Andrea Salazar follows her own path. The Medellín, Colombia, fashion designer is one of the 10 competing on season 2 of Making the Cut. Raised in Colombia, while spending time in England and Brazil, Salazar brings her mix of cultures to her brand SETA.
Already a pro in her own right, with a store in Miami and featured in Vogue, Elle Magazine and The Today Show, Salazar hopes to take her designs to new levels by competing on the Amazon Prime show.
“It’s a life-changing opportunity and I’m super glad to be part of it,” Salazar tells ET ahead of the show’s premiere. This season, hosts and executive producers Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn are joined by two new celebrity judges — model Winnie Harlow and fashion designer Jeremy Scott. “I was like ‘OMG, I have to impress Jeremy Scott?!’ I love him. It was a big satisfaction to be able to show him our work.”
Known for her edgy, sophisticated and glam attire, the Latin American designer is all about stepping outside the box.
“Normally people from Colombia wear a lot of colors, flowers and are really tropical, but my style is not colorful at all,” she shares, describing her as “darker colors, minimalistic, more basic — but a lot of shine!”
What’s exciting for Salazar and the designers, after each episode there will be a winning look that will be sold exclusively on Amazon Fashion’s Making the Cut store. Here, Salazar opens up about her experience on the show and details the inspiration behind the looks from the first two episodes.
ET: How does your culture influence your designs?
Andrea Salazar: I grew up in Colombia but also I’ve lived in several cities. I’ve lived in London, Brazil. I have a mix of cultures. I also have the influence of my family and my grandmother, who used to travel the world so I have all these treasures from her. It’s a mix of things. I’ve been traveling the world since I was very young, so that’s one of the biggest inspirations for my work.
You have to bring the edge. People think my brand is from Europe, they get confused. But it’s a lot of cultures, not just Colombia. It’s a lot of my background and my experiences.
Let’s walk through your first two looks in the first episode. The black two-piece set with the dramatic sleeves and bedazzled detailing on the pants. Then you had the black, sheer dress with gold shimmer. Tell us about creating the two designs?
The first episode was the home challenge and it was made from home. So I had a great time doing it. I had time to plan it, create it. My mom was my assistant, she helped me a lot. She’s a fashion designer and a great pattern maker. She’s a perfectionist in her work because she’s the one who sews. [She’s all about] super quality control and she wants everything perfect. I constructed the two looks with her, she helped me a lot. We wanted to do these shoulders and we experimented with that. We blew our minds doing that. It was great and we were like, “How can we represent the brand in two looks?”
I felt pressured because I wanted to show a lot with these two looks and I was like, “Oh my god, I have to choose.” So it was perfect to do a subtle piece, a suit, two-piece, and then a dress that becomes a kimono. You can open it and you can use it in two ways. It was amazing. Those two looks were my favorite.
In the second episode you have to do resort looks. You had a sleek rose gold dress with a head wrap and you also did another two-piece set that included a sequin crop top and bootie shorts with a sheer skirt.
Everything went into the fabrics and the shimmer of the fabrics. I really wanted to do a resort piece with sequins. I know it’s not normal but it was part of the representation of my DNA. And also this was the second episode. I was by myself, designing by myself. It was super challenging. I played it safe with that one. but I loved the result. Also the flowy dress was perfect for the occasion, the color. It was exciting.
Who do you think is your biggest competition on the show?
Of course there were super talented people, but nobody has similar styles. We were super different. We were targeting different markets, so I didn’t feel like [there was a] biggest competitor. We were there for just one reason. But all of us we were different and we had different points of view on fashion.
But one of my favorites and the one I most identified with was Gary [Graham]. I loved his pieces. He works a lot with handwork and also the stitching, [he] handmade [everything]. So I really loved his work. It was great to see him work, he’s super talented and has a lot of years of experience. He was my favorite designer.
What was the biggest lesson you learned on Making the Cut?
The biggest lesson I learned was to manage time. It was my first priority because you didn’t have time to think. It was crazy. You have to execute it and do it, you didn’t have time to reflect and think, “Oh yeah, this will work, this cannot work.” It was not like that. You have to go straight to the point. But also to work under pressure. It was my first time working under that pressure. I felt overwhelmed of course, but the importance of working under pressure is to manage emotions. You have to be very aware of that; manage emotions so that you can deliver on time.
What do you hope Making the Cut brings to your brand, and who’s your dream celebrity to style?
This opportunity will open a lot of doors, we’re going to have huge exposure, global exposure and of course our brand is going to grow. It’s a life-changing opportunity and I’m super glad to be part of it. One of my dream celebrities would be the Hollywood ones, to be able to dress actresses in Hollywood. Maybe artists like Dua Lipa, pop stars, also rock stars. Kardashians also…I would like to dress. Maybe do styling for a movie. When we were in production in L.A. we were able to see how a production works and how they film a [show], all the BTS.
As a designer, and one that people will get to know and look up to, what are your must-have pieces for summer?
I always need a pair of shorts and an oversized white shirt, you can keep it closed or open and also a kimono. I love kimonos because they are super versatile. You can use it as a dress, closed or open. Crop tops, bodysuit are like the perfect mix for the summer in Miami, and swimsuits too. They have a lot of uses. I’m thinking about the uses of the piece, they all have to be super versatile.
Looking ahead, what are your fall must-haves pieces?
The jackets. The jackets are my must. Even in the summer I wear jackets at night, out to dinner, for traveling, for everything. Jackets elevate your look. [What I look for in a jacket] is a lot of personality. It has to have big shoulders, details, buttons, something that calls the attention. The jacket is my best seller, my signature product and also one of the most elaborate pieces and stand-outs in my collections. People are always waiting for the new jackets.
It’s great to see a Latina who has her own unique style and brand. What advice would you give to other aspiring designers?
My advice is to follow your dreams no matter what. I think when you have the conviction and you trust yourself you can do it and you can achieve your dream. Follow your path. Be passionate about it. No one stops your from achieving your dreams. You are your own hero and the one able to achieve your dream. That’s my advice. [Also] travel if you can. Study a lot. Think outside the box. Sometimes we stay in our comfort zone but that doesn’t let us grow. Try new things too.
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Making the Cut premieres July 16 on Amazon Prime Video, with new episodes available weekly.
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