PHOTOS All 14 designer contestants for NBC’s Fashion Star

The genre of fashion reality TV is hitting the big time as NBC is running with the new show Fashion Star. Here is a summary of what to expect from the show via the official website:

NBC kicks off the new year with the new reality competition series “Fashion Star,” which will search for the next big brand in fashion. Featuring host and executive producer Elle Macpherson along with celebrity mentors Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos, the series will give 14 unknown designers the chance to win a multi-million dollar prize to launch their collections in three of America’s largest retailers: Macy’s, H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Each week, the show will begin with an exhilarating fashion show unlike anything seen before featuring musical performances, dancers and models in front of a studio audience. Every fashion show will be built around a weekly challenge that is designed to further develop and expand the designers’ brands.

The series will feature clothes designed for America to buy, and it has enlisted three of the world’s top retailers to help in the decision-making process. Caprice Willard (Macy’s), Terron E. Schaefer (Saks Fifth Avenue) and Nicole Christie (H&M) will serve as the judges who make on-the-spot decisions as they vie for the right to purchase and exclusively carry the work of the up-and-coming designers each week.

At the end of each episode, America will have the chance to immediately purchase the winning designs showcased on the episode that week. What viewers see on TV that night will be on the streets and in stores immediately. With just a single trip down the runway, “Fashion Star” will change the lives and fortunes of these aspiring designers forever.

Each week, designers who do not sell any of their items to the buyers will be up for elimination. In addition, celebrity mentors Simpson, Richie and Varvatos will be able to save one of these designers from the chopping block.

Now that you have the concept, check out the official cast photo and bio information for each of the 14 designer contestants competing on Fashion Star.

Barbara Bates:

Barbara from Fashion Star

A recent breast cancer survivor, Barbara Bates is a Chicago native and designer who has been working in the fashion industry for over 25 years and knows what it means to be a fighter. After struggling as a teen mom, Bates began her fashion career while working as a secretary for the First National Bank of Chicago by selling her designs. She began selling designs in the bathroom during her lunch breaks. Within two years, she expanded her clientele and had her own showroom. Bates has designed for numerous celebrities, including Whitney Houston, Michael Jordon, Steve Harvey and Cece Winans. In 1999, she founded the Bates Foundation, which provides custom prom attire/dresses for underprivileged young women and men from inner-city Chicago schools.

Ross Bennett:

Ross from Fashion Star

Raised in Texas, Ross Bennett is a mixture of a big-city kid and true country boy who likes to hunt, fish and design custom one-of-a-kind dresses and other tailored items for women. He currently has a dress shop in Austin, Texas where he designs cocktail, formal and wedding dresses, along with suiting and garments needed for everyday at the office. When he’s not working on dress designs at his family’s ranch, he spends his time on the lake with friends or in the studio creating custom clothing. Bennett cites his wife as his biggest supporter and muse, saying, “Without her there would not be The Ross Bennett Collection.”

Nicholas Bowes:

Nicholas from Fashion Star

Born in Australia, Nicholas Bowes began his career in fashion as a model in the mid-1990s but soon cultivated his fashion interests into a screen-printing business. This venture led to designing vintage tees and leather jackets and ultimately creating the brand KRMA Clothing. After exhausting the Australian market, Bowes relocated to Los Angeles in 2006. He expanded his street lux line KRMA to wovens, rock-star leggings, chic leather jackets and developed “Nicholas Bowes,” a black-label line for men. With a slew of A-listers, including Alicia Keys, Fergie, Pink, Nina Dobrev and Adrian Grenier, already fans of his line, Bowes hopes to become the next commercially viable brand.

Ronnie Escalante:

Ronnie from Fashion Star

Growing up in the Philippines, Ronnie Escalante spent most of his days on an agricultural province. At a young age, Escalante was surrounded by fashion, as his cousin worked as a “beader” in a local fashion house. However, it was in grade school that his knack for fashion design flourished. Escalante would sketch clothing designs in the back of his school notebooks. At the age of 17, Escalante and his family moved to the U.S. and soon after, he joined the U.S. Navy where he served for four years. After his military service, he enrolled at a fashion design school in San Francisco where his senior-year collection won him a prestigious internship at Chado Ralph Rucci and Zac Posen in New York City. He hasn’t looked back since. He envisions his clothing line growing into a lifestyle brand complete with apparel, accessories, shoes and bags. Keeping his chic and confident female consumers in mind, Escalante wants to keep the price point of his collection affordable.

Oscar Fierro:

Oscar from Fashion Star

Growing up in his poverty-stricken hometown in El Salvador only further fed the ambitious Oscar Fierro‘s desire to become successful. Love him or hate him, he is a thriving businessman who owns four assisted-living facilities and has designed several clothing lines, including couture dresses and a “to go” line, which features women’s wear for under $30. The fiery, 4’11” designer always speaks his mind and has established a reputation in the fashion industry as a true diva. Don’t expect this self-proclaimed “master manipulator” to back down from anyone – he will do almost anything to win.

Lisa Vian Hunter:

Lisa from Fashion Star

Women’s wear designer Lisa Vian Hunter is a mother of two and lover of all things vintage. She owns her own boutique, Vian Hunter House of Fashion, where she sets the ambience for customers by playing classic films from the 1950s and 1960s. Her staple design piece is the popular “little black dress,” which she creates with the finest fabrics produced in the U.S. Hunter says that women are desperate for gorgeous, affordable clothing made in the U.S.A. – and that’s exactly what she intends to give them.

Kara Laricks:

Kara Fashion Star

Former fourth-grade schoolteacher Kara Laricks always told her students to be true to themselves. Finally, she took her own advice and pursued a career in fashion. She designs androgynous clothing for men and women, inspired by her love of menswear and an avant-garde Japanese design aesthetic. Best known for her hoodie scarves and collar-and-ties, Laricks puts a spin on what is deemed traditional women’s fashion. She considers her partner Melissa to be her biggest supporter because she encouraged her to make fashion her full-time job.

Edmond Newton:

Edmond from Fashion Star

Born in Ohio, Edmond Newton grew up in the small country textile mill town of Union, South Carolina. The son of a military soldier and a hairstylist, he became fascinated by images of his father’s worldly travel and developed a love for the arts. Fashion became a huge interest as he traveled the country with his mother attending hair shows and fashion events. From his junior high school days when he was voted “best dressed” to later becoming a professional male model at the age of 17, Newton has always been destined for a career in the fashion world. Newton has begun the process of building what he considers to be his fashion empire brick by brick. His ultimate dream is to create a successful fashion house and to become a household name.

Nzimiro Oputa:

Nzimiro from Fashion Star

The youngest male of five siblings, Nzimiro Oputa, was no stranger to hand-me-downs from his older brothers while growing up. The beginning of Oputa’s fashion creativity was finding innovative way to transform his brother’s old clothes into new designs. He was able to use his experiences growing up in Detroit to fuel his creativity. Although he credits his upbringing for his creativity, he is proud to leave his hometown with his dreams still intact.

Lizzie Parker:

Lizzie from Fashion Star

Nikki Poulos:

Nikki from Fashion Star

Nikki Poulos grew up on a farm with no electricity in the Australian Outback on 54,000 acres of land. With no television – and only the outdoors to entertain her and her siblings – they were forced to be creative. Sewing soon became her favorite pastime. In the early 1990s, Poulos created an eco-friendly baby clothing line called “ecobaby,” which she sold in open-air markets, and eventually expanded the business to sell in major department stores. Poulos quickly experienced much success and, after five years, sold her company and decided to go back to school and study marine biology. After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree, she worked in marine research and coral reef conservation. However, Poulos could not stay away from fashion for too long. Now she is selling her clothing online and in stores across the U.S., Caribbean and Australia.

Lizzie Parker has always made it a point to follow her dreams, even if it means leaving something behind. That’s exactly what she did when she left her corporate job to pursue a career in fashion. She embarked on her journey with two used sewing machines she bought off of the Internet – and loads of passion. Parker now owns a successful boutique in Washington that sells her own clothing line “Lizzie Parker.” She considers her children the driving force behind her success because they inspire her daily to be the best she can be. Parker loves designing clothing that works for the everyday consumer, sizes 0-16, creating a wardrobe that truly performs for today’s modern, multifaceted woman.

Sarah Parrot:

Sarah from Fashion Star

Sarah Parrott may be a newcomer to the fashion world, but she has always had a penchant for style. Parrott dreamed of attending fashion school in New York, but her life’s journey led her instead to marriage and giving birth to a baby boy. However, when Parrott turned 30 years old she decided to go after a lifelong dream – creating her own clothing line. She recently entered her first collection in the Charleston Fashion Week and won the People’s Choice Award. With such a successful first showing, Parrott is an emerging designer to keep in sight.

Luciana Scarabello:

Luciana from Fashion Star

Born and raised in Argentina, Luciana Scarabello did not move to America until she attended college in Boston, where she learned English and earned her degree in marketing. Upon obtaining her degree, Scarabello went on to study at Parsons School of Design. Immediately after graduating Parsons, she got to work making her dreams come true. What started out as making dresses for consignment stores turned into a full-blown dress line aptly named “Scarabello,” which is now sold in over 100 stores across the country. She ultimately wants to see her dress collection expand into a line that includes separates.

Orly Shani:

Orly from Fashion Star

Orly Shani‘s father came to America from Israel with nothing more than the desire to have a piece of the American dream. Thanks to his strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit, he now has a thriving business. Shani’s mother was born and raised in Southern California in an incredibly artistic family. The entrepreneurial spirit of her father and the creativity of her mother were passed on to Shani, who found a way to create everything she wanted. In high school, she was determined to emulate the clothes she loved in magazines and would spend a few dollars at local thrift stores and transform what she bought into masterpieces. This later became her first business venture, Orly Couture. After taking a pattern-making class at FIT, Shani quickly realized it was the business and creative side of fashion she loved, and not the technical. She now has her own brand of multi-functional and cozy clothing, called Tuc+Wes. Shani wants to build an empire, and with her strong entrepreneurial mind-set and determination, nothing will stand in her way.


Looks like they’ve rounded up a great cast of people with various levels of experiences and ideas in and for the fashion industry. The premiere of Fashion Star is set for Tuesday, March 13th 9:30/8:30c.