Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn on Making 'Making the Cut' Happen During the Pandemic

by Steve Duffy

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday July 27, 2021
Originally published on July 22, 2021

Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum on 'Making the Cut.'
Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum on 'Making the Cut.'  (Source:Amazon)

The Daily Beast described "Making the Cut," Amazon's reality series that brings together 10 designers to compete for a top prize of $1,000,000 for their winner's fashion brand, as "the most ambitious and grandest-scale fashion competition the reality TV genre had ever seen."

When it first appeared in 2020, co-hosts Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn traveled the world to visit the contestants and see their creations. Having the hosts travel plus the million-dollar prize gave the series a higher profile than "Project Runway," the series that first brought Klum and Gunn together.

It also had the added value of giving viewers an opportunity to purchase the fashions that appear on the show. "Designers would be tasked with producing an 'accessible' version of each look for every challenge, with the winning garments made available immediately for purchase on Amazon at a price point of $100 or less," the Daily Beast detailed.

But as they prepared for Season 2, the pandemic happened, which led the production team to rethink their globe-trotting approach. Instead, they created a "bubble" for the production in Malibu, bringing the contestants an event venue in Malibu, typically set up for weddings, that is transformed into various settings for the show.

'Making the Cut' judges Jeremy Scott and Winnie Harlow.  (Source: Amazon Prime)

There is also the addition of new judges, designer Jeremy Scott and model Winnie Harlow. "Unlike last season," adds the Daily Beast, "which saw the likes of Naomi Campbell, Nicole Richie, Carine Roitfeld, and Joseph Altuzarra rotate in different episodes around the world, because of pandemic protocols, Scott and Harlow judged the entire season—an opportunity they relished."

Klum and Gunn were first paired in 2004 on "Project Runway," with Klum as host and as one of the judges and Gunn as the mentor to the contestants. Sixteen years later, they left the show. Last week, Gunn penned a heartfelt letter to his "television wife" thanking her for their time together that was published in Good Housekeeping.

He recalled how they had snuck out for champagne at every opportunity during the 2013 Emmy Awards, only to win. "Hand-in-hand and shrieking, we ran to the stage. I planted a big kiss on Neil Patrick Harris, the presenter, and then on you," Gunn recounts in his letter. "Neither of us can recall what we said into the microphone other than 'thank you!' Backstage, we had to pull ourselves together for the press, which only caused us to cascade into more laughter. What a night!"

He continued: "Now with 'Making the Cut,' we get to do what we love most: help find and promote the next global fashion brand while enjoying each other's company. On 'that-other-show,' our roles were entirely separate and discreet. ... We're an odd couple, indeed, but with incomparable chemistry."

EDGE spoke to the pair about the new season of "Making the Cut."

Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum on 'Making the Cut.'  

EDGE: How does this season differ from Season One?

Heidi Klum: Shooting anything or working in a pandemic definitely isn't the easiest. We had to follow a lot of rules, which we were happy to follow because [we] did not want to jeopardize someone's health over it. We were very respectful in the sense that we came to work early [and] we worked super late. Everything was washed, even the mic pads when they were moving around. So everyone had to do a little extra work than they normally did in order to make it work.

And we couldn't travel this year. We couldn't go to Europe, to Paris, to the Eiffel Tower, to Tokyo, New York, and LA like we did last year. And we had already an amazing roadmap planned out of where we were going for this next season. Obviously, with the pandemic, we couldn't do that. But still, once we get the green light to film, we're like, 'Okay, where can we make this safely?' So we said we're going to do it in Malibu, here in California, and we're going to have all the designers come to us. We're just gonna be in this bubble.

We have people from all over the place coming to us, and they bring their different essence of who they are and who they want to design for, and what their brand is all about. So I feel like it didn't really suffer because we didn't get to travel. These people are special people. We're excited that we get to showcase the art that they [are] creating for people around the world that will be seen around the world — we are being seen in over 200 countries.

The designers create shoppable looks in every episode, so the show is great for the designer because they can make money. And it is great for the customer because they can get a little part of it. Isn't it annoying when you watch something and you're like, 'Oh my gosh, I want it. Where do I get it?' Now they can head over to Amazon Fashion and order. Two days later, it's there. So there's instant gratification. It's full circle. Everybody can get something from it, instead of just the entertainment part of it.

Heidi Klum on 'Making the Cut.'  

EDGE: What is what makes a good designer?

Tim Gunn: Well, it takes a very particular point of view that differentiates that designer from everybody else. Heidi is always talking about cutting through the noise, and you have to be able to do that with who you are as a designer. You have to have a brand vision. It can't just be a pretty dress. You have to have business savvy, and enough business savvy to know that it takes a team for your brand to be successful. Marketing, advertising, merchandising, and of course, that business savvy. And you have to be resilient. You have to be able to bounce back if obstacles are thrown in your path — and they will be. And of course, overriding all of this is an incredible passion. The notion that I can't live if I don't do this. It's a lot.

Heidi Klum: To me, it is something that makes me stop in my tracks. Where it's like, 'I have to have that. Why hasn't anyone thought of that?' Someone that gives you a little something new. Because otherwise, they are not a designer to me. It's like, 'Okay, you can make nice T-shirts, and then they come in five different colors. So what?' It needs to be something that we all have not seen before. People get influenced by so many different designs and sculptures, art, and things they see on the street; whatever it may be. But whatever it is, it needs to be something new. We all want something new, because otherwise, why are people paying money for that?

Winnie Harlow and Heidi Klum on 'Making the Cut.'  

EDGE: And having the new judges, Jeremy and Winnie — what did you feel they brought to the table that was different?

Heidi Klum: Winnie is a supermodel. She is, you know, fresh, new, she [is] everywhere. She is kind of like the "it girl" of fashion. She is beautiful. She has her finger on the pulse. Every designer is dressing her. I remember when I was modeling many years ago, I felt a little ahead of the game because when you shoot the editorials for the magazines, there's always so much lead time and you get to see so many things before anyone. So Winnie gets to see a ton of new stuff from everywhere.

And Jeremy is just one of the great designers out there. He has an amazing imagination. So you can make the most unusual, sculptural dresses, but then he can also take the essence of his art and turn it into a T-shirt or into a pair of pants, and it's never boring. It's still fashion, and this is ultimately like who these designers want to be.

EDGE: As a final question, you are always dressed impeccably. But I mean, on a Sunday afternoon, like, what is your go-to comfort thing to wear?

Heidi Klum: Well, I live in California, so it's a swim outside by the pool of barbecuing in my swimsuit and a hat.

Tim Gunn: And the pandemic cured me of my disdain for comfort clothes. I'm now happily ensconced in a pair of sweatpants.

Heidi Klum: We still want to see that photo.

"Making the Cut" airs on Amazon Prime.