes on their way to the airport — “Little girl from the south, here I go!” Sander Bos is amused. He’s from Belgium, so it would’ve just been a three-hour drive to Paris for him. Instead he had to fly to NY and fly back. But it’s Will’s first time in Europe ever. He’s from Paris, but the one in Ohio, not France. It has a population of about 800 people, so it’s super exclusive. That said, he has worked for brands including Oscar de la Renta, so he’s no slouch. Josh Hupper sees their workroom once they arrive in the City of Lights, and it’s exactly what he thought a Parisian atelier would look like. I kinda wish Delvin McCray from “Runway” could see this since he was obsessed with French ateliers.

THE ASSIGNMENT — Tim arrives to give the designers their first fashion show challenge. They’ll present two looks that represent their brand identity. Since one of the looks will be sold on Amazon, one look must be accessible. The other needs to be a boundary-pushing runway look. The designers are responsible for making their designs, but everyone will be assigned a seamstress who will work through the night on the basics. So that’s one big difference from “Project Runway.” Design will be the central focus here, and they’ll get a helping hand with construction. But that raises the bar. Esther hasn’t sewn much even though she has had a brand for a decade, so she’s down with this format. But like “Project Runway,” the designers have only two days to make their looks.

12:20 — The designers get inspiration from Paris itself. Esther has been inspired by Berlin and Moscow in addition to Paris fashion. She has no children or spouse, so her brand is her baby. “I’m the queen of black in Berlin,” she says. We see a montage of her in some of her black looks. She says it’s for strong personalities, and she’s not kidding. Very “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” I dig it.

15:01 — Fabric shopping in Paris. Esther wants all-black, no surprise. Martha definitely does not want black. Her aesthetic is “bright and funky and pretty loud … always be extra.” Shades of Hester Sunshine? Jasmine Chong from Malaysia is having trouble finding layering fabrics. She’s making a silk sheer gown, and she’s worried it’ll be “too racy.” Color me intrigued.

HEIDI AND TIM IN PARIS — They couldn’t do fashion without coming to Paris, Tim explains as he and Heidi stroll through the streets. Tim finds the city titillating. Heidi has never heard that word before. Pardon his French.

18:35 — Aaaaand back to the designers, returning to the workroom. Ji Won Choi from Oklahoma, but her family moved there from South Korea. She felt so out of place that she “rejected” her heritage and even had her parents call her Rachel. But she found herself when going to school at Parsons in New York. She did a collaboration with Adidas and has shown her looks at New York and London Fashion Week. Jasmine launched her brand in 2015 and also showed at New York Fashion Week. These designers have pretty strong pedigrees, and I like how the show is setting aside a couple of minutes to profile each of them so we get a sense of them in this crowded hour with a dozen competitors in it.

19:25 — Martha is anxious about cutting her fabric. She’s already “freaking out” since she’s not used to making her own patterns. Interesting to see these advanced designers with less experience in the nitty-gritty of making clothes compared to the hands-on style of “Project Runway.” Another interesting contrast between one show and the other.

21:15 — Jonny admires the hell out of Esther right off the bat, and he thinks Sander is a “freak” … in a good way, I’m pretty sure. Josh feels like he’s at a sleepover with all his besties. Very chill workroom so far. Except Martha. She’s terrified of her scissors.

22:12 — The designers get seamstresses, but they have to give those seamstresses tech packs to give instructions for how to assemble the garments along with illustrations, threads, buttons, trims — the works. I like getting to see this side of the fashion business, which we don’t get from the one-man-band design work on “Project Runway.”

DAY TWO

23:11— Everyone digs the tech packs they got back from their seamstresses, even Martha! That’s the height of drama so far, but I don’t come to fashion competition shows for the drama, so that’s alright by me. There’s a global plague right now, I’ll take a drama-free workroom.

28:22 — Tim will be consulting with each of the designers, as he did before as “Runway” mentor. Ji Won’s interpretation of a denim jacket is “organic” and “breathes” and is “very beautiful.” But he’s worried about how much time her runway statement piece is going to take her to make. Martha’s drop-waist dress is going “too prim,” and the blend of retro with the younger girly style is a bit rough for him. But he thinks Martha is owning sophistication with her second look. Tim has Martha try on that girly look and he’s not any more confident about it. Meanwhile, Troy Hul Arnold has an “exquisite” jacket, and Josh’s plans are “brilliant” and “could be a winner.” Sabato is “seductive” with his use of silk. Sander’s looks are “sensational.” He’s “excited” about Rinat Brodach‘s look. Esther is behind, but Tim is a “believer.”

30:49 — Jasmine makes size-fluid looks that can be worn by women from 0 to 14, and Tim loved that about her. Jonny’s doing one male and one female look, and this is only the second time Tim seems concerned. The silhouette of his women’s look needs to be cooler. She’s too “sweet and prim” next to the edgy men’s designs. But Tim is on the verge of tears when he tells all of them that the next big fashion brand is absolutely in this room after consulting with them individually. I love Tim in proud papa mode.

32:31 — Martha Skypes with her husband and kids. “It’s really hard” to be without them while she’s working on the show. “I might be home after tomorrow,” she tells him, noting how stiff her competition is. But the call gives her a boost of confidence that she clearly needed. She’s sticking to her guns and rejecting Tim’s advice to her. That’s … a choice.

34:44 — Esther is a badass when it comes to her designs, but she’s having trouble with pattern-making and tech packs. She gets the other designers to help her translate “shadow of the seam” to “stitch in the ditch” to make her instructions clear for her seamstress. I kinda like “shadow of the seam” myself, sounds like an alternate title for Paul Thomas Anderson‘s “Phantom Thread.”

DAY OF THE FASHION SHOW

36: 02 — Esther’s look wasn’t finished by the seamstress the way she wanted — so the stitches are going in the ditch indeed. She has to throw out her idea and “reinvent the whole dress” in two hours. She asks Rinat for sewing help to finish up, and Rinat is happy to lend a helping hand. But Martha and Jonny seem to be confident and on-track after their rough starts. And after a flurry of activity it’s time to go to the runway.

43:06 — The first “Making the Cut” fashion show! Heidi introduces the judges: fashion designer Joseph Altuzarra, former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld, actress Nicole Richie and supermodel Naomi Campbell. The designers are flipping out over that last reveal. That’s a stacked panel of judges on a show setting its first runway in front of the Eiffel Tower. Looks like Amazon threw a bucket of money on the screen for this show. I hope it didn’t cut into Mrs. Maisel’s dress budget.

43:53MEGAN: Her black-and-white flirty bows are really cool. The “accessible” suit is interesting, I’m ambivalent about the yellow stripe down the pant legs, but I like the first look better. Heidi would rather wear the top with jeans.

45:04JI WON: Her accessible look with its black fabric and white grid looks really striking at night under all the lights. Nicole loves it. Carine thinks the white lines are too much. The white runway look is a big hit with the judges, definitely a bold statement piece, but I preferred the accessible look here.

45:57RINAT: I like her accessible black dress with the way its fabric gathers and ruffles on its one sleeve. Naomi thinks the runway look is “clean” and “elegant,” but I’m not feeling it, looks like it’s just kinda hanging off the model.

46:56WILL: His runway look is a pretty badass black dress, but Nicole thinks it’s too short. Girl, did you see the dress on Rinat’s second model? Will’s second accessible look in gold is really bold in its fabric, but it doesn’t look as flattering to me. Will is emotional about the whole experience, though and getting a hug from his models, and I can’t be mad at that. Good for him!

47:37JONNY: His runway look is lovely, a simple color with really bold sleeves on the dress. Naomi thinks the tailoring could be a little better. The accessible men’s look is fantastic. Love the zippers on the top and the wide-leg pants. I’d 100% wear that.

48:50JASMINE: Her accessible look has gorgeous fabric, but it might be too simple. Nicole says she doesn’t know what it is. The open back just looks kinda loose. But the sheer runway gown is pretty hot. The judges don’t get it. The see-through look may be a little too risque for them, but I think it has a dramatic effect that works. Judges are definitely not into how sheer it is. They hated this pair of looks. Sounds like she’s going home unless someone else face-plants hard.

49:33JOSH: His off-the-shoulder runway look is pretty cool. Heidi likes … the model. But not the outfit. Again, too simple. His accessible look is actually a lot more dramatic, and I really like how it’s divided between two contrasting fabrics. But Heidi doesn’t think the looks were cohesive. I think she’s right about that.

50:03TROY: His runway look has a lot going on, but I think it’s all good. Cool jacket, huge pop of color with that print top. The accessible look doesn’t have quite as much shape, though.

51:09MARTHA: Her runway look has a clear design identity, but the baby blue bow and blue skirt read very infant to me. Tim Gunn thinks it was smart to pair it with sneakers, and I agree. Grows it up a bit, gives it more of an edgy street impression. Sorta. It’s not Joseph’s thing, but he gets it. Naomi isn’t a fan of the accessible look with just fabric tied around the bust. Nicole isn’t mad at it, though, and I agree with Nicole. There are ideas there.

51:55SABATO: His runway look could come off as just a big black sheet, but there’s a sleekness to it I like. The accessible look is similar, but has a sexier sheen on the dress. I dig it.

52:51SANDER: His blue runway look with the pole through one shoulder is … interesting. Do I like it? Ask me again in an hour. Do I want to see more from him? Kinda, yeah. The accessible look isn’t what I would call accessible, but it’s pretty fabulous and weird and great use of bold red color. Joseph thinks it’s innovative, but he seems to have mixed feelings.

53:49ESTHER: Moment of truth with her barely-finished accessible look. It’s a solid, flattering, wearable look though, so I think she made it work. The runway look is less clean, has a lot of fabric hanging around the top, can’t decide how much I like it, but it’s definitely not a fail. She’ll be fine.

JUDGING

55:57 — Heidi explains that multiple people may be sent home after a fashion show. “If we don’t think you have what it takes, you’re not going to make the cut.”

58:26 — Jasmine’s up first, and this could be rough. Joseph didn’t think size inclusivity translated to the two pieces. Heidi didn’t understand what she was all about either. Naomi liked the model she chose; Jasmine wanted to showcase that fold of flesh on her back. But Naomi thought the green sheer look was in poor taste. None of the judges have changed their minds, though, and right off the bat Jasmine is eliminated from the competition. That was pretty brutal and abrupt.

1:02:03 — Martha’s next for the firing squad. The judges had mixed feelings: Naomi thinks the tied-around-the-bust look didn’t work as well as Martha wanted. Heidi wouldn’t want to buy it either, but she sees her place in the market. Nicole really liked the jumpsuit, though. Joseph wishes Martha had committed more to her bold aesthetic. But after the longest of pregnant pauses, Martha has made the cut and remains in the competition.

1:04:18 — Heidi loved both of Ji Won’s looks. Carine liked the second white one. Naomi also prefers the white look. Joseph felt the looks were cohesive. Yep, she has pretty easily made the cut, and for good reason.

1:07:21 — Esther gets her critiques, explains her freak-out over the seamstress mishap. The accessible dress took her two hours to make, but Heidi thought it was “incredible.” Naomi thought both looks were “amazing.” Nicole would wear them. So would Heidi.

1:08:00 — Ji Won and Esther were the judges’ favorites. And this week’s challenge winner is …Esther! Suffice it to say she makes the cut too.

All in all, this was an interesting departure for Heidi and Tim to take on their post-“Project Runway” journey. The production is crisp and polished, and the workroom is nicely drama-free. Less focus on construction shifts the focus to the process of design, though I do wish we could at least meet the seamstresses, who did their work entirely off-screen. It would be interesting to see what Esther’s struggled with on her tech pack and why.

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