Israeli Designer Competes for $1 Million on ‘Making the Cut’

March 25, 2020
Rinat Brodach; Photo by David Scott Holloway/Amazon Studios

Television fashion design competitions like “Project Runway” have launched careers and made household names of talented newcomers. Season 4 winner Christian Siriano now dresses top celebrities and became the show’s mentor, replacing Tim Gunn in Season 17. Gunn and former host Heidi Klum jumped ship to preside over Amazon Prime’s new series “Making the Cut,” which combines design and commerce, marshalling the resources of Amazon’s online marketplace to immediately sell the winning designs.

Premiering March 27, the competition comes with higher stakes: The winner receives $1 million. It also has a global focus, with locations in Paris, Tokyo and New York and an international cast of experienced designers. Among them is Rinat Brodach from Beersheva, Israel, whose eponymous, gender-neutral line has been worn by Billy Porter, Laverne Cox and Adam Lambert.

“It’s about finding the next global fashion brand, not someone who has a passion for sewing,” Brodach told the Journal. “These designers all have a foot in the door in the industry and have real stories about the struggles of making it, and they’re trying to put the second foot in.” Dressing a “very eclectic group” of clients ranging in age from early 20s to 65, she describes her clothing aesthetic as “very minimal, very bold. I drape a lot. I like to accentuate the person’s body. I consider my clothes more than just clothes. They’re tools for people to express who they are.”

Brodach said she was urged to apply by the same casting agent who had persuaded her to audition for “Project Runway” a few years ago. She hesitated. “I didn’t put much effort into the audition. I did it without expectations or thinking too much. But I guess the universe had a different plan, and I’m glad it happened that way,” she said.

“I like to accentuate the person’s body. I consider my clothes more than just clothes. They’re tools for people to express who they are.” — Rinat Brodach

Her approach going in was to “be real and raw and be myself; show my capabilities and my passion,” Brodach said. “I went into this to push myself out of my comfort zone. I embraced the discomfort. If I wanted to be comfortable, I would not have done it.”

She acknowledged the challenges she faced, “But I’m very adaptable. And like Tim Gunn says, I ‘make it work.’ I’ve run my own business alone and I’m involved in all areas. The hard times I’ve had really prepared me to perform to my best on the show.”

Brodach has been interested in art and fashion since she was young. “I was always drawing. Around the age of 12, I started designing clothes. My mom is a very stylish woman and I’d go shopping with her. She would always let me express myself, choose my outfits and wear whatever I wanted,” she said.

Her great-grandfather was a tailor in Czechoslovakia before he was killed at Auschwitz. “I think I’m here to finish what he was not able to,” she said. His daughter — her grandmother — made it to Brooklyn, N.Y., after the war. “She went through horrible stuff but it made her stronger. She’s my inspiration,” Brodach said. Her Polish grandfather escaped to Shanghai, where he spent five years before relatives brought him to the United States.

Brodach’s Zionist father volunteered for the Israeli army, where he met her Moroccan Israeli mother, and the family returned to the States a few months after her birth. They moved back to Israel when she was 8. “I think growing up in Israel makes you a stronger person, less naïve, and makes you think outside the box,” she said. After her own service in the Israel Defense Forces, she returned to New York at 21 to pursue her dream of being a designer.

Brodach considers herself “more spiritual than religious. I do my morning prayers. I light Shabbat candles. I do all the Jewish holidays. I talk to God. I know what I want out of this religion and make it my own in a way,” she said. Currently single, she’d like to change that “if any nice Jewish men want to come by. I think I’m at the point where I’m ready to be in a relationship, but I think it takes a certain type of man to be with me. He has to be strong enough to catch me when I fall.”

She hopes to keep growing her fashion brand, but has no current plans to expand it to Israel. “Israel is the place where I go to recharge my batteries and see my family and friends. I don’t have the energy to start a business there,” Brodach said. “New York is my home now. If you can make there, you can make it anywhere.”

She’d love to have the opportunity to dress Gal Gadot, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Angelina Jolie and P.J. Harvey, “people who are very ballsy and out there and have a voice. I think my clothes have a voice too, and that they would go very well together.”

Reflecting on her “Making the Cut” experience, Brodach is glad she participated, noting that she came away with “some really strong bonds; friendships that continue today. “It’s really rare to meet designers that are genuine and don’t have an agenda,” she said. Taking part taught her to be herself and get out of her comfort zone.

“Anything big you want to accomplish in life is not going to happen while you stay comfortable,” she said. “You need to feel the discomfort and push yourself to the limit to get results. I had a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I don’t regret anything.”

“Making the Cut” premieres March 27 on Amazon Prime. 

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