By Megan McDonald May 11, 2012

Kara Laricks. NBC photo/Tyler Gordon.

If you've been watching NBC's hit TV series Fashion Star, like me, then you know there's only one episode left until the first winner, who will receive a life-changing $6 million dollar contract, is announced. And among the finalists is Manhattan-based Kara Laricks--my fave!  I really dig her artistic, menswear-inspired designs. (Click here to watch a sneak peek at next week's finale.)

I connected with Kara after the first episode, where she showed her clever signature accessory called the Collar, Stand + Tie. Had to have one; wore it to the wedding celebration of Dr. David and Yara Shoemaker at the Ringling Museum of Art.

The unisex tie is Kara's signature piece; I wore one to Dr. David and Yara Shoemaker's wedding, here with Liebe Smith Gamble.

Part of the competition is to have the ability to design capsule collections for all three stores--Saks Fifth Avenue, H&M and Macy's, which Kara has sharply and successfully done. Since episode two, she's captured the attention of Terron Schaefer, buyer for Saks. In fact, he shared his confidence in her style on national television by remarking: "We like you. We really like you." 

NBC photo/Tyler Gordon

Here are her winning styles, most of which are sold out, which can be found online and in stores.

Collared tux shirt for Saks Fifth Avenue

Patterned satin racerback dress for H&M

Wide-legged, cuffed white pants for Saks

Plaid cuffed shorts for Saks

Draped chiffon dress for Saks

Satin lapel tailcoat jacket with crimson sash for Saks

Plaid pants with slash pockets for Saks

Princess seamed plaid shift dress with back box pleat and tie belt for Saks

Pointed-lapel belted trench for Macy's


Even with her hectic schedule and preparation for the finale, Kara took some time out for a Q&A.

Qs for Kara Laricks: 

1. Your fashion design is entirely unique in a market inundated with much of the same – how do you define your style?

I define my style as a modern-day Annie Hall meets a Japanese street style aesthetic.  I love menswear-inspired clothing as well as an avant garde cut in a minimalistic color palette.


2. Tell us some interesting dynamics that happen behind-the-scenes of Fashion Star…

A truly shocking dynamic was that on the very first day of taping, I discovered my friend Ronnie was on the show!  We went to school together at the Academy of Art in San Francisco--we both graduated in 2008; he from the undergrad program in fashion design and I from the master's program.  I felt really fortunate to have a familiar face as my "partner in crime" throughout the process. 

As for other dynamics, I really wish the Fashion Star audience was able to see the dynamic between the designers and our patternmakers/sample sewers.  I grew very close with Julia [a patternmaker], who thought I was crazy for just showing a tie on the first episode, but quickly got on board when we had our great success with the Week 2 dress.. We laughed, we cried and we still email.  I hope to work with her in the future.


3. Who are your design heroes, in the fashion industry or otherwise?

There is no question my design hero is Yohji Yamamoto.  I admire so many things about this man, but what I admire most is the fact that he has stayed true to his aesthetic regardless of trends, decades, etc. I love his collaboration with Adidas, Y-3.  Mr. Yamamoto's design gives me something to think about, something to wonder about. It's more than just collections of clothing; it's art with a message each season. One of my style heroes is Tilda Swinton--regardless of the event, she stands apart from the crowd.  I guess I have something for the "odd one out"--I am always looking for the "one of these things is not like the other," to quote an old Sesame Street song.


4. Fill in the blank – While I’m working, I like to:

Have an iced skim latte with whipped cream by my side (there's one there now!). I listen to music to suit my mood (from The Smiths to Lady Gaga to Manu Chao to Azealia Banks to Erykah Badu).  And I love the "support" I get from my 14 year old standard poodle, Maz.


5. What does a Kara Laricks-styled girl wear on a Friday night?

Mmmmm...she takes a risk by standing apart--a great slouchy trouser with a menswear-inspired button down,  buttoned down! Nothing wrong with showing a little skin on a Friday night!  Maybe tuck a Collar + Tie underneath the shirt's collar and let it hang loosely.  Throw on a great pair of heels and she is on her way!  Did I mention a great jacket with interesting detail might complete this look?  Well, it would.  


6. What is your theory behind the yin and yang of your feminine/masculine designs?

I believe that we all have a little bit of both masculine and feminine within us, and I don't just mean style-wise.  I think it is important to honor all sides of our personalities, and I see dressing as a way to do just that.  I see it as my honor and privilege to provide women, and hopefully someday men, with interesting options to express how they are feeling and who they are in terms of style.


7. Tell us your current obsession…

I am currently obsessed with Iris Apfel-inspired sunglasses that I found on St. Mark's for $10.  When the lenses are down, they simply look like huge round sunglasses, but when I lift the outer lenses, dark-rimmed Iris glasses are underneath!  Foxy!  They add the perfect amount of quirkiness to any outfit.  I get so many compliments on them as sunglasses, and then when I show people how the lenses lift--well, nothing like compliments and a good laugh in the same exchange! Gotta love fashion with a sense of humor--it's meant to be fun!


8. What’s your secret talent?

I am an extremely loud clapper--yes, I just admitted it. I don't think my girlfriend would consider this a "talent," but I disagree!



Catch the Finale of Fashion Star next Tuesday at 10 p.m. on NBC--good luck, Kara!

For even more fashion news and notes, follow Heather on Twitter @heatherDUNHILL.

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