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I did not love Making the Cut as I did not love Project Runway before it and for similar reasons: they favour the least interesting designers, who for some mysterious reason are almost always white.
I’ll admit straight up that I only watched two seasons of Project Runway and bowed out once they got rid of the interesting designers. So I’m not an expert on that show. Maybe it got better.
My reaction to Making the Cut was also coloured by having watched Next In Fashion shortly before it, which I loved. LOVED.
What was so refreshing about Next was that most of the interesting designers made it deep into the competition and the best designer won! Honestly, I almost fainted.
Also there was an episode on Next In Fashion where they actually discussed whether the judges might have some racial bias, and then they changed their decision because of it. I had to watch it again to believe it.
There were zero discussions of race or class or gender or anything else on Making the Cut. I felt like it’d gone back in time.
Next touched on issues around sustainability–not nearly enough–but Making never discussed fashion’s horrendous impact on the planet. The words organic, sustainable, circular economy, recycling, pollution were never mentioned. Unlike the seasons of Project Runway I watched which had a recycling challenge.
All the winning looks were available primarily in synthetics, which damage the planet in production, as well as every single time they’re washed. And those clothes were available for price points so low, there’s no way everyone in the supply and production chain were paid fairly.
The ethics of fashion was never discussed. On either show.
The winning collection from Next was also primarily synthetic and, while more expensive than Making, the prices were still too low for everyone involved to be paid fairly.
I loved that Next, especially in the latter episodes, showed far more of the process of designing and making the clothes, which is what these shows are supposedly about. I want to see more of them sweating the designs. I wanted more process. I wanted more of them dealing with one another. I really felt that I knew the Next contestants–far more than those on Making.
Making seemed to think viewers would be more interested in Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum fencing. This viewer was not remotely interested in the Tim and Heidi antics. Though I did enjoy watching Tim pack. I love seeing neat and tidy people being neat and tidy. Organisation is hot. I wish there was a show entirely devoted to different packing techniques from around the world. Ask me how I feel about Marie Kondo. #Swoon
Ultimately I don’t think Making the Cut knew what it was. It was looking for the next global brand and kept emphasising accessibility, but then designers would not make the cut for lack of originality.
Yet the show was won by one of the least interesting designers. Megan, who was cut, had everything they claimed Johnny had: her clothes were accessible, comfortable, and could be worn by a wide variety of body types. She was the one designer who fit the show’s unstated parameters: make clothes that look cool but not too intimidating. Be edgy but accessible.
I was not wild about Esther’s clothes. I don’t like all black. To me it screams arrested development. Leaven it with colour. You’ll look better. Truly.
That said, I thought her last collection was by far her best. She was robbed. As was Sander. Both of them deserved to win. And so did Megan.
In my reboot, Naomi Campbell is the only judge I’d keep. I loved her, not least for fighting for Megan. I’m not wild about Heidi, she reminds me of all the blonde school bullies I dealt with, but she redeemed herself by voting for Esther.
I’m waiting for the fashion design contest that looks for the most sustainable designs produced in the most ethical way. That lays bare the entire supply chain. We got to see that Johnny has his clothes made in Indonesia, but there was no discussion of why. That why is huge.
Watching these shows in the midst of a global pandemic, where there’s a huge campaign to get the biggest fashion brands in the world to actually pay their suppliers for clothes already made, so that garment workers in Bangladesh etc don’t starve to death, well, both Next in Fashion and Making the Cut seemed like they were set in Fairyland.