Sunday, October 4, 2015

Project Runway Season 14, Episode 9: Just (Not) Fab

Greetings, Project Runway fans!

This week featured yet another sponsor-focused challenge. I think we're up to 80% sponsor-focused challenges this season. This one made some sense as the winning look would be featured on the site and available for purchase.

Now, usually when it comes to these sorts of challenges, I like to provide a link so that you and go see it and, perhaps purchase it. Usually, though, by the time blogs like mine are posted, the site is long sold out.

I'm not going to do it this time because when it comes to JustFab, I'm not a fan.

JustFab is part of a new trend in online commerce known as subscription commerce. In order to get the 20% discount, they ask users to sign up for a MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION. According to JustFab, about 45% of their subscribers buy something each month. What they don't say is that 100% of their subscribers pay to use the site each month. Oh, and about that monthly subscription....
You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave....
Before you can start perusing the site, you must first answer a few questions about your personal style so they can program their algorithms to custom pick what you should see.
JustFab's algorithm steers its customers to exactly what they want to buy.
I've never been past the JustFab homepage because I refuse to take the silly "personal style survey." If I just want to see your selection of black pumps in 8 1/2, why do you need to know my "personal style?" Let ME figure that out.

Before I dive into the episode, my favorite part was this AWESOME 1980's throwback....
 Twenty minutes into the future....

The brief couldn't have been any clearer.
It says so, right in the caption.
And in case you didn't get it, let Ashley explain.
"We're making something for the website that supplied us with the crappy shoes and accessories that we're using this season. It has to be easy to reproduce out of cheap materials so that people will still buy it with a 150% mark-up and there will still be enough to pull a profit."
Let's break this down for a minute. The designers are making something for JustFab to sell.  So maybe the key to winning this challenge is to make the final product as simple as possible. Keep that in mind when you're looking at the runway.
"Ahem. You forgot to mention the five design personas that were developed using sophisticated algorithmic analysis of our customers. Of course, having never taken our survey, you have no idea which persona you are, do you?"
It's like you know me.
"Listen, Suzq, you're not going to find 'aging mother of two and part time fashion-blogger' on the board. The very least you could do is rally around theme of this challenge."
By the way, maybe Ms. Mao should shop for a new pair of jeans on JustFab. The ones she's wearing are looking a little worse for the wear...but I digress...

Candice, who won the last challenge and had immunity this week, got to pick the personas for each designer. At this point, let's give the personas a rest. They didn't really factor into the outcome of the challenge, despite how much each designer ruminated over them.

Once again, this week, the designers shopped at Mood for just 30 minutes, but only with $100. 
"Where's the cheap fabric?"
They made better choices. For the most part...
"In Mumbai, our 'bombshells' wear animal print."
There was also a "twist." Each designer was to come up with a brand and a logo in order to "pitch" their design to Yuchin Mao. In the end, that twist was pretty meaningless because each look rose and fell on its own merits. It's only purpose, I think, was to show the designers wearing silly tee-shirts. Strong branding wasn't as important as a clear tie the outfit to one of the design personas. Because algorithms.

The guest judge this week was singer, actress and model, Ciara. Well, actually, Ciara Princess Harris. Most models start off in modelling and branch off into other things. Ciara started off as a singer, actress and then signed a modelling contract in 2009. She attempted, unsuccessfully, to launch a fashion line. That's a very interesting perspective to have as a judge. It would have been nice to hear some of that come out in the judging, but this was another lackluster runway, overall.

So let's begin!


Let's start here since we just saw his fabric choice. Swapnil had big plans for his bombshell dress.

It looks like he intended to do some banding around the waist and binding (at least I think it's binding...) in the back along with a sleeveless jacket.
She's not carrying a tall, kitchen garbage bag. It's a "sleeveless jacket" otherwise known as a "vest."
Swapnil had "zipper issues" so he slapped some sort of shiny panel on the model's rear end. The hem puddles awkwardly and wasn't finished. On the plus side, the strapping in the back enhances the fit while adding visual interest. The "sleeveless jacket" on the other hand, was a horrible, cocoon-like mess.


1987 is one the phone and wants its fabric back!

Ashley had "girl next door" and nailed the concept but fell short on the total look. I think we can safely say that we all want that jacket and we want it RIGHT NOW. What I don't want is to see that skirt EVER AGAIN. Every week, it's some variation on a gathered skirt. I'm over it.

The judges were a little divided over the crop top.
"What kind of woman wears a crop top like that?"
"According to our algorithms, approximately 38% of our customers would love this crop top."

Two words need never be uttered ever again on Project Runway or anywhere else for that matter.
"Removable Peplum."
If a peplum is removable, for the sake of everything we hold dear...remove it! First of all, it's not exactly a peplum at all. A peplum is attached to the top, not to the bottom. This is a...skirt ruffle? And it's competing for attention with a lapel scarf. The lapel scarf was an interesting idea. Too bad it competed with a bare midriff and the removable "peplum". Candice is an amazing designer but the details she obsesses over are sometimes puzzling. 


Leave it to the guy who's watched every episode of Project Runway to understand how to handle a challenge where the prize is a garment to be sold on a website.

It's tight, sexy, and easy to produce. The back is latticed like the front, but because a sexy look requires the model to wear her hair down, we can't see it. Just as was rather sloppy. But no matter. This thing has dollar signs all over it. It's practically begging to be produced in some Chinese factory.


She had some good ideas going on here. I like them all. One thing these all have in common is a consistent skirt length. Keeping the hemline straight allows the eye to travel to the layering and folding.

But once Merline got started, she became carried away.  The asymmetrical hem was one detail too much. This would be a difficult dress for most women to wear. The length is awkward and the peplum wings out at the hip. It's a bad silhouette. Furthermore, all of this fussy piece work took time away from refining the fit and finish. It was a mess.


What is it with Laurie and boobs? 
"The model was supposed to wear a backless bra."
"There's such a thing as a 'backless bra?'"
But besides that....there's absolutely nothing to this outfit. The top is one of those DIY scarf blouses that you see on YouTube videos. The skirt is completely standard.  


Kelly had "trendsetter." A trendsetter stays one step ahead of the fashion.The look Kelly produced was two steps behind with an eclectic mix. "Eclectic Mix" was not one of the design personas on the list. It's not a bad look, overall, but it looks more like something that belongs on JustFabeletics, which is Kate Hudson's athletics line on JustFab, than it does on the parent site.  

"I seriously can't even with the muppet vest"
So where does that leave us?

"I'm want me to pick from these looks for my website? Are you serious?"
After much debate amongst the judges, the result was very clear. While Ashley's jacket would have been popular, Edmond's piece was most easily produced look. The loser was harder to pick. It boiled down to Merline, who took a bold risk in a challenge to make saleable clothing vs. Laurie who couldn't even design a too simple ready-to-wear outfit.

So Laurie is out. Edmond doesn't have immunity next week, despite his third win. And next week, Tim Gunn loses his cool!

Let's see what happens then! Until next week, join us in our weekly group therapy session in the Blogging Project Runway chatroom!


  1. Thanks for a fantastic recap, Suzq! I didn't realize JustFab is one of those "pay to subscribe" sites - now I dislike it even more than I already did.

    I feel like I've been losing my cool over these designers every episode, so I'm excited to see Tim get on their cases too.

    1. Your rant this week was total genius! I should have said more about the disconnect between what the judges wanted to see and the brief the designers were given. I'm amazed at Edmond's ability to plow through the morass and focus on what Yuchin was looking for. Sometimes, that's all you got.