NEW YORK — By locking up Tuesday night’s finale of “Fashion Star,” Kara Laricks woke up Wednesday with something most designers never realize — exclusive signature collections in H&M, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Not bad for a woman from Kansas who taught fourth grade for 10 years before plunging into fashion. Less than 12 hours after host Elle Macpherson singled out Laricks as the winner, she was still grinning ear-to-ear standing amid her designs in H&M’s Fifth Avenue flagship here. And why not? The season finale attracted 4.9 million viewers.
Standing beneath an image of her arm-in-arm with model Joan Smalls with “As seen on NBC” in fine print, Laricks unwittingly hinted at the synergistic marketing underfoot. Her first stop of the day was a “Today” show chat with Natalie Morales, who wore one of her designs.
As someone who used to lug boxes of her $125 signature ties up and down three flights of stairs each weekend to haul them to a SoHo flea market, Laricks was bowled over by her $6 million windfall. “I don’t think it will really sink in until tonight when my girlfriend and I get home. We will probably order in a pizza and go through all the e-mails. I can’t wait to see all the messages on Facebook and Twitter.”
During her 10-year stretch as a teacher, Laricks did have an a-ha moment before deciding to enroll at the Art Institute of California. “I was sitting in a meeting and I noticed myself wondering about some fabulous pants I had seen in a store. I thought, ‘This isn’t OK for anyone, especially my students,’” said Laricks, before noting how teaching “without a doubt” gave her the people skills that have been invaluable in getting things done in fashion.
Having taped the final episode of “Fashion Star” last summer, Laricks said she is relieved more than anything to no longer have to keep the secret. She is hopeful that more collaborations and endorsement deals will follow. In the meantime, H&M, Macy’s and Saks are optimistic — although they were involved in the program from the start.
H&M’s Nicole Christie said Laricks’ 10-piece capsule collection should be a best-selling collection this spring and is available online and in 101 of the chain’s 238 stores in the U.S. “We really think it will fly,” she said, noting the order is comparable to the number of units typically planned for a collection. Macy’s also has high hopes for its assortment from Laricks, with a $79 sheath dress with a high-low hem being an early favorite, according to Caprice Willard, who, like Christie, appeared on the show. Macy’s is carrying the label in more than 100 of its stores and initial online sales are ahead of plan, she said. Saks is also “very pleased” with early sell-throughs, according to director of public relations and special events Eleanor Banco.
The Yohji Yamamoto-adoring newcomer said she was most in synch with John Varvatos, who served as a judge along with Jessica Simpson and Nicole Richie. As for whether image trumps talent in fashion, Laricks said, “That is something I was really worried about before auditioning for ‘Fashion Star.’ My goal is not to be a celebrity. Being on television, people really feel as though they connect with you and they probably buy something to have a small piece of you. But to be a designer, the talent needs to be there to back the image up. I know many celebrities will agree to put their name on a label. I wanted to be a designer.”
Laricks said the best perk that has come from her newfound fame was not the all-expense-paid trip she took to Stockholm for an H&M photo shoot, but the reactions from her former students. “Most of them say, ‘Wow, Miss Laricks — wow!’ That makes up for all the times they told me I had crazy hair in class,” she said with a laugh before turning serious. “More than anything, I am glad they see with real hard work, you can really achieve what you want to do. I have always believed in doing your best with whatever you do. But you’ve got to feel that you have so much to give.”
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)