It's been a couple of years since we've seen Project Runway's former dynamic duo together on our TV screens. After 16 seasons, Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum left Project Runway right as it was making the jump to Bravo in 2018. It turns out that Klum considered that the perfect time to move on to something new. "For me, it was like, okay, we're either going to just go back there and it’s gonna be the same old same old — or now it’s this opportunity to jump ship," she said at a Television Critics Association panel, as reported by The Wrap. So she called Gunn up and asked him if he wanted to come with her — even though she didn't have any plans for what they would do next.
Gunn said yes, and eventually the two landed their next fashion venture at Amazon Prime Video. Making the Cut follows a similar structure to Project Runway — designers competing in fashion challenges to win a cash prize — but with some key differences. One of the biggest is that the Amazon platform is allowing the show to sell the winning challenge pieces right there on the site and all for around $100. The Amazon-backed budget also gave Klum and Gunn the opportunity to be a little more adventurous (for example, filming in Paris and Tokyo in addition to New York) and rely less on episode sponsors like Project Runway often has to.
"When you do a show, someone always has to pay for it, and other people want you to do certain things, so you can’t have the creative freedom," Klum said at that TCA panel. "Okay you’re designing for this water company, so you have to make something out of these water bottles and lids, for example."
Gunn added that after 16 seasons, he'd grown tired of the show's formulaic approach to episodes. "We couldn’t break out of it," he said. "There was a fear, not among us — we're the ones who were thinking creatively and innovatively about what we wanted to do — but from the viewpoint of where the show sat, there was a fear of leaving that formula."
Now the duo has their own formula, and it includes focusing more on the global brand potential of these already pretty established designers. According to Variety, Making the Cut also gives each designer a seamstress to create the basic fit of the clothing, since that's how it works in the real design world. This frees the contestants up to focus on the design aspects of their pieces, and also helps the show to move away from small drama about sewing skills.
Gunn acknowledged at the TCAs, according to Deadline, that "Making the Cut wouldn’t have happened without Project Runway," but he thinks the new show builds upon the foundation the first one laid. The Hollywood Reporter said that Gunn compared the two shows to different education levels. "Project Runway is the undergraduate program and Making the Cut is the graduate and PhD program."
And now Gunn and Klum get to be as creative with their TV show version of a thesis as they want.