As New York shovels up the Fashion Week embers around town after the onslaught, The Observer still has a few loose ends. One thing we wanted to know in all the ruckus was how the new comers had fared.
Kara Laricks, the winner of NBC reality show Fashion Star, is certainly a new face in the crowded sea of designers. Under the tutelage design mentors Jessica Simpson, John Varvatos and Nicole Richie, Ms. Laricks convinced the buyers’ judging panel from H&M, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue that her creations were worthy of the $6m capsule collection award. The show was a hit: Nielsen TV Ratings Data reported 4.81 million viewers for the finale, and NBC has already renewed Fashion Star for a second season and begun casting. We caught up with Ms. Laricks after her first presentation at Runway@Pier 57 last week to get all the buzz about her début. Were her masculine-feminine-meets-1920s-Japanese matchbox looks a triumph or did she she fall flat?
What did it feel like to finally present your first bona fide fashion week presentation?
I felt vulnerable! In the past, if my collection was not well received, I was under the protective wing of The Academy of Art University, NBC, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, H&M … this time, the pressure was all on me. However, there was never any question as to whether or not I would continue designing post Fashion Star and I knew “sticking my neck out there” would be worth the risk no matter what the response. Now that my first collection has been shown at New York fashion week and the reviews are rolling in, I feel exhilarated, proud and accomplished. Can’t wait for the next!
Any dramas or disasters leading up to the big day?
Of course – wouldn’t be fashion without a little bit of drama … one of my models was stuck at a Calvin Klein fitting until minutes before my presentation – thank goodness for my talented (and speedy) hair and makeup team.
What did you do to keep calm?
I am always amazed when people remark that I appear calm, as I am usually a ball of nerves on the inside. However, I instantly calm down when I pause and take a look around at all of the incredible people who support me.
So now that Fashion Star is over, what has been your biggest struggles?
Putting together my first collection hasn’t been a steep learning curve, but a right angle. For the first time, I have had to figure out how to produce an entire line, secure PR, a venue, models and the list goes on. The biggest challenge is keeping my fans and consumers informed of the process. Fans of Fashion Star were used to seeing a garment one evening and buying it the following day. In the “real” world, it takes six months to develop a collection, show the collection to buyers and take orders—then add on another six months for production and delivery to stores. It’s tough not to get the people what they want when they want it!
Are you still tight with the cast?
Absolutely! Nzimiro, Nikki, Sarah and Edmond were at my presentation, cheering me on. I also received well wishes from the rest of the cast that wasn’t able to be there. I had no idea a reality competition would turn into real friends, real support and real dreams come true.
What’s one thing you absolutely hate about fashion week?
The fact that when I am presenting my own collection, I do not have time too see other designers’ work—I am still catching up— so grateful for Style.com!