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Written by Lais Lacher. Photographs provided by the designer.


Fashion designer Kara Laricks may have made her fashion week debut on September 9th, but many people already knew her as the winner of Fashion Star. In the reality TV show, she competed against fourteen other up-and-coming designers to take top prize for her unique genderless clothing and won a $6 million collection deal with H&M, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. The show’s mentors Jessica Simpson and Nicole Richie gave her the advice to be who you are, be you. And that is exactly what she did with her Spring/Summer 2013 collection.

The presentation was held at Pier 57, a bare industrial space that echoed her unornamented esthetic.  Fifteen models stood on podiums sporting her creations in black, white, red, and yellow. The overall presentation had an androgynous feel with minimalist details and sharp angles featured throughout.  The 1920s were clearly an inspiration with dropped waists, shift dresses, and loose fitting pants. Her looks also had many formal menswear elements such as the tuxedo tails, cummerbunds, collar ties, and bowtie shirts.  Femininity was incorporated into the looks with the inclusion of delicate fabrics like charmeuse, voile, and organza. She struck the perfect balance of all of these components with the collared blouse in ivory organza and silk charmeuse paired with the Corby tails shorts in ivory tropical wool with silk charmeuse lining.

I spoke with the effervescent designer at her presentation where she spoke of her career beginnings, her experience on Fashion Star and her collection.

Tell us about your experience on Fashion Star.
Winning Fashion Star was surreal and it still is. When I see people on the street I feel like New York is my own neighborhood with just incredibly supportive people saying that they love my work and sharing their own inspiring stories with me. My life has changed in the best and most incredible way possible.

One thing I was surprised about is that I ended up becoming great friends with the people that I was on the show with. I expected to go in and be able to design without worry, but I didn’t expect to go in and make great friends and wonderful connections for the rest of my life. And that is what happened, it was a fantastic experience.

What were you doing before Fashion Star?
I was actually sewing accessories that you can actually see on the model in the middle of this presentation with the collar tie.  I was selling these at local markets throughout New York City. It was really exciting to buy the fabric, sew the tie, sell the tie and then start all over again. But this is a different ball game.

How did you first become a fashion designer?
I have always loved clothing ever since I was little. My favorite day of the year used to be the night before school started because we got to pick out a new outfit.  So I loved styling that outfit and thinking about that outfit. I also always loved design and working with fabric on a dress form. But I taught 4th grade for ten years before I went back to school for fashion design. My mom wanted me to choose a nice safe career path, one that had health benefits. But at one point I thought I really need to honor this design bug that I have so I went back to school at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I loved every single minute of learning how to sew, drape, draw, and design.

What is your overall style?
Everything I do is a little bit of feminine inspired versus masculine inspired and the combination of the two. I love menswear detailing tailored for women and I think you will probably see that from me for years to come.

Tell us about your Spring/Summer collection and some of the trends within it.
For this specific collection I was inspired by late 1920s matchbook covers. Japanese matchbook covers to be specific because I am a huge fan of Japanese design. I particularly like Yōhji Yamamoto. I love the era of the 20s and the revolutionary androgynous spirit of women from that time. So you will see a lot of menswear inspired detailing from that period including textiles, cummerbunds, and the drop waist silhouette. As far as colors, if I could design in all black I would. I wear all black. I always have had a very minimalistic color palette. I love black and ivory, just very stark colors. However, one matchbox cover in particular had this incredible heirloom tomato red that I loved and a goldenrod color as well.  I wanted to make sure to include those colors in the collection because I know people like color.

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