Sitting in a red top and a gold necklace on a Zoom call on a recent Friday afternoon, model Winnie Harlow was happy to discuss her new venture—being a judge on the second season of the Amazon Prime show Making The Cut. With a bright smile and a positive tone, Harlow excitedly spoke of her favorite attributes of pieces she loves and the secret to making any outfit look great—good tailoring. With all of her years and accomplishments in the industry, it’s clear that she’s knowledgeable about fashion and is ready to advise the next wave of designers on how to break into the industry.
Set to air on July 16th, Harlow joins fellow judge Jeremy Scott, the creative director of Moschino, and veteran hosts Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn in their mission to find entrepreneurs who are ready to take their developing brands to the next level. With the second season being filmed in Los Angeles, a new city for the series rather than the around-the-world tour of international fashion hubs from the previous season, the diversity of the fashion scene will serve as the backdrop for the show. Winners will receive $1 million to invest in their brand and the opportunity to sell a collection in Amazon’s Fashion store, plus a mentorship with Amazon Fashion.
Harlow first rose to prominence in 2014 after competing on the 21st cycle of America’s Next Top Model, in which she broke barriers and changed the face of fashion by embracing her autoimmune disorder and skin condition, vitiligo. She has since walked the runways for numerous brands such as Nike, Victoria’s Secret, Marc Jacobs and has been the face of Diesel and Steve Madden, as well graced the covers of magazines, such as Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. An advocate of self-love, she’s an active spokesperson for true self-confidence and boosting self-esteem.
The divine brown beauty sat down with EBONY to discuss her tour on the hit show, the types of fashion that excites her, and the pleasure of feeling beautiful within your skin.
EBONY: How does it feel to add being a judge on Making The Cut to your resume?
WINNIE HARLOW: It was such an honor to be asked to even be a part of a show that’s becoming so iconic so quickly. This is only the second season, but it’s had such a big impact already on the world. To be able to work with Heidi Klum and Jeremy Scott, both whom I love and have worked with before, and then getting to know Tim Gunn as the season went on, that was a really fun experience.
What did you discover about Tim Gunn while working with him on the show?
He’s very funny. He’s literally exactly what you see on TV. That’s exactly what you see in real life. He’s very passionate and very caring, but there’s also some humor in there as well.
On the show, you’ve said that you loved snatched waists and wrist cuffs. What else do you love in a piece of clothing?
I think, really good tailoring. So, even when I say “snatched waist,” a waist can be super snatched and still not fit right. So something that has a really good fit, something that’s tailored really well.
A lot of the technical things I learned on the show. There would be times where I would see things come down the runway that I would really enjoy, but there would be something that felt off to me. I would mention it, and it would be Jeremy, of course, the designer extraordinaire, who would explain why, such as the line is wrong or a hem is incorrect. Of course, I have stylists and I have my own wardrobe, but I think the most important part of the wardrobe is a tailor.
You’ve said that you love garments that make you feel something. What does that look like to you?
Specifically, when I’m saying this on the show, it’s me being able to feel the designer through the garment. So, for example, one thing we really loved seeing down the runway on the show is when the model would come out in a look and we knew exactly who it was. Regardless of if I love the outfit or not, it made me feel like they put passion into their work—we knew that was something that came from the heart, came from the soul.
Criticism can be so hard to take. What have you learned about giving it from being a judge on this show?
Criticism definitely can be hard to take, but I also had to acknowledge that these incredible designers are fresh into the industry but they also want the critique so that they can grow. They want to excel. Once I got to that realization, I was able to be more honest with them. I needed to say how I felt. And also, if I felt one way and they felt another, I realized that that was okay, too.
Out of all the contestants on the show, which one did you find admirable?
One person who I really admired was Andrea. I admired her because as a Black woman, she—and this was her design style prior to the show—created things that looked good on different skin tones. I’m not going to elaborate on what exactly she makes to work on different skin tones, but she definitely is very passionate about that aspect and I love that. It’s so inspiring.
You’re a proponent of self-love and feeling beautiful in one’s own skin. How do you champion that to others?
I’m Jamaican-Canadian; I’m not American. And I have witnessed the Black experience since living in America, so I've kind of come to understand more of the Black experience in America. It’s kind of the same thing where someone will ask, ‘So what am I doing about vitiligo?’ Well, it’s the same thing as being the only Black person in the room and being asked about that, you know what I mean? I’m being myself as a Black woman, that is that; but, I’m also being myself and being proud as a woman with vitiligo. And, I think that showcases beyond what has been seen before.