The following story contains spoilers from the third and fourth episodes of Amazon’s “Making the Cut.” Read our reviews of last week’s winning looks here.
The third episode of Amazon’s new streaming fashion competition reality show “Making the Cut” explores the weird beast that is the collaborative effort: Two different labels (usually well-established ones with their own customer base) join forces to create something that is a little bit of both and — in the best-case scenario — something altogether surprising and different. (Or, as Tim Gunn put it in the episode: “Where one plus one equals a hundred.”)
High-profile examples of this include old-school clothier Brooks Brothers joining forces with fashion-forward designer Thom Browne, John Varvatos teaming up with Converse and French luxury label Louis Vuitton and streetwear brand Supreme, whose partnership proved so popular it caused a near-riot in front of a downtown L.A. pop-up shop.
Such creative joint ventures are always more interesting when both parties involved have familiar, well-established brand identities and the end result looks more like the baby from a happy marriage than a Frankenstein’s monster stitched together from body parts. Having known these contestants’ design aesthetic for less than three reality-TV hours and knowing the quick-turnaround constraints of the challenge, we expected this episode’s runway-to-retail look to be little better than a cobbled-together corpse using unidentifiable body parts. What we actually got was a beautiful bouncing baby boy — and girl.
Episode 3: A coatdress combo from the odd couple
As a way of amping up the dramatic tension and underscoring the creative challenges involved, the show’s producers paired up contrasts in style — Jonny Cota’s black leather vibe paired with Megan’s lighter, more feminine aesthetic, for example — or age, in the case of 25-year-old Belgian designer Sander Bos and the several-decades-older Sabato Russo. While the first of those duos perfectly showcased how collaborations can be as much alchemy as chemistry (and can have a ripple effect on a brand, something that becomes apparent in the series’ fourth episode), it was the latter duo that turned out a covetable coatdress you’d want for your own wardrobe — whether or not you knew the back story or either of the collaborators involved.
A balance of masculine and feminine, the winning garment ($89.90, all but the two smallest sizes unavailable as of this writing) was a black, double-breasted, notch-lapel tailored jacket married to a skirt and flowing train in an iridescent aubergine taffeta, which the online product description calls brown. (If that’s the case, then this coatdress deserves the win all the more for not coming off as a hideous color pairing.)
While the static, on-model photo on Amazon Fashion’s website reveals a few of the elements that make it a standout, including the way the jacket closure curves into a sexy leg slit and the silhouette nips in at the waist before flaring dramatically into the skirt, what really sells it is the way the taffeta fabric from the waist down flows and swirls as the model wearing it walks the runway along the River Seine.
The takeaway: Sabato and Sander should be very proud parents indeed.
Episode 4: A striped midi dress to impress
The fourth episode is the second half of a “to be continued” story arc that has one contestant falling on his own sword in one of the most cringe-worthy reality-show departures we’ve seen in a long time. Which leads to the remaining designers scrambling to create a single look in a seven-hour span using only leftover fabrics from the previous challenge. That might sound like a recipe for good TV (and it most definitely was), but it’s not necessarily the best way to approach creating a wearable piece of clothing. So we have to admit that we were pleasantly surprised with the end result here too — a black and white-striped midi dress with a high-waisted bodice, flounced asymmetrical hem and sleeves that puff at the wrists ($69.90, only the extra-small size available as of this writing) by L.A.-based designer Cota.
Anyone familiar with Cota’s L.A.-based streetwear label Skingraft, rooted in manly black leather, would tell you that both the striped fabric and the feminine, Victorian-inspired details are a marked departure for the designer, so it’s noteworthy that he not only chose to use the boldly patterned fabric — leftover from the previous episode’s collaboration, where it was paired with other fabrics — but to emphasize the feminine details like the bodice and the flounce hem to boot. At one point in the episode, the designer described the not-yet-finished dress to Gunn as having a “Beetlejuice” vibe, referring to the signature stripes worn by the title character of Tim Burton’s 1988 film, and, in a way we could easily see Winona Ryder’s Lydia Deetz dancing to a calypso tune in just such a frock.
The takeaway: For a serving up wide stripes that didn’t have us immediately thinking about circus tents, we’re saying an enthusiastic “I do” to this bride of Beetlejuice.