Winnie Harlow's inherent charm makes her an ideal fit for most jobs, but no project has been quite as fitting as the multi-talented model's latest venture. A boldface name on the judging panel of Amazon Prime Video’s fashion competition show Making The Cut, Harlow brings the ultimate fashion insider perspective to the cast of hopeful finalists—and occupies more than a few roles: mentor, critic, garment expert, model insider, industry darling, and host. Lucky for show participants (and its massive viewership), there might not be anyone better suited to take them all on at once.
First gaining prominence as a contestant on a similar show (the iconic America's Next Top Model competition), she knows what it's like to put it all on the line. Of course, as a household name with a mile-long credit sheet, she more than made the cut—she's a cut above.
Ahead of the season premiere, Byrdie caught up with a very busy Harlow for a debriefing on the skincare products she loves right now, her on-set essentials, and the hardest parts of her new gig on the other side of the judging table.
You're far and away one of the most prominent models of your generation. What drew you to Making The Cut as a project?
"I think what drew me in was that I love Jeremy [Scott] and Heidi [Klum], and I have also worked with them before. So I knew what I was getting myself into. You know, I walked for Jeremy for Moschino many times; Heidi's asked me to do Germany's Next Top Model twice before as a guest judge—and I am so inspired by them as well. It was a no-brainer to me. In the first season, Naomi Campbell [was a judge], and being able to walk in the footsteps of a legend for the second season is an honor."
With so many personalities backstage—some that you've known before and worked with, some new—do you have any favorite moments from behind-the-scenes?
"We filmed for a month in Malibu, and we had the most beautiful [time]. I think my favorite moments are walking onto set and seeing what the Making The Cut team has created for these designers to showcase. Nothing was spared; they really wanted everything to be seen in such a beautiful light for the designers. And that was executed so beautifully."
You have such a busy schedule; I can only imagine what it looks like. When you do get a few days (or minutes) to yourself, how do you like to relax, unwind, and practice self-care?
"I love doing masks or getting facials. Massages are so necessary to me. I have scoliosis, which I don't talk about very often, but it's not something that I hide. I don't talk about it in interviews, but everyone around me knows I have scoliosis. I've always gone to chiropractors growing up, so getting massages for me is so necessary for my well-being. I've had like a million interviews today—I've been sitting here for four hours. I've literally got my back—I like making sure that my back is feeling good, right? But that's definitely super, super important to me. Also, taking time to spend with family and friends, my dogs, my god kids. Yeah, quality time.
Speaking of face masks, your skin is always so gorgeous and glowing. How are you taking care of your skin these days? Any favorite products or routines you're gravitating towards?
"Over the past few months, I recently started using Sunday Riley products, and I really enjoy them. I use a lot of products—I am a product junkie. I'm obsessed with products, and I always have been. My mom is a product junkie, so I get it from her, and she always has back stock. So, I always have back stock now. I use many things, but [Sunday Riley] is something new to me that I'm enjoying lately."
Any products or any items in general that you always have to have in your bag? What stays with you?
"I always have to have my lip with me (my lippy—whatever lip I'm wearing for the day), gum or mints if I have my Invisalign in, and then I always bring a speaker to set. I always have a speaker with me anywhere I travel. If I'm in my trailer and I'm filming a show or movie, whatever I'm doing, it gets the vibes going, you know? Sometimes you just don't want to be sitting around in a quiet room getting glam done. It's kind of weird."
Are you a playlist person? Are you a play-a-full-album person?
"A DJ person! I got the tunes! I'm really good at selecting the vibe and then carrying the vibe out."
There are so many wildly talented designers on the show. What is the most challenging part of judging, and what's the most fun part of judging for you?
"I think the most challenging part of judging is giving critiques. I obviously know what it's like to be critiqued, and I know what it's like to be judged. And I want to be honest and get my point across and make sure that I'm helping them—and not just here sitting doing nothing. But I also want them to feel like I respect them, you know? And I want to feel respected as well.
"So that was definitely something important for me. I think the most fun part about judging is when you give your critiques, and they come back the next episode, and they've taken what you've said, and they've learned from it, and they've grown from it. And you can see them execute exactly what you spoke about the episode prior."