In the final two episodes of Making the Cut season 2, the final three also became the show’s finalists, as the judges sent Gary Graham, Andrea Pitter, and Andrea Salazar to the final challenge. The $1 million and other prizes went to Making the Cut season 2 winner Andrea Pitter, whose Pantora collection is now on Amazon. So, too, are collections by the two runners-up, as Amazon decided to give both Gary and Andrea S. that prize, too.
While these designers—all three of whom I interviewed below—created some great work, the show itself was far less successful. Making the Cut set Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn free, jetting around the world on Amazon’s dime and having fun during season one. Not so much during season two.
“This all is very somber,” Heidi Klum said during the premiere, and while she was referring to the designers’ first looks, that could have also been the season-two tagline. Bravo’s Top Chef, which was also filmed in in the fall of 2020, used the constraints to create its best season ever. Making the Cut just became a middling Project Runway knock-off.
The first season of Making the Cut certainly wasn’t perfect, but almost everything I liked about it—its dramatic runway locations, its focus on the creative process, judges Naomi Campbell and Nicole Richie—went away for season two.
Some of that was inevitable because of the circumstances, but the show didn’t figure out how to creatively work around the restrictions. Instead of living in international fashion destinations, the contestants just took a few field trips to familiar outdoor locations in the L.A. area. They were otherwise locked down at the Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, California, which looks nice but is just not comparable to the scale of season one.
The worst parts of the Amazon fashion competition remained, like the eliminations where Heidi polled new judges Winnie Harlow and Jeremy Scott about whether they’ve changed their mind, and I have definitely not changed my mind about how annoying those are.
There were fewer contestants, fewer episodes, and fewer days. Even Tim’s advice felt curtailed and perfunctory, at least in the editing.
Season two did have a strong cast overall, and some of the designers created interesting looks during the season, despite a collection of uninspired challenges. The three finalists had just four days to create a 10-look collection and create a presentation for Amazon, and considering that constraint, did quite well. It’s just too bad they did that in a show that became so forgettable.
Making the Cut season 2
A deflated, somber second season that now just seems like a weak Project Runway knock-off. C+
Making the Cut season 2 finalists interviews
Andrea S. was the second runner-up. The judges loved her concept store and its “Instagrammable experience,” and Heidi Klum said, “For sure, a lot of people would buy her clothes.”
It has a lot of environments, and helps to inspire you for the collection—and of course all the production that they did with their runways was amazing.
…[were] very helpful. I mean, of course, in this industry, you have your point of view. … it’s subjective. For me, it was more like learning from them, because they have more experience, they have more years in the industry. So for me, it was very valuable advice to have these recognized people talking to me and talking about my work. I felt inspired, I felt very honored to receive this feedback.
I didn’t feel like they were loving or hating my work; I felt their opinion was very neutral until the end. Theyhave to talk about all our work; they cannot have favorites. … You don’t take it personally, you’ve got to be professional in this industry. But that was their job to judge us. So, for me it wasn’t something like, Oh my god, they hurt my feelings. No, I’m gonna improve, I’m gonna do this, and for me it was great.
As he wrote on the wall text of his concept store, “Graham designs intimate collections drawn from local histories, using vintage and antique textiles as well as jacquards and wovens from domestic mills.” That approach led Gary to win the most challenges of any designer in the competition, but as he said toward the end of the show, “It just doesn’t matter how many wins you have,” because the final collection is what matters, and he ultimately became the first runner-up.
I was just so happy to get out of Franklin, New York, for a while. It’s funny, because you have these dreams, you have these goals. One goal I always had was: I want to move to L.A. and work for there for a season, and design a collection there, or I want to do a residency program so I can focus on my work. I was really approaching it feeling that feeling of: this is a great opportunity to focus on work.
His concept store, garygraham422:
I really believed in what I did, I was frustrated it didn’t really translate as well. … I feel like I let go of some constraints, and maybe should have fought harder for … I have to take responsibility for that. [The store] really contains a lot of ideas at once; all the imagery we saw was really supposed to be projections related to the clothing, so when the when the customer comes in, it’s really this whole experience of stepping into a story, and being able to take something from that story out into the world.
Seeing his Making the Cut outfits for sale and out in the world:
I’m taking what I created and that narrative and I’m creating another narrative out of it. And then people are now making their own narratives because they’re sending me DM photos of them in the dresses, like in Africa with an elephant, creating these other stories. so I really believed in what I did, I just, I was frustrated and like really translate as well as I wished.
The judging, and whether he thought the judges were trying to encourage him to change what he did:
If you’re a creator and something’s not translating for whatever reason, I can’t blame the viewer, or I can’t blame the judge; it’s not hitting the mark. I did have experiences on the show where I hit the mark. That’s the challenge of being part of something that you want to communicate to the world. I would have never got on the airplane if I didn’t care about communicating my ideas to a large group of people. So I appreciate that question. I just didn’t feel like I was in a position to really take their criticism and get frustrated with it. I really just took it as, like, I just need to get to the next to the next step and I really need to listen to it. What am I missing here?
The Making the Cut experience and crew:
I’m finally allowed to talk about it, so it’s probably just going to all rush out. I really feel like [pauses, gets emotional] Sorry. The thing that people don’t see is they think like, oh Amazon production, reality TV, but what they don’t get to see are all the people working on the show, and you’re part of this bigger family. That’s really important.
During the competition, bridal designer Andrea won just one challenge, though she in the top four other times. As she said late in the show, “It’s about the war, not the battle,” and ultimately she emerged victorious, winning $1 million to develop her brand.
Her expectations for the show:
I went into this with very little expectation besides winning. That’s the only thing that I expected. I was like, You need to work like you’re going to win. … I didn’t want to give myself an idea of what this was going to be about, because I thought it would restrict the actual experience. So every single day we woke up and we had to get to work, everything felt new because I didn’t tell myself a story about what it would be like.
Not winning earlier challenges:
At the end of episode five, going into episode six, I started to kind of get a little bit frustrated and defeated. I gave myself pep talks–I give myself the best pep talks. … I had to remind myself that I don’t have to win each thing, but I am being seen and I am being acknowledged for my efforts.
The concept store and having resources:
The thing is that you have to turn a little into a lot. I’ve always been really, really resourceful, even without resources. Being able to even do a pop up store of that magnitude, it made me emotional because I think of how I spend my money regularly; I spend it on turning my business into the best business that it could be. And so being able to really like focus on aesthetic and just what it looks like is really, really, really awesome. … I have to think about the product, I have to think about the customer service, I have to think about a lot of things, and because that wasn’t the first thing on my plate, especially building the business—it was nice to kind of let go and be a little loose with other people’s money. It was nice!
On her new collection that’s for sale on Amazon:
I’m ready for everyone to see it and enjoy it. I had such a good time just creating it in a different way than I do bridal. Bridal is very like fantastical, and it’s one of those things that I make very special because you’ll only wear it one time, and now I get this opportunity to make something really special because you’ll get to wear it lots of times, and you’ll get to feel joy on many occasions. So, this is different in a good way.
On the prizes she’s received, including a mentorship with Amazon Fashion:
The gift of perspective is so good. Because of the way I had to grow my business, just having other eyes and ears and people who have legitimate experience guiding me, I don’t know how you put a value on that. The money is really nice—and I’m not willing to just give it away!—but the mentorship is where it’s at.