Fashion Star's First Winner Kara Laricks on the Stigma of Reality TV and What's Next (Plus Her Full H&M Campaign With Joan Smalls)

NBC's potentially game-changing (though not so loved by industry people) new fashion competition show Fashion Star, which focuses a bit more on business and salability than design, crowned its first winner Tuesday night: Kara Laricks! If you don't watch the show, or stopped after the first few episodes because of the backup dancers and motorcycles, Laricks was the New York-based female designer known for her edgy, slightly avant-garde designs. And we like her. She won $6 million in orders for capsule collections at Macy’s, H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue stores--all of which you can buy now. We stopped by H&M's fifth avenue flagship yesterday to see the collection and chat with Laricks and H&M "buyer" Nicole Christie, who thinks Laricks won because she had "the freshest design perspective," which they could see even before the show when they were interviewing designers.
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NBC's potentially game-changing (though not so loved by industry people) new fashion competition show Fashion Star, which focuses a bit more on business and salability than design, crowned its first winner Tuesday night: Kara Laricks! If you don't watch the show, or stopped after the first few episodes because of the backup dancers and motorcycles, Laricks was the New York-based female designer known for her edgy, slightly avant-garde designs. And we like her. She won $6 million in orders for capsule collections at Macy’s, H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue stores--all of which you can buy now. We stopped by H&M's fifth avenue flagship yesterday to see the collection and chat with Laricks and H&M "buyer" Nicole Christie, who thinks Laricks won because she had "the freshest design perspective," which they could see even before the show when they were interviewing designers.
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NBC's potentially game-changing (though not so loved by industry people) new fashion competition show Fashion Star, which focuses a bit more on business and salability than design, crowned its first winner Tuesday night: Kara Laricks!

If you don't watch the show, or stopped after the first few episodes because of the backup dancers and motorcycles, Laricks was the New York-based female designer known for her edgy, slightly avant-garde designs. And we like her. She won $6 million in orders for capsule collections at Macy’s, H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue stores--all of which you can buy now.

We stopped by H&M's fifth avenue flagship yesterday to see the collection and chat with Laricks and H&M "buyer" Nicole Christie, who thinks Laricks won because she had "the freshest design perspective," which they could see even before the show when they were interviewing designers."Even though maybe she didn’t do the best every week, in the end I feel like she was the most capable and did the best job in creating something that is signature Kara but also complements H&M’s assortment," Christie explained. As for a second season of Fashion Star, which seems to have brought H&M a lot of business (pieces have sold out in less than 30 minutes), Christie has "no idea," but says "there are talks" of one.

Several fans were crowded around to get a photo with the lovely winner. We overheard one girl say, "I just want to give her a hug." Which we totally get. Laricks was incredibly sweet and gracious and overwhelmed--but also impressively professional and poised for someone fairly new to the game. Read on to hear her thoughts on the stigma of reality television, what the judges (Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos) are really like, and what she plans to do next.

Fashionista: What made you decide to do Fashion Star? Kara Laricks: There was a lot of thought before deciding to do Fashion Star--one because I worry sometimes about the celebrity; I worry about the stigma of reality television sometimes, but when I learned that I would have the opportunity to stand in front of three of the country’s largest retailers and develop my design sensibility, that's just an opportunity that I couldn't pass up; that was the opportunity of a lifetime because cause as much as I consider myself an artist, if I’m just working on a gorgeous dress in my lower east side apartment, no one ever sees it and its never sold, then there’s no way to sustain and i really am a businesswoman also and understand that side as well, so that’s what really drew me to the show.

What did it feel like to win? The feeling was gratitude-I am so grateful for this opportunity. It’s the dream of a lifetime to have my clothes produced and distribute to have the resources to do it. Just very, very unreal.

Did you ever worry that your clothes would be too avant-garde or not mainstream enough? Of course. If there’s one message that I hope to get across to people it’s that avant garde is not necessarily scary or weird or out there, it’s different. If I can push people to take a little bit of a risk and try something different, if it doesn’t work out for you, you can take it off at the end of the day and do something different tomorrow, but you know it’s just good to have that option and it feels good to be able to provide those women who want that option with it.

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Were the mentors as helpful and nice as they seemed to be on the show? 100% and what was really wonderful to see was the three of them meld and really become supportive as a team for all of us. What you saw on TV was what we got to experience. Jessica has such a warm heart; Nicole is very eloquent with her critique and then there’s John who has this wealth of experience. Any designer would be fortunate to be in his presence.

So, what's next? What will you do after this? Tonight? Putting on my pajamas, ordering pizza. I can’t wait, i’m so excited and I cant wait to just take the time and look at everything online. I was so fortunate; H&M flew me to Stockholm for this photoshoot; it was the chance of a lifetime and it’s just now resonating to be able to see the product. It happened so long ago; I can’t wait to soak it in.

So after you soak everything in... It's going to be so interesting to see business-wise how to determine where to go from here. If there’s one thing I’ve learned throuh NBC and Fashion Star, it's the fact that people love affordable, incredible fashion. It was so exciting to watch H&M garments sell out so quickly and Macy’s garments sell out so quickly and I want the poeple who want to wear a piece of me, I want them to be able to get it and afford it...but, I’m comfortable as a Saks designer, so I don’t know. We’ll see how that’s going to come together.

Click through for photos of the full campaign starring Joan Smalls as well as individual pieces! Pretty cute, right?

Photos: Courtesy H&M