All On The Line S1E2: Kara Janx

Posted on April 06, 2011

From the moment we first met Kara Janx, at the Project Runway Season 3 finale party, we have adored her. We don’t get to see her often, but it’s squeals of delight and big hugs all around each time we do run into each other. She is our favorite type of person: warm, creative, colorful, blunt, soulful and in possession of a surplus of personality. No more than 15 minutes into last night’s episode we were turning to each other and saying things like, “I love Kara…but she is difficult.”

One more semi-insider-y name-dropping point and then we’ll get on with it. Last month, when we met Joe Zee for lunch, Kara’s name came up and he asked us what we thought of her work. “We love that kimono. It’s the strongest thing she’s ever done.” Joe didn’t say much in response and for at least a little while afterwards we were all, “He hates the kimono!”

Much to our relief last night, our taste was validated, as Joe not only loved the kimono too, he thought it was her strongest piece. Hello? Fashion bona fides? PRESENTED.

But let’s get back to Difficult Kara, which would make a great title for a children’s book.

We’ve always loved her aesthetic of girly, flirty clothes with an urban, slightly funky vibe to them. We admit, we were a bit surprised by what she showed Joe from her line because most of the pieces didn’t seem to have that quirky Kara…”thing” we can’t quite identify.

Joe was spot on (as usual) when he pointed out that her clothes have a too-youthful vibe to be where she needs to be in the market. We can see why she’s doing the show, because as cute as these pieces were, it seemed to us that Kara was in a bit of a design rut. When Joe called them “generic mall clothes” we gasped, fanned ourselves and said in unison, “Giiiiiirl…”

But he was right, and Kara’s always shown way more promise than that as a designer.That she was trying to get away from her signature piece, the kimono, at this crucial stage in her career, indicates that she really was rudderless and needed someone to set her in the right direction.

Joe astutely noted that Kara’s aesthetic is a bit limited in terms of what body types it serves, but we’re not entirely convinced a gym was the place to expose her to different body types. After all, these women all look to be in great shape. Granted, most of them seemed pretty adamant that they’d never wear, well, exactly the kinds of clothes Kara designs.


And how awesome for a designer to hear the words, “Kara, I invited my friends Viktor & Rolf over today to give you a little pep talk about creativity.” Kara was appropriately awed and touched and we briefly hoped she’d turn out a couple cracked-out insectoid wedding gowns or giant tulle skirts with cannonball holes in them for her capsule collection, but thankfully, Kara’s not as derivative as we are.

But she is difficult, isn’t she? Once again, we were on Joe’s side in this argument (It will be a shock to us if the day ever comes when we utter the words “Joe Zee is WRONG!”). If there is any chance the quality or completion of the pieces will be compromised due to time constraints, then you damn well reschedule your appointment with Neiman Marcus. To her credit, she came around. It seems to us that Kara needs to work through her resistance to an idea before coming to accept it. She’s not nasty about it, but you have to be ready to play ping-pong with her and defend yourself.

She was pretty stubborn on the idea of having a plus-sized piece in the collection. And before anyone comes down on us, in the industry, “plus-sized” refers to size 8 and above. We don’t know why Kara was so stubborn on this point, to be honest.

We suppose we could be simplistic about it, believe the editing, and decide she hates women who aren’t model-sized, but we don’t think so. She’s resistant in any case, and this time the idea she was resisting would have required her to re-fit something she claimed she didn’t have the time to do. We didn’t think the dress looked un-salvageable on the model during the fitting, but we’ll be interviewing her soon, so we’ll try to get the scoop there.

Sometimes fashion people just fit the stereotype, you know? Is there any question what industry those three work in?

But enough dilly-dallying! We’ve got dresses to rip!



LOVE. Instantly took the Kara Janx look to a more sophisticated place.



ALSO LOVE. Great jacket and pants, really interesting top. Still feels like Kara, but going in a different direction. It’s also all very salable.



We’re torn between the sparkly kimono and jacket look above, or these two jumpsuits as our favorites. And that’s really saying something because, you know. Jumpsuits. Still, these have a funky Kara spin on them and we love the contrasting lapel on the white one.




Very cute dress with great detailing. We really like the shoulder ruffles but we’re not sure a piece like this would travel easily from rack to fitting room.



Both versions are gorgeous and perfect updates of her most popular design. We really like seeing her break out into prints. The shorter version is really sassy and cute, and the longer version could be sized up effectively.




We like, but don’t love this dress – which means we don’t actually agree 100% with Joe on something. We think that sash is too big and bandage-y looking. This was presented, and discussed as, the look that would size up the best, but we think a lot of larger-sized women wouldn’t like those wide straps or the thick, multi-wrapped sash around their waist.




Not super-crazy about the purple one, but the print dress is absolutely gorgeous.

In the end, Joe got Kara to do about 95% of what he asked her to do, which is pretty good, considering how … difficult she can be. It’s possible she proved her point about not re-cutting the dress for a plus-sized model because Neiman’s, Bloomingdales, and Saks all bought pieces, so she definitely did something right.

Another entertaining, creative, dramatic hour. We’re loving this show more and more. But Joe? You totally cheated on the kimono bet. As we recall, you were supposed to wear one of Kara’s kimonos, were you not? And don’t try and hide behind those shades, girl! We see you!

[Screencaps: tomandlorenzo.com]

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