NBC’s hit fashion competition series Fashion Star has named out designer Kara Laricks as the next big brand in fashion! As the winner of Fashion Star Season 1, three of the country’s largest retailers – Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and H&M – purchased $6 million of capsule collection designs from Kara.
Before Kara entered the Fashion Star competition, she was a fourth grade teacher who left her job to work as a fashion designer. Throughout the competition she wanted to show her former students that you really can be whoever you want to be, and its ok to be yourself. In one episode she admitted her regret that she was not an "out gay, proud role model" for her students. Kara showed that she is proud of who she is during the entire season, and we admire her for that!
Each episode of the show featured a different challenge for the designers, as one of the original 14 designers was sent home each week for eight weeks. During week nine, three of the final six designers were eliminated, leaving Kara, Nzimiro Oputa and Ronnie Escalante as the Season 1 finalists.
Here is a round up of the amazing designs Kara put down the runway each week:
In the pilot episode, Kara opted to send only an accessory – her collar-tie made from parts of a men’s collared shirt – down the runway. It was a risky move, and she did not receive any sales from the buyers, and was up for elimination as a result. The three mentors, Nicole Richie, John Varvatos and Jessica Simpson, saved her from going home.
In the second episode, “Who’s Your Customer,” Kara was determined to proved she wasn’t a “one-trick pony,” as Saks buyer Terron Schaefer wondered in the pilot. The designers were challenged to design clothes with a regular consumer in mind and get feedback from a “real” customer. Kara came up with a drape-tie dress that really impressed mentor John Varvatos and the buyers. H&M’s Nicole Christie bid $50,000, and Terron bid $80,000, which started a bidding war for the dress. In the end, Terron won with a bid of $110,000 to sell the dress at Saks.
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In episode three, “Here Comes Summer,” the designers were asked to come up with looks for summer. We also got to find out a little more about Kara and her background. She was a closeted lesbian teacher, and is now happy to be out and proud doing what she loves to do – advice she gave her students but at that point wasn’t following herself. As for the design challenge, Kara made a pair of tuxedo pants (and did a pair in white, which was frightening for her as she enjoys the colors “black, black and black”), which were a “home run” according to John Varvatos. Terron agreed, purchasing the tuxedo pant for $50,000.
Episode four, “High End Appeal/Mass Market Appeal,” had the designers creating two looks: a high-end design and a lower-end version of the same item. Kara designed a tailored coat with tails that sparked a bidding war between Terron and Caprice Willard, the buyer for Macy’s. Caprice, promising to work with Kara in the future, let Terron buy the coat for $70,000, which meant Kara had sold $230,000 of designs.
In the fifth episode, “Living Department Store Window,” the remaining designers were put in groups of two or three and challenged to create a themed window display that would grab the attention of someone passing by. Kara, Nzimiro and Edmund Newton chose a nautical theme, and Kara designed shirt-dresses. Despite having used color, the buyers passed on buying Kara’s design for the first time in three weeks.
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Episode six, “Out of the Box,” challenged the designers to create an item that they had never done before. Kara designed flowing dresses that were quite the opposite of her signature androgynous look but still had Kara’s touch. Terron bid $100,000 for the dress before telling her “In 1985, when Sally Field won an Oscar for Norma Rae, she said to the public, ‘You like me! You really like me!’ That’s what I’m telling you now – we like you. We really like you.”
John, Nicole and Jessica worked one-on-one with the designers in the seventh episode, “Mentor’s Choice.” Per Nicole’s suggestion, Kara designs an off-white European women’s suit. For anyone who missed this episode, the suit prompted Jessica to inform Kara that she has a crush on her. Both H&M and Macy’s did not make an offer. Before Terron has a chance to respond, John jumped in saying, “this suit Kara did is so new – you have to take another look here. Come on, you’d be crazy for not buying this. That is such a strong piece.” Of course, Terron was just adding “some suspense,” and purchased the suit for $100,000.
Seven designers were still in the competition for episode eight, “What’s Your Campaign?” They had to create a campaign representative of their collections and a single-image ad to show off their brand. Kara nailed the challenge with her tuxedo shirt design and “genderless world” ad concept. John loved her image, he even stood up to bow and called her work “amazing.” The buyers agreed, as Caprice and Nicole both entered bids of $50,000, but Terron’s $80,000 bid ensured Saks sold the shirt.
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The ninth episode, “Buyer’s Choice,” allowed the designers to meet one-on-one with the buyers to find out what item the designers needed to round out their collections in each store. There was added pressure as each designer had to create two items for the runway. In addition, making a sale did not mean the designer was safe. Everyone was up for elimination, and three designers would be sent home.
Despite having both Nicole and Caprice bid on her designs at various stages in the competition, Kara had only sold to Terron from Saks. She needed both Macy’s and H&M to make a purchase in order to nab the Fashion Star title. Kara created a flirty collar and tie dress for H&M and a trench coat aimed at Macy’s. Caprice and Nicole both bid $60,000 on the dress, and Kara was forced to pick between them. She sold the dress to H&M. The trench coat earned a $50,000 bid from Terron, but Macy’s bought the design for $60,000.
The Fashion Star finale was quite a show, and Kara’s collections for each store were amazing. Prior to the finale, Kara sold a total of $630,000 in clothes to Saks, H&M and Macy’s. The buyers awarded the $6 million contract to Kara. Congratulations!