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Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn have now brought their "make it work" moxie to Amazon Prime Video. Gunn caught up with his on-screen sidekick to give us a behind-the-seams look at the new season of Making The Cut.
“This whole aspect of seeing it, falling in love with something and being able to buy it immediately on Amazon Fashion—it just goes full circle. You see it. You love it. You can buy it immediately.”–HEIDI KLUM
TG: As we like to say, we’ve been making it work for a long time now, 17 years. What do you think the secret is to our chemistry, ’cause we’re kind of an odd couple.
HK: What is our chemistry? I mean, I think it’s kind of like the same way there is love at first sight. It’s hard to put your finger on what it is when you fall in love with someone—but, you know... you just don’t question it. It’s just the way it is, so I feel like I just appreciate it, you know?
TG: Yeah, I feel the same way.
HK: It was love at first sight. It’s the same as in a relationship— love at first sight. You don’t know why it is, but there is this attraction and this love for one another—and we don’t need to question it. I’m grateful. I feel lucky I get to work with you for all these years. We get to create so many special moments for us, for all of our fans to see, being on Project Runway for so many years and now continuing on Making the Cut. So I feel like who knows what the secret to our chemistry is? It’s just there.
TG: Yeah, we won’t question it. I feel exactly the same way. You don’t know what chemistry will exist between two people until you’re actually together. And we’ve been together a long time.
HK: I always say it’s the longest marriage I ever had! This is my third marriage—and ours has lived the longest!
TG: What do you think most people don’t know about our friendship?
HK: I feel like we’re a little bit like My Fair Lady. You are Henry and I’m Eliza. … Do you know what I mean? You’re like the dapper gentleman who’s always amazing and teaching me things—and I’m like the one that keeps you laughing and dancing and sometimes makes you blush.
TG: I feel flattered by that comparison, but I have to say, I learn so much from you all the time.
HK: I mean, we always learn from one another. You know we are creative people, and creative people fuel each other’s fire—you with me, I with you. The same with the contestants. That’s why I also feel like it never gets old, because it’s always a fresh new crop of people... listening to them and seeing what they’re doing... trying to understand it and not always loving everything. It still ignites us to keep going. I feel like this is how creative people keep going.
TG: I absolutely agree. So you and I have brought the fashion competition show to Amazon Prime Video and to Amazon Fashion. How do you think the whole category of the fashion competition show has evolved since we first began with Project Runway in 2004?
HK: I feel like Project Runway was our first baby. This is our second baby and it’s new and improved. We’ve learned while we want to keep the focus on the designers, it is now highlighting also the business side of what it entails to have a successful global brand. I feel like no other show has ever showcased that. It shows more the entirety of what business as a fashion designer entails—like it’s not just about... being able to do a nice drawing and sewing clothes. There is more to it and I feel like we can show that.
TG: Yeah, and we do. As you were saying, we had Project Runway, and in some ways we were sort of stuck in a formula, and with The Cut we’ve been able to do things that really make a designer a success because it is about business, it is about production and it’s about marketing and being a brand. That’s what I love about our whole new adventure with Amazon Prime Video.
HK: This whole aspect of seeing it, falling in love with something and being able to buy it immediately on Amazon Fashion—it just goes full circle. You see it. You love it. You can buy it immediately. It’s great for the customer because they don’t only just see something that they love—they can also have it. It’s great for the designer because immediately they have a customer. So it’s full circle, which is something we’ve always dreamt of, and here we are.
TG: In fact, in some ways it’s surreal. It’s hard to believe it is actually happening, but it is. What can you tease about season 2 that will give people some surprises?
HK: Obviously, we filmed in the middle of the quarantine. I feel like there was an awareness amongst the designers to be connected in a different way creatively, in a healing kind of way—celebrating each other, showing what you can do and being more creative. We had to think outside of the box. It was either we can’t do it at all or we have to put all of our heads together to really showcase what they can do. With all of them being locked up for such a long time in quarantine and then being able to do this, I feel like everyone got to be more creative. What really stood out to me was the gender fluidity, because in the past sometimes this has been important for some designers, but never as much as it is now. Also, sustainability— everyone feeling good about making more clothes, putting it out there in the world. Especially with such a big animal like Amazon. ... Everyone is really conscious about producing good-quality clothes that are also good for the planet—and also can be worn by males and females. This has become one more reality. I like that a lot of the pieces are gender-neutral and that [the designers] want to do something for the environment and be sustainable.
TG: You can look at this and say because of the constraints placed on all of us we didn’t have very much wiggle room—but, as you say, it forces people to be more creative, not less. It’s also a test of what you have, and we know how profoundly we both believe in the group of designers in season 2 and how talented they are. When you think back to the first runway, without revealing who the winner was, or will be, who stood out to you? Are there any particular designers?
HK: It was a little bit of a roller coaster ride for me as well to kind of narrow it down to who my personal favorite is—and who I think [will be the] favorite of most people watching and shopping—so you always have to differentiate between the two. It’s not always like, ‘This is what I would love, what I would think.’ You kind of have to remove yourself sometimes from that a little bit and you kind of have to think about what would the masses like because, ultimately—especially with Amazon and Amazon Fashion going into so many countries—that’s what you also have to think about, so it’s hard. I don’t want to name any names, because I don’t want to give anything away, but you know there’s a few that stood out to me.
TG: I agree with you, it was a roller coaster!
HK: You know because sometimes [it’s like], ‘Oh, I love this person,’ and then they do something that’s like, ‘Now I’m not so sure and now I’m loving this person’—so it took me a few runways to really fall in love with my personal favorite. But then, you know, you have to also think about what the masses would like and what the majority of people out there would like because we’re looking for the next great global brand, and that to me is like what most people would want to have.
TG: We have a new judging panel—Jeremy [Scott] and Winnie [Harlow]. What do you believe they bring to the judging table in terms of chemistry and point of view and perspective?
HK: I think they both bring a really fresh perspective to the table. Jeremy is known for really bold and loud designs, but at the same time he is quite thoughtful. He’s very thoughtful in his feedback to the designers. He is never like, ‘I would have made it bolder and louder because this is who I am.’ He really is very sensible to listen to the designers, to understand them, you know. I think he sees himself as their peer. He treats all the designers with a lot of respect and admiration. I think that’s always very important. And Winnie brings a fresh, young kind of judging to the panel. She is super young—I think she’s probably one of the youngest judges that we’ve had on Making the Cut, which I think is also very important because young people shop like crazy. I mean, she’s like less than half of my age, so I think it is important to also see what the youth would want, and also someone who’s a little bit more out there, which I think she’s the perfect person for that. She’s super plugged in. She’s walked in all of the runway shows around the world with the biggest designers, and I feel like it’s important to have someone of her caliber on the show who is also very creative and also would encourage the designers to push their creativity further and further. I feel like she was definitely one of those people on the show that would push them because she wants more and more. So I think that we have two very good people who are constantly on the show with us, and then we had some fun and great guest judges.
TG: We did, and I have to say you and Winnie and Jeremy are just great together. And you really enhance the feedback to the designers in terms of diversifying it and having different points of departure. It was wonderful to watch.
HK: Well, what is most important always is that genuinely everyone really cares about these people and cares about the job that they’re doing. It’s not like you just show up somewhere and then you go home when you enter into something like a real reality show. You really have to dive in and almost forget about everything around you. You live that show and those people for that time. You have to be really invested with your whole body and soul and your heart to work with those people because they’re putting all their livelihood and everything on the line. So you have to be sensible enough and really be there with everyone every day. Jeremy and Winnie really are those people. They’re invested in those designers. They also have fallen in love with them. It’s not just a job that they get paid for, and I feel like it really shows that they really care. I mean, you saw Jeremy. ... He freaked out the last day and that really only happens to people who really, actually care, because otherwise they would be, like, ‘Whatever.’ There was no ‘whatever’ in anyone. Everyone fought for who they believe is the best week after week, so I think that’s super important for people to know that everyone really loves and cares for these designers and only wants to get the best out of everyone.
TG: I don’t know what the viewers are going to see yet, but we know how late those runway shows and judging panels went.
HK: Yes, sometimes we were there until like 2 in the morning.
TG: Or later!
HK: And we also obviously shot it at a time when it was freezing. You know, all under our clothes we had heating packs everywhere and we went as long as we needed to go to get it done, to give them all the respect and the feedback everyone deserves. ... So there was no ‘Oh, let’s quickly do this so we can move on and go home.’ We were there to give everyone their respective time and everything to make it as best as possible.
TG: Well, that’s exactly why I brought it up, because for me it was a symbol of how invested you and Jeremy and Winnie were, and are, in the designers—and in doing the right thing and giving them the right feedback. It needed to go on as long as it needed to go on.
TG: So season 1 took us to Paris, New York, Tokyo—season 2 we are in Los Angeles the whole time. What do you believe that the Los Angeles fashion scene has to offer?
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HK: Well, I think that Los Angeles has unfairly been ignored. As a fashion capital people think always about New York, Paris, Milan, London—but when you really look at it, I feel like most people learn about fashion from celebrities, from people in Hollywood... you know, if they are going to their Starbucks or their shopping... or they go on the red carpet to a movie premiere, or the Grammys, the Oscars—famous people running around showing all the newest, coolest whatever. I feel like there’s a history of glitz and glamour that people associate with Hollywood. So I’m happy that some of the really big designers also have showcased their designs [in Los Angeles], like Tom Ford, for example, or Rodarte that started showing in Los Angeles. I think it is important that there is a light shining on Los Angeles because I do feel like it brings a lot to the fashion industry. It’s a very creative town.
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TG: I completely agree, and I’m going to add that until World War II when the couture houses in Paris closed, America was a nation of copiers when it came to fashion, except for Hollywood. It was the only place where creative work was really happening and there was an event for that work, and many of those designers ended up being ready-to-wear designers in department stores. So for me Los Angeles is the birthplace of American fashion.
HK: See, you would be the one that knows all the history. It mirrors kind of what I was saying, just in more facts. I was just thinking that, but you actually know the facts to it.
TG: Well, it’s an incredibly important city for all things having to do with design. So let’s segue for a minute to our filming experiences, in all of our years—and I have my own answer to this question: What do you think is the funniest thing that has happened to us?
HK: Um, when we had the wrestling [WWE] Divas maybe?
TG: That was funny. I’m thinking about the two of us...
HK: Oh, because I was thinking I remember how Michael Kors was cracking up. We had to actually stop filming for a while.
TG: He could not stop laughing.
HK: Because he genuinely couldn’t stop laughing... and we actually had to stop—everyone had to leave the room and just get themselves back together, because it always feels like you make them feel bad and we didn’t even mean to, you know, but sometimes it just happens. With us two, what would you say?
TG: Well, for me it’s no contest, it was our croissant-making in Paris.
HK: Oh, yes, because also we were drinking a lot of wine. Yeah, OK, I love that too. This is something I have to say I miss doing this year. … Last year we were able to do all these wraparounds. ... We were able to do all these funny videos while we were in all those amazing places. Unfortunately, we couldn’t really do any of those this year. I miss doing them.
TG: Well, we had fun moments in season 2—there’s no question about that. But we had one sort of gallivanting, laughing time when we had the circus.
TG: So have you—and I’m laughing again—ever had any disagreements about fashion trends or outcomes?
HK: Um... no.
TG: Yeah, I agree. I mean, we have had different points of view, but we respect each other, and whenever we have a different point of view I’m always probing you to find out more... and support you or not. And as I said earlier, I always learn things from you and it helps broaden my own point of view, and I know it does for viewers at home.
HK: Yeah, I mean, that’s why there’s also so many different people, because we all have different opinions, which is good. Like I said earlier, we ignite each other’s lights to keep being creative. But I don’t feel like we disagree; we are just voicing our opinions or preferences.
TG: Yeah, and we do and we feel comfortable doing that because we trust each other and we respect each other. So, Heidi, there’s a whole new generation launching in fashion—and it’s your daughter, Leni. She is on her way to a huge modeling career.
HK: It’s crazy!
TG: So what advice have you given her?
HK: I told her to always love the person that she sees in the mirror. I think it’s most important to always listen to your gut and to not be afraid to say no, because there will be some things that you don’t want to do. Especially as a girl, when people always want things from you, and you don’t always have to just be pleasing people and saying yes to things all the time and doing it just because people around you want you to do something. I said to her that if you don’t want to do something you have to voice it and explain it—or not explain it. It’s OK to say no. I think that’s an important thing, especially when you’re younger—I mean now she’s only 17. I am with her at all of her shoots. I’m always there for her until she’s old enough to do it by herself, but still I think it’s important as a girl or a boy or anyone to voice a ‘no’ if you don’t agree with something or if you don’t want to do something. I think that’s important.
TG: Well, I always said there’s no more powerful word in any language than the word ‘no.’ It has incredible power.
HK: Yeah, and it’s OK to say no; you don’t have to say yes to everything.
TG: On a bright note, Making the Cut is certainly a pick-me-up. It’s a feel-good show and it’s something to celebrate. And it’s just as much fun making it as it is to watch it. We are very, very lucky.
HK: Absolutely. Obviously we hope that people love all the winning looks that we’ve chosen, and obviously we hope that a lot of people will support these designers. They’re all real people. They are not actors. They are all struggling, and if you love it, buy it because it helps these designers in launching their career.
TG: And it also gives the purchaser, in many ways, a cutting edge today that they’re not going to get anywhere else.
HK: Yeah, so we’re hoping that everyone loves what we’ve picked as much as we did.
TG: I trust that they will!
Photography by: Robert Eedmann / August