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Making the Cut season 3’s winner had never watched! An interview with the designer

Making the Cut season 3’s winner had never watched! An interview with the designer
Making the Cut season 3 finalist Rafael Chaouiche, winner Yannik Zamboni, and finalist Georgia Hardinge. (Photo by Prime Video)

Making the Cut season three’s winner has been revealed after eight episodes of the Amazon Prime Video fashion competition, which produced everything from a judge’s meltdown to wearable clothes that are now on sale.

While the final three—Rafael Chaouiche, Georgia Hardinge, and Yannik Zamobin—all produced great collections, the judges heaped praise on the winner, Yannik Zamboni, and his wildly creative looks.

Browsing his concept store in the episode seven, judge Heidi Klum said, “When I look at this, I feel like Yannik is right now.” During his final visit with the designers, Tim Gunn told Yannik, “I have chills. This is stunning.” Later, Nicole Richie told him, “every piece, it just kept getting better and better. … You bleed authenticity.”

Yannik won the $1 million and now has two collections up on Amazon, one inspired by his final runway and a second collection called Rare/Self.

Runner-up Rafael Chaouiche also received a mentorship from Amazon Fashion, and his vivdly colorful collection, Chaouiche, is for sale on Amazon, too. Third-place Georgia Hardinge did not get a collection, though her episode-six winning look is for sale.

I spoke with Yannik yesterday about everything from how he was recruited by casting producers to why some of his tattoos were covered.

Making the Cut host Heidi Klum, season three winner Yannik Zamboni, and host/mentor Tim Gunn
Making the Cut host Heidi Klum, season three winner Yannik Zamboni, and host/mentor Tim Gunn. (Photo by Prime Video)

First, a few thoughts about the season. To be honest, I wasn’t overly excited about Making the Cut returning.

I loved season one, but the second season somewhat dour, even depressing. Locked down in a resort in Los Angeles, it lost all of the globetrotting fun and the inspiration that came from being in different locations. Even the workroom felt smaller, though there was still some great fashion produced in that environment.

Season one wasn’t perfect, but felt free of Project Runway’s cable TV constraints, and Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn were having fun doing what they’d always wanted to. Alas, that gave way to Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn fronting a weak Project Runway knock-off.

Thankfully, Making the Cut season three managed do a 180 and head back toward the fun of season one. While the production stayed in Los Angeles, it was not as weighed down.

The season began with Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum walking down through Beverly Hills doing some scripted banter, and were interrupted by a van of celebrity-spotting, super-excited tourists.

Heidi and Tim then pretended to impulsively decide that Rodeo Drive should be their first runway location, and the scene ended with a shot of them from behind, a huge production apparatus and a bunch of people visible, with Tim laughing, “Totally unrehearsed, all spontaneous.”

That won me back, as did some of the first-episode looks, which started with Jeanette Limas’s cracked-flour garments and Yannik’s conceptual design, including one outfit he described as “a little trashy—it’s okay.”

Meanwhile, Nicole Richie came back to judge, alongside both Heidi Klum and Jeremy Scott. I thought Nicole’s judging was one of the best parts of season one, so it was a thrill to have her return.

Alas, the judging stuck with that inane process of Heidi asking both of the if they’d changed their mind, and I really wish the producers would change their mind about that.

This season also really challenged the contestants with time management, as they had multiple one-day challenges in which they had to create a runway look and a wearable look for Amazon, and between those the producers threw in a seven-hour challenge.

Yannik on winning season three

Making the Cut season three winner Yannik Zamboni in the workroom with host and mentor Tim Gunn
Making the Cut season three winner Yannik Zamboni in the workroom with host and mentor Tim Gunn. (Photo by Jason Clark/Prime Video)

Yannik Zamboni did not apply for Making the Cut season three, because he’d never heard of it.

“To be honest, I didn’t know the show. Prime Video is not that famous in Europe like this in the US,” he told me. “So I actually just had this casting agency asking me to apply.”

His response, at first, was hesitation. “Do I want to go to TV? I don’t know if that’s the right thing. It was really hard thinking about it. And then I saw the trailer with Heidi Klum, the $1 million, obviously, and I had the feeling that they’re not trying to do this typical reality TV thing. It’s really about the business, about developing a business, about designers. This gave me motivation to actually do something, to be able to grow my business, so I applied.”

Yannik told me the time constraints were how Making the Cut challenged him the most. “I never had to do in this short amount of time something—or anything,” he said. “In the beginning, it was super-stressful—just in your head knowing [there] was two days. I was already super stressed out—and then seven hours to create a look. And then one day to create two looks!”

He said that helped him go to the “first best idea you have in your head, instead of thinking for three days, and then sketching and stuff like that.”

During the competition, Yannik told me his process “did change a lot,” as he had to “trust your intuition and make faster decisions, because we never had a lot of time to to think about everything. We had to make the decision really quick.”

Also having an effect: having to consider the wearable looks. “What does accessible mean to people? This really helped my decision-making and designing.”

The designers who won challenges had another time crunch: converting their wearable looks into sellable garments for Amazon. “This also happened in a very short amount of time, because we were doing that while filming,” Yannik said. “This was happening when you have one assignment” and “in about the same amount of time we had for our other looks.”

Yannik, who’s based in Zurich, Switzerland, is a very conceptual designer, and work full-time on his brand maison blanche, which his bio says:

…pushes the conversation of various sociopolitical issues and addresses taboo topics by means of conceptual fashion. His brand’s subversive content is reflected in deconstructed designs and aims to expand the rules of conduct. Yannik and his brand believe that sustainability is divided into four important spheres: ethical and moral, socio-political, ecological, and economical, which must all be respected and adhered to.”

During the month the final three designers had to create their collections and their concept stores, they filmed themselves, but Yannik said they were not alone.

“All the contestants had apartment[s] in the same building,” Yannik told me. “So we still had contact with each other. I’m pretty close with Georgia. We showed each other sketches, and we went even together fabric shopping. We did stuff together pretty much every day, even if it was just for smoking cigarettes. We always had feedback.”

He said, “I think it’s very important to not get lost in your own head and have direct feedback from someone else.”

Speaking of feedback: In episode five, the designers had to create festival wear, and that did not go super-well, at least judging by the temper-tantrum from judge Jeremy Scott, who yelled at the contestants, “You want to know what I wrote in my book. Nothing!” He slammed his notebook to the ground and yelled “I’m pissed off!” (I hope a PA gave him a juice box and/or a time out.)

I asked Yannik about that moment, because he was the designer standing in front of Jeremy during that tirade, even though Jeremy said it wasn’t directed at him.

“People reacted pretty strongly; they went wild. Switzerland is nine hours ahead, so when people saw that, I was sleeping, so I saw it in the morning when I wake up, I saw my Instagram and I’m like, Uh oh, what happened now? Okay, episode five is out.”

“I posted on my Instagram account that people [should] calm down and spread love, not hate. Yeah, we are all really emotional people. I think Jeremy really tried to get the best out of us, and it really helped us at the end of the day to showcase better designs and really, really go for it.”

I asked Yannik about a minor mystery: What tattoos did he have to cover for television? “Some were super simple, like a QR code,” he told me. Also, “I have a beer can on the back of my arm.”

The QR code actually works, and while it usually points to his website, he’s redirected it to his Instagram account now.

Yannik was in New York City when we talked, and he’s getting ready for yet another runway: showing a new collection at New York Fashion Week next week. And today his two collections are on sale for the first time, and he’s curious to see the results.

“We’ll see when my collection is out and we’re selling if it was just appreciation of me and the art, or if people actually want to wear those clothes I’m creating.”

I have a hunch it’ll be both.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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