One of the few designers practically synonymous with celebrities and pop culture, Jeremy Scott has never shied away from the spotlight. His penchant for all things pop, camp, neon and sparkle have made him a household name in both fashion and entertainment circles, so it's only fitting that his latest role is back in front of the cameras.

Scott is set to join the judging panel alongside model Winnie Harlow in the second season of Making the Cut, the fashion competition series which premieres July 16 on Prime Video. (They're replacing last season's judges Joseph Altuzarra and Naomi Campbell, respectively.) It's not the first time he's on TV, of course — he's had guest judging appearances on shows like America's Next Top Model and RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars.

But now he's seeing it all the way through to help choose which designer contestant will win $1 million and the chance to sell their collection on Amazon, as well as a mentorship with Amazon Fashion. The show, which sees Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn returning as co-hosts, was shot in Los Angeles after the first season saw episodes take place in different parts of the world pre-pandemic.

Ahead of the show's premiere, PAPER caught up with Scott to dish about his experience filming the series, the state of fashion for young designers today and his highly anticipated NYFW show for Moschino later this year.

So what was the main thing that drew you to be a part of the show?

Heidi [Klum]. I mean, honestly. I love her and she makes me laugh and she's so much fun and joy to be around. And just from knowing her over the past few years and getting to know her and having done some other little things with her, I just have always had such a great and fun time.

And so when she asked me it was a quick yes. Her and Tim are such a dynamic duo in this fashion, television reality, they're the icons of it. So to be asked to be included with this dynamic duo, I was so thrilled. And then I got the extra cherry on top that Winnie was joining too. So that was great because she's one of my friends and muses and one of my favorite people on the planet. It was all really good.

How did you approach your role as a judge this season and what kind of things were you looking for from the contestants?

Well at first I was very hesitant to give any critiques that might crush someone's dreams or hurt their feelings. But quickly I realized that the best thing I can do is just be honest and truthful because I'm not coming from a mean spirit. I'm coming from a shake you up, take a look at this, kind of attitude. And I really thought and felt then the reaction back [from contestants] was correct. I was giving them the tools they needed, not only to win the challenge or win the competition, but to win at this career that they are set forth to want to do.

And so the best thing I can do is try to pull the curtain back to my actual career and what [has] actually happened in the fashion industry and give them a glimpse of that to try to impart them with this true real world information. After I got over my initial concern of becoming the Simon Cowell of the episodes and season, I really was like "Okay, just be genuine, be honest."

I'm curious to know what your relationship with reality fashion TV was like when you were younger?

I watched Project Runway from the very start and I loved them and loved all the show was all about. I thought it was so entertaining and exciting. To have the opportunity to work with Tim and Heidi is just such a thrill because they really are the pioneers and the gold standard of fashion, reality television. And their longevity in this space really shows they are the, not only the forebearer and pioneers, but they are the gold standard.

So this season was shot in LA and you obviously have a connection with the city. Most people think of New York as the fashion capital in the U.S. but what does the city of LA bring to fashion and how has that evolved over the years?

Well there's more manufacturing in Los Angeles for fashion than there is in New York, but that's a different story. I think LA has evolved immensely because when I moved here in 2002, there were definitely a lot of people scratching their heads. Like, "Why are you going to LA and not New York? This seems like a step in the wrong direction."

But for me, I always saw LA as this megaphone to the world because of this merging of entertainment, art, fashion, and pop culture. And that's really where I sit in this and I feel like that's also where it's evolved for us culturally and fashion now is really a centerpiece, right? Any actress worth their weight in gold is trying to have a deal with a fashion house. And the latest, the greatest, the most exclusive pieces are on the red carpet. So many pop stars, iconic images are created and bound to our memory with high fashion. So I feel like LA really just morphed and changed in that way and it really is the epicenter of fashion for me.

Having judged these contestants and seeing them express themselves, I wonder what you think are some of the challenges today for a designer to break through and how they can take the next step compared to when maybe you started out.

I actually have a funny story about this. The first time I was written about in a newspaper was the New York Times by Amy Spindler who was a great journalist unfortunately passed too soon because of cancer. But she was writing about me coming to the Paper Mobile with your founder Kim [Hastreiter]. She created this like RV and it was in Union Square Park and she had an open call for all fashion designers, new talents to come and show their wares. And I believe that Geoffrey Beene was also in there with her. They were there to scout new talents and try to shine a light. And I was so excited, I got my muse, Jenny Dimbrow, she was there. She went by the club kid named Jenitalia she had the shaved hair and the shaved eyebrows and the pierced cheeks. She's the original girl that Chloe plays in Party Monster, actually. And she was all dressed in my designs. We went out there, stood in the heat and in line to get on the Paper Mobile to show my portfolio. I was so excited to have this opportunity.

I think about that now, telling you this, because I haven't thought about this story for a billion years. And then thinking about, today, I would just put something on Instagram and someone would like it, someone else would share it, and it could just move so organically. I think these kids are spoiled today, I want my money back! I had to do it the hard way. That was so important, so crucial and I just had all my hopes and dreams in a little basket trying to hope that I was going to be discovered. And how thrilled I was that even though Paper actually didn't end up featuring me, but that Amy saw me and spoke about me and named me and said I was going to Paris to pursue my career and my hopes of working in high fashion. It was fuel. It was so exciting. It just enriched my soul and it gave me this drive to want to go and try to make my way forward.

Lastly, how are things going with your label and Moschino now that many parts of the world have finally reached some semblance of normalcy?

I am excited about September and showing the Moschino show in New York and having a live presentation again. I thoroughly enjoyed directing these past three films and I was so elated with the response and the way that people received them. Being able to pour my creativity into a new vessel of directing and bringing these short films to life and having the clothes come to life in a different way and having that connect to people in a new way. But I do miss the actual connectivity and energy of having a cabin of models and an audience of people and a live show, which just has its own magic. So I am looking forward to that. I think I'll figure out how to merge the two parts as I go forward, because I think there's some great things that I've learned to do and to and I've learned that work really well. Not only for me creatively, but for the audience as well. I don't want to say that I will no longer do any films as l go forward with live shows as I've been very lucky to have these outlets for my creativity and for being able to share with people and connect with people.

Photos courtesy of Amazon Studios

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