"Where beauty, fashion, and success wear lipstick and six-inch heels"

Fashion Star’s Kara Laricks Takes Over the Fashion World

Kara Laricks has been our fashion star since March 21st, 2011, when we wrote about her Collar, Stand + Ties and her “glorious dust,” as she called it–Believe in your vision. Keep your mind wide open and be both patient and diligent. Focus on the positive tiny steps you make. And for those who may doubt you? Leave them in your glorious dust!” And she certainly did, as nothing held her back from keeping the confidence and authentic style she embodied from the start. 

NBC picked up Laricks on the new hit TV series, Fashion Star, which airs every Tuesday evening. With only a few more episodes left, Laricks has stolen the fashion heart of Saks Fifth Avenue starting from episode two. From then on, Saks just cannot seem to get enough (as can’t we). 

Fashion Star or not, one of the best qualities about this star-rising, blue-eyed lady, is her continuous positive and personable attitude towards life and ambitions. When asked if being a fourth grade teacher made an impact on her fashion career, she said, “There is no doubt in my mind that being a teacher prepared me for my fashion career. I learned how to work with and organize so many different types of people, how to balance 50 tasks in any given moment and how to use my passion to inspire others. I think those are skills that would benefit me in any career I pursue.”

We know Laricks’s students are watching her today, and cheering her on in style. Read on to find out what is in store next for Laricks, who has us wanting to pair every single outfit with a unisex tie or androgynous jacket. (Oh-so-unisexy!)

On the first episode, you came out with your signature Collar, Stand + Ties, and the buyers were unsure of what you could bring to the table; how did you go from a brilliant accessory designer to designing that first dress? 

I told myself before ever agreeing to go on Fashion Star that I would stay true to my aesthetic and design as if I were designing in my Lower East Side apartment. The first challenge on Fashion Star was to design my “signature piece.”  My collar, stand + tie IS my signature piece. I am constantly inspired by menswear and my ties are the basis for all that I design. If you look closely at each design from week to week on Fashion Star, you will see a “shout out” to my ties– whether it’s in the shape of the pattern pieces or a little bit more literal– it’s there.

Where did the idea of that first dress come from? Was it something you always imagined designing?

The dress I designed on the second episode was far from the first dress I have ever designed. When I graduated from the Academy of Art in San Francisco in 2008, I showed a small collection in Bryant Park– complete with dresses, pants, etc. I started designing accessories because they were what I could afford to produce on my own. In walks the Fashion Star opportunity… and the rest is history. I have always wished for the opportunity to design cost/worry free and Fashion Star was that opportunity. As I watch what I was able to create in a very limited amount of time on Fashion Star, it makes me extremely excited for the future.

Saks Fifth Avenue has bought your designs five times now; how does it feel to have one of the most high-end reputable department stores on Fifth Avenue be such a supporter of your designs?

Just reading your question gave me the chills.  I have always admired the designers that hang in Saks Fifth Avenue– Yohji Yamamoto, YSL, Marc Jacobs– the list goes on. I know in my heart that I am a high-end designer because I have such a love for gorgeous fabrics, elegant design and intelligent cut/drape. I also have a deep admiration for the artistry that is displayed in garments sold in Saks Fifth Avenue. To be counted amongst those artists is almost more than I can handle. I am humbled and honored.

By far, you are certainly one of the most successful (if not the most successful!) designer on FASHION STAR right now; what do you think is the most important quality to have when going through each week and facing the judges and buyers?

Without question, I believe that a confidence deep down inside about what I represent and how it is conveyed in my designs got me through from week to week. Though I may appear emotional on stage, what you see is my long time dream coming true. I just couldn’t hold back the tears.

In hindsight, I was certainly a sponge during my time on Fashion Star. I tried to soak in each bit of expertise I was so fortunate to receive from both the buyers and the mentors.

Your designs are certainly one-of-a-kind, original and innovative; did you ever doubt that people would not like your creations? What made you move past any doubts or fears you may have had?

I know that my design aesthetic is not for everyone . But, I do not aim to design for everyone. I want my customer to feel like she is getting something different, something special– a garment that really stands for something unique. I feel that dressing is an important way to express ourselves and we are all unique. I certainly don’t want to look like four or five other people on the train each morning and I think my customer wants to stand apart from the crowd as well. I feel like it’s my job as a designer to give her those garments, and give her that confidence. If I had any doubts or fears going into the show, they quickly faded away when I realized the powerful platform I had to reach “my girls.” 

We saw on your FB Page that tomorrow’s episode will give you the unique opportunity to define your brand! Can you give us three words that describe your brand best? 

Masculine meets Feminine, Intelligent + Innovative, Unique (I realize that’s more than three, but I couldn’t resist!)

After FASHION STAR is over, what do you plan on doing with the Kara Laricks brand? What is the next step for you that we can look forward to?

My dreams continue to come true day-by-day… my first order of business will be to try to make available all of the garments that were not purchased on Fashion Star that so many women want! I see big things in the future and promise to keep you posted.

So, who was your favorite judge on FASHION STAR? 

John Varvatos’s climb to success, knowledge of design and embodiment of his brand was incredibly inspiring. Jessica has one of the warmest, most encouraging hearts I know. Nicole has that effortlessly cool air about her, and was so concise and clear in her critique.  Caprice from Macy’s is so articulate and passionate, and Nikki is such a strong advocate for her H&M customer. But Terron, sweet Terron, I called him “The Godfather.” His confidence in my vision was simply empowering.

What is the one valuable lesson you’ve learned from being on FASHION STAR week by week?

As for one valuable lesson– I learned that believing in your vision is vital. If you believe, others will too. Again, simply empowering.