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Our fashion critic reviews ‘Making the Cut’s’ winning collection: ‘A brand is born’

The "Making the Cut" judges during the filming of the Season 1 finale in New York.
(David Scott Holloway/Amazon Studios)

The following story contains spoilers from the Season 1 finale of Amazon’s “Making the Cut.” Read our reviews of last week’s winning looks here.

Down to three contestants and the final two episodes of its debut season, Amazon’s fashion competition show brought things full circle by returning to New York City with a final challenge: Conceptualize, realize and stock a pop-up shop on the way to determining who will walk away with a cool million dollars, an Amazon Fashion mentorship and a footnote in reality TV history.

Episode 9: A black dress with legs for days

In the penultimate episode of "Making the Cut," remaining designers Sander Bos, left, Esther Perbandt and Jonny Cota are tasked with building a pop-up shop.
(David Scott Holloway / Amazon Studios)

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Much like the digital marketing campaign challenge in episode seven, the pop-up shop challenge helped immerse the judges — and the viewers — in the designers’ worlds. And, like that episode, the victor of this one was Los Angeles-based designer Jonny Cota, whose pop-up shop was a concrete-walled bunker with green ivy growing through the cracks, voguing models on the sales floor and a butterfly-themed installation that served as a metaphor for his personal and brand transformation. (It’s worth noting that fellow contestant Esther Perbandt’s cement-walled pop-up, filled with coils of black rope, seemed so similar in tone that if the designers had swapped out their collections at the last minute, no one would have been the wiser.)

Given the structure of the episode, a “to be continued” two-parter, it wasn’t immediately clear which of the newly minted Jonny Cota label’s pieces was headed from the runway to retail (well, in this instance, from retail to retail), with strong contenders including a butterfly-emblazoned sweatshirt, a voluminous blanket-like puffer poncho and a black dress with an asymmetrical hem that judge Chiara Ferragni described as “effortlessly cool.” It turned out to be the last of those: a form-fitting, bamboo/cotton jersey dress ($89.90, no longer available) with strong shoulders and long sleeves with diagonal pleating details on the upper arm that called to mind the ribbed protective padding on motocross jackets. The hardness of those details is balanced by the way the soft jersey drapes (yes, “effortlessly”) the female form, as well as the most focus-pulling element of the dress — an asymmetrical hem that drops nearly to the floor behind the right ankle and rises almost to the hip socket on the front left thigh, simultaneously showcasing and elongating the left leg.

The takeaway: If ZZ Top’s song “Legs” sprung to life as an actual flesh-and-blood woman, this is what she’d wear.

L.A. Times TV editor Matt Brennan interviews ‘Making the Cut’ and ‘Project Runway’ star Tim Gunn about his mentorship style.

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Episode 10: A new brand is born

"Making the Cut" winner Jonny Cota.
“Making the Cut” winner Jonny Cota.
(David Scott Holloway / Amazon Studios)

The second part of the finale started with the departure of Belgian designer Sander Bos and ended with Jonny Cota besting Berlin-based Esther Perbandt for the win. For the 35-year-old Los Angeles-based designer, that means a million-dollar prize, a year’s worth of mentoring from the Amazon Fashion brain trust and serious momentum in the effort to turn his just-birthed eponymous label into a globally recognized fashion brand. For us, that means a chance to snap up some of the other standout looks from Cota’s pop-up shop in the “Making the Cut” Jonny Cota Studio online store.

Highlights of the 20-piece Metamorphosis collection include the aforementioned puffer poncho (we apparently weren’t the only one who liked the $325 piece of unisex outerwear, since it’s one of the pieces that’s already sold out) and a $750 cropped leather biker jacket that nips in at the waist and flares at the faux shearling-lined collar that turns out to be part of a hood.

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Riffs on the biker jacket have long been a go-to silhouette for Cota in his Skingraft collections, and while the ones included here (there’s also a $315 denim version on offer) help tie Jonny Cota Studio back to the original brand’s DNA, they aren’t among the most notable. That’s also true for the sweatshirts and T-shirts printed with the butterfly-meets-leopard-print design ($65 and $40, respectively) mesh sweaters for men ($85) and drop-crotch cargo pants ($165). The pieces more deserving of your eyeballs (and dollars) are the ones that underscore how far the designer has evolved over the course of the season: the vintage-inspired, puff-sleeved poet maxi dresses ($215) and simultaneously snuggly/sexy sweater dresses with sporty colorful stripes across the bodice ($185).

The takeaway: Although a good half of the collection feels like we’ve seen it somewhere before (perhaps even in past Skingraft collections), the other half is comprised of just enough fun twists on old standards and novel, easy-wearing utility pieces to convince us that the just-born Jonny Cota brand has the legs to eventually become exactly what the show’s producers were looking for: the next global fashion brand.


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