EW has an exclusive look at the 14 contestants who will battle it out week after week on NBC’s Fashion Star. The cast — pictured here and described in detail below — includes a variety of designers, from a former fourth-grade school teacher to a man who grew up in poverty in El Salvador.
Hosted by supermodel Elle Macpherson, Fashion Star features celebrity mentors Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie, and John Varvatos. The series will premiere Tuesday, March 13, at 9:30 p.m. with a 90-minute episode. Following that, Star’s hour-long episodes will air at 10 p.m. on Tuesdays.
The designers — with descriptions provided by NBC — include:
Barbara Bates, 55, Chicago
A recent breast-cancer survivor, Bates, is a Chicago native and designer who has been working in the fashion industry for over 25 years knows what it means to be a fighter. In 1999, she founded the Bates Foundation, which provides custom prom attire and dresses for underprivileged young women and men from inner-city Chicago schools.
Edmond Newton, 32, Atlanta, @edmondnewton
From his junior-high school days when he was voted “best dressed” to later becoming a professional male model at the age of 17, Edmond Newton has always been destined for a career in the fashion world. His ultimate dream is to create a successful fashion house and become a household name.
Kara Laricks, 38, New York City, @karalaricks
Former fourth-grade school teacher 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 women, inspired by her love of menswear and an avant-garde Japanese design aesthetic.
Lisa Vian Hunter, 47, Mercer Island, Wash., @lisavianhunter
Women’s wear designer Vian Hunter is a mother of two and lover of all things vintage. Hunter says that women are desperate for gorgeous, affordable clothing made in the USA — and that’s exactly what she intends to give them.
Lizzie Parker, 41, Seattle, @Lizzie__Parker
Parker has always made it a point to follow her dreams, even if it meant leaving something behind. That’s exactly what she did when she left her corporate job in software development to pursue a career in fashion. Parker loves designing clothing that works for the everyday consumer, sizes 0 to 16, and creating a wardrobe that truly performs for today’s modern, multifaceted woman.
Luciana Scarabello, 30, Miami, @l_scarabello
Born and raised in Argentina, Scarabello did not move to America until she attended college in Boston. Upon graduating, Scarabello went on to study at Parsons School of Design. She ultimately wants to see her dress collection expand into a line that includes separates.
Nicholas Bowes, 38, Los Angeles, @nicholasbowes
Born in Australia, 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 his own clothing line. Bowes hopes to become the next commercially viable brand.
Nikki Poulos, 43, Delray Beach, Fla., @nikkipoulos
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. Poulos could not stay away from fashion and she is selling her clothing online and in stores across the U.S., Caribbean, and Australia.
Nzimiro Oputa, 28, New York City, @nzimirooputa
A Detroit native and the youngest male of five siblings, 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. Although he credits his upbringing for his creativity, he quit his job as an engineer to pursue his lifelong dream of a career in fashion.
Orly Shani, 26, New York City, @orlyshani
In high school Shani 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. Shani who specializes in convertible fashion wants to build an empire, and with her strong entrepreneurial mindset and determination, nothing will stand in her way.
Oscar Fierro, 37, El Salvador, @theoscarfierro
Growing up in his poverty-stricken hometown in El Salvador only further fed the ambitious Oscar Fierro’s desire to become successful. Fierro 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.
Ronnie Escalante, 32, San Francisco, @escalanteronnie
Raised in the Philippines, Escalante spent most of his days in an agricultural province. At the age of 17, Escalante and his family moved to the U.S. in search of a better life and soon after, he joined the U.S. Navy where he served for four years. Keeping his chic and confident female consumers in mind, Escalante wants to keep the price point of his collection affordable.
Ross Bennett, 27, Austin, @Therbcollection
Raised in Texas, 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. Bennett studied under some of the most prestigious presidential tailors in the state. He currently has a dress shop in Austin where he designs cocktail, formal, and wedding dresses, along with suiting and garments needed for everyday at the office.
Sarah Parrott, 32, Marietta, Ga., @sarahgparrott
Parrott may be a newcomer to the fashion world, but she has always had a penchant for style. This stay-at-home mom decided to pursue her passion when she turned 30. She recently entered her first collection into 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.