'Project Runway' Hosts Return With 'Making The Cut' — Conspicuously On Amazon

Mar 30, 2020
Originally published on March 30, 2020 8:11 pm
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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Nothing calms the nerves quite like something familiar. Well, fans of the long-running fashion competition "Project Runway," take heart. If you've been missing hosts Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, they are back - this time in a new Amazon show called "Making The Cut." NPR's pop culture correspondent Linda Holmes says there is a lot to like.

LINDA HOLMES, BYLINE: We find Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum on a New York sidewalk in the rain, approaching each other with giddy glee.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MAKING THE CUT")

HEIDI KLUM: It's a beautiful morning.

TIM GUNN: Always with you.

KLUM: Finally, it's happening.

GUNN: I know. It's thrilling. I'm so happy we're together again.

KLUM: And I don't even care it's raining. It's perfect.

GUNN: (Laughter).

HOLMES: After leaving "Project Runway" two years ago, Gunn and Klum set out to make something new with Amazon, one of the big players in the exploding world of streaming television. The new show, now available on Prime Video, has a lot of familiar elements. Designers make looks. Judges judge them. And the ones who don't succeed are gradually eliminated from the competition. Oh, and there's an elephant in the room - a big, gazillion-dollar elephant.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MAKING THE CUT")

GUNN: The winner will receive a mentorship to help grow your business in all facets.

KLUM: And the winner will get to create a collection that will be sold on Amazon.

HOLMES: Amazon looms large here. While the original "Project Runway" has come under plenty of criticism for challenges that brought us gaudy promotion of everything from Dixie cups to the restaurant Red Robin, here, the corporate promotion is pretty single-minded. In fact, the whole show is heavily focused on branding and sales. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Fashion is, after all, an industry.

At the same time, there's something special about watching talented people make art. So in "Making The Cut," the designers are often asked to riff on a very loose theme to make both what they call a runway look and what they call an accessible look - one for fancy-shmancy (ph) people, one to sell, preferably on Amazon.

But if you can look past that, it's a pretty easy watch. They've assembled the show with an almost aggressively chill vibe. You'll see the sights of Paris. The relentless incidental music is forgettable but soothing, like it came from an Instagram ad for yoga pants. You can hear it as the contestants do some sightseeing.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MAKING THE CUT")

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Whoa.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: This is so cool.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: This is crazy.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Sander, you're my inspiration (laughter).

HOLMES: They've even made the challenges a little less frantic by giving the designers access to an overnight seamstress. That way, the competition is less about whether you're going to send a model down the runway with an unfinished hem or perform an accidental salute to circus clowns and more about design itself. That's a welcome change.

The judges are solid, including supermodel Naomi Campbell, who is perfect at putting a button on conversations like this one from the second episode, where the judges watch a very short dress over pants come down the runway.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MAKING THE CUT")

CARINE ROITFELD: I would love this dress to be a bit longer so we don't have...

KLUM: And then no pants.

NAOMI CAMPBELL: No pants - I agree. Hear, hear.

HOLMES: Hear, hear indeed, Naomi Campbell.

"Project Runway" is a little more for the fan of wild competition. "Making The Cut" is more for the fan of pure fashion. But even with the downsides of too much Amazon and too much ambience in general, "Making The Cut" will do a lot to soothe those of us trying so hard to make it work.

Linda Holmes, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.