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Kara Laricks Takes the Top Prize on "Fashion Star"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    After sifting through 14 designers, including three talented finalists, the buyers on NBC's reality competition "Fashion Star" finally made their choice, buying three collections (one for each of the buyers' respective stores) from Kara Laricks for a total of $6 million.

    While the other finalists, Ronnie Escalante and Nzimiro Oputa, were praised for their sell-ability and cohesive vision, respectively, it was ultimately Laricks who won the buyers over with her distinctive point of view and varied offerings.

    For the final competition, each of the designers was tasked with creating three capsule collections -- one  for Macy's, one for Saks Fifth Avenue, and one for H&M -- that each felt tailored to each particular retailer, while simultaneously representative of the designer's overall brand. 

    In many ways, Laricks has represented the real crux of the competition: How a designer with a very specific point of view could attempt to translate that vision for three very different retailers. Not all of Laricks pieces were easy sells: Varvatos fretted over a risky drop-crotch pant in the H&M collection, while the Macy's buyer claimed she wasn't sure if Laricks' designs were something the average American woman could walk in and easily understand.

    In the final discussion between the judges and the buyers, Saks' Terron Shaefer said he "felt very strongly" about her, while Richie argued that she was "a specialty designer." But H&M's Nicole Christie wasn't easily swayed: "She should be able to translate her design aesthetic from the highest fashion level into more commercial looks," she told the group. "High fashion and commerciality are not mutually exclusive."

    In the end, perhaps the choice of Laricks over Escalante and Oputa does show that the reality competition can single out an interesting candidate -- the show has, after all, already been picked up for a second season, and Laricks fans can snap up all of her winning collections now at H&M, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Macy's.