What did you draw on from your own personal experience to equip you for judging?
N: You can go about building a brand in a number of ways. There is no blueprint of how to do it perfectly. It is important to stay creative and keep your ear to the ground. That is something everyone on the panel has had experience with.
J: I know how hard it is to be a designer, how difficult it is to cut through the noise, and grow a business. I was where a lot of these designers were twelve years ago, cutting patterns on the floor of my living room and trying to get the attention of the industry. So in a lot of ways, I drew on what I learned, and what I am still learning today when I was judging each assignment. It’s more than about how pretty or how well made a dress is. It’s also about the story, and the marketing, the full package.
What was the most memorable moment about working with Heidi and Tim?
N: Our first night of shooting took place at the Eiffel Tower. We were all about to walk down a gold runway at 11pm in Paris. Right before we went out, we all just kind of looked at each other and said “OMG I can’t believe this is real." We had so much fun shooting.
J: I love how much they truly care about the designers. They are so invested and so passionate about every single one of them, and are rooting for them to succeed. I think one of the most telling moments for me was when Tim started getting emotional during one of the eliminations. He cares that deeply.
What was the greatest challenge you came up against while working on the show?
N: As we got further into the weeks, it became increasingly difficult to send people home. Each designer is so incredibly talented, and they work so hard. They had to juggle travelling across the globe, staying up all night creating their looks and being up first thing in the morning to get ready for their show. They all deserved to be there.
J: The greatest challenge is definitely eliminating the designers. You grow to know them and their story, and become attached to so many of them. It’s incredibly hard making the decision of who stays and who has to leave. There were many difficult decisions we had to face during judging. As a panel, we were all very aware of the stakes, and the fact that one of the designers would be winning 1 million dollars, which is a very significant amount of money. It could really transform any one of the designers’ businesses. I approached every decision with that in mind and took it very seriously.
Is it difficult to give the contestants your honest thoughts? How do you work through this?
N: We, as judges, get a limited amount of time to talk to the designers. We don’t have time to sugarcoat anything. We know they are talented, it is why they are a part of this competition. I want them to get as much helpful information as they can to get to the next level. The feedback all came from a place of respect.
J: I never wanted my critiques to feel like a performance. I always wanted to be critical but fair, while remaining constructive and kind, which is just what I am like in real life. My goal was really to help the designers thrive and succeed. Sometimes, I had to say things that might not have been pleasant for the contestants the hear, but in the end I hope that those critiques make them better designers. And the reality is that as designers, even at my level, we get reviewed and critiqued all the time, sometimes by editors or journalists, or buyers. So it’s something that is part of the reality of being a designer.
What part of Making The Cut was most fun?
N: Being around young and creative people is so much fun. It's an exciting energy to be around. Spending the summer in Paris also wasn’t a bad thing.
J: Honestly, I loved every part of it. I loved spending time with the other judges and getting to know everyone. I loved supporting and guiding the contestants and learning about their work and stories. The whole experience was incredibly rewarding.