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Making the Cut Season 1, Episode 9: “Pop-up Shop”

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AUGUST 23, 2019 - New York, NY: Filming season 1 episode 109 of Making The Cut in New York, New York on August 23, 2019. (Photo by David Scott Holloway)

I couldn’t believe Making the Cut was down to the final three designers. This “Pop-up Shop” episode jumped right into the action following the decisions from Episode 8: “Brand Evolution.” Co-hosts Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn emerged from the judging area to speak with the designers.

Top three Making the Cut contestant sitting opposite Mentor Tim Gunn in Episode 9: Pop-up Shop
Mentor Tim Gunn, right, sits with the top three designers, from left, Jonny Cota, Esther Perbandt, and Sander Bos. Photo courtesy of Amazon Corporate.

The “Pop-up Shop” challenge

The designers were immediately told to pack their bags: They were going home. From there, they would have a month to work before returning to New York City to present their final collections. Their assignment: Create a pop-up store that represented their brand, and design a 12- to 14-look collection for a final fashion show. The pop-up store needed to be an accessible preview of the fashion show, they were told. The challenge also required presentation of a business plan and a pitch for how they would use the $1 million final prize to advance their brand.

The show mostly skipped over the 30 days the designers had at home and resumed with the moment they arrived back in the Big Apple. I was disappointed. I have enjoyed watching the process and would have liked observing how the designers coped with the planning and the stress for this, the largest challenge in the series.

When the top three designers, Sander Bos, Jonny Cota, and Esther Perbandt, arrived in the workroom, Heidi and Tim dropped a bombshell: One of them would be eliminated after the judges evaluated the pop-up shops and before the final fashion show.

The three designers had clearly worked hard during their month at home. Sander planned his pop-up shop with his sister and aimed for more accessible looks. Jonny embraced femininity and made everything—from jewelry to shoes to garments. Esther, realizing she still had room to grow as a designer, developed her collection with the theme “Hungry for Life.”

The judging

The decision at the end of this episode was to be based on the success of the pop-up stores, not on the judges’ evaluations of what they saw on the runway. Show guests could buy the designers’ garments, and the number of sales would influence the judging. Executives from Amazon’s fashion division observed the designers as well.

The judges described Esther’s shop as sophisticated. They were impressed by her attention to detail and took note of the interesting design elements in every garment. They worried about her online appeal, however, because of the difficulty of showing an all-black collection on-screen.

Pop-up shop created by Making the Cut contestant Esther Perbandt
Esther’s pop-up shop was cool but accessible and, of course, filled with black.

The in-house tailoring service in Sander’s pop-up shop was a big hit with the judges, but they wondered why he didn’t make accessories for his collection. He chose a more junior vibe for his shop, but the judges said it showed range compared with his usual avant-garde looks.

Pop-up shop created by contestant Sander Bos
Sander’s pop-up shop featured in-shop tailoring services, held in the mirrored booth in the center.

Jonny hired “vogue” dancers instead of models, who stood in at the front of his pop-up shop, performing their highly stylized form of dance. He designed a whole line for his new namesake brand, “Jonny Cota,” departing from his previous Skingraft label. The judges were impressed with Jonny’s shop and said it felt like a real store. They said his clothes looked effortlessly cool and had a wide appeal.

Pop-up shop created by Jonny Cota
Jonny’s “Metamorphosis” theme showed in his pop-up store decorations and ethereal styling.

The episode ended without the announcement of a winner and without an elimination.

To be continued . . .

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