The journey that began with 14 undiscovered fashion talents is about to reach its exciting conclusion. The finalists are vying for the ultimate prize in fashion, one that no other designer in history can claim - to have a collection in all three stores, H&M, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue, worth $6 million. The three finalists are former teacher Kara Laricks, engineer Nzimiro Oputa, and underdog Ronnie Escalante. For tonight's runway showcase, each designer will create three head-to-toe looks for each store. At the end of the night, viewers will be able to purchase the winning designer's full collection. But for now, the audience is going to have to sit tight, because Jessica Simpson is showing her 2012 Spring Collection first. Afterwards, Jessica says she feels like she's flying, because she's never seen her clothes on the runway before!
This week, the designers were asked to create three looks for each retailer. First, they focus on H&M. Buyer Nicole explains that H&M is known for selling the latest trends. H&M looks for cutting edge, commercial designs, and they want designers who work ahead of trends and keep the customer in mind. While H&M loves a unique perspective, Nicole is hoping Kara can focus her creativity into something that will sell to H&M customers. Nzimiro is also extremely creative, but for Nicole, his designs aren't always executed as well as they could be. Nicole is pleased with Ronnie's evolution throughout the competition, but she still hopes he can show more versatility.
Ronnie decides to focus on '70s glam for his H&M collection. He will create a jumpsuit, a suit and a flirty cocktail dress. John is hoping Ronnie can use everything he learned at Zac Posen and Ralph Rucci, and spread his wings. The mentors are surprised to see Ronnie so confident going into the finale. Kara tells the mentors she's planning to design a bright trousery short for H&M, while Nzimiro decides to create two menswear looks. He's also going to take a risk, creating one female look.
After the H&M runway showcase, Elle turns to the mentors for comment. John thinks H&M will love Kara's shirt dress, but her suit features pants with a very low crotch, which he thinks is too "crotchety." Elle points out Nzimiro's parents in the audience, introducing Nicole as their son's new girlfriend. Nicole admits that she and Zemimi are soul mates. When Jessica points out Nzimiro's scarf, he claims it's actually Nicole's panty hose. When it comes to Nzimiro's clothes, Nicole admits she didn't think designing one look for women was a good idea, but Nzimiro proved her wrong. Jessica was hoping Ronnie would have used more color when designing for H&M, but she loves his designs.
Elle turns to Nicole for comment on the designers' looks. Nicole loves Kara's choice of commercial colors for spring, and her capsule collection is high fashion and commercial at the same time. If she were going to do anything different, it would be the drop crotch on the suit pant. It's a bold choice, but most likely difficult for the H&M customer. Nicole loves the range Nzimiro showed with his designs, and his women's outfit "blew her socks off." While she loves Ronnie's clothing, she agrees with the mentors on color choice. Still, she can see his clothing selling at H&M.
Over the past 80 years, Saks has become synonymous with luxury and attention to detail. Nzimiro finds Terron virtually impossible to please. Terron admits he thinks Nzimiro uses too many bells and whistles on his garments. Kara loves Terron, whom she holds responsible for keeping her in the competition, and she believes that he truly sees her for exactly who she is. Ronnie is feeling nervous, and rightly so. Terron doesn't think Ronnie has shown his full potential; his detail becomes repetitive, but his credentials show that he has what it takes to design for Saks. Ronnie decides to create a structured dress, a full suit and a day dress for Saks. Kara's excited. She's creating a pair of pants that is half-skirt, and she knows Saks is the right place for it. Nzimiro has given his collection a concept and titled it "From Beach to Boardwalk." He knows it's his last hurrah, so he's going to be confident and go big.
After the Saks runway showcase, Elle turns to the mentors. John calls Kara's dress "friggin' gorgeous." Her trench coat is gorgeous too, as are her skirt/pants. He's not that crazy about the orange top, which is a little Halloween, but all her other designs leave him feeling inspired. Jessica thinks Nzimiro nailed it; he's sexy, and he knows what a man is about. Nicole thinks Ronnie killed his white suit; this is his best showcase yet. Elle asks Terron to start with Kara. Terron claims that when he first met Kara, he made a mental note to keep an eye out for her because she really understands his aesthetic. He loved her tailcoat and pant, and her glamorous evening dress is, in his words, "stellar." Once again, he reminds Kara that she is a fashion leader, not a follower. Terron loved Nzimiro's designs too - it's the perfect wardrobe for a beach weekend. Ronnie sent three strong looks onto the runway, but Terron's not sure how they comprise a capsule collection. Ronnie defends his clothing, explaining what he loves about his looks.
Macy's is America's department store, and they want to present diverse looks for all walks of life. Caprice hopes the designers will create approachable looks for her customers. She knows Kara's on a roll; Caprice's only concern is that Kara will present a broad enough range given Macy's diverse customers. Kara knows she can't go too crazy and wants to make something that real women want. Caprice thinks Ronnie has done a great job of establishing himself as an amazing dress designer. But what would his lady wear before 5:00 p.m.? Caprice believes in Nzimiro and his creativity, even though she thinks he's so creative, that sometimes, it's hard for him to pull back. Jessica thinks Nzimiro's designs are dead on for Macy's, a compliment Nzimiro loves. To design an entire collection for Macy's would be the greatest experience of his life.
In planning her designs for Macy's, Kara knows that she's not as commercial a designer as either Nzimiro or Ronnie. Nzimiro thinks Ronnie is his main competitor in this regard. After the Macy's showcase, Jessica gushes that Kara never disappoints; she always has something great to show. Although she thinks Kara's designs are a little out there, she hopes the American woman is challenged to give them a try. John calls Nzimiro his brother from another mother. He plugged right into Macy's and he hit a home run. Although Ronnie has been something of a dark horse, John complements Ronnie's suit, though his dress was a little unbalanced.
Caprice addresses Kara first. She absolutely thinks there's a space for Kara's capsule collection on their contemporary floor, especially her suit. Every single piece in that look can stand alone; she loves the versatility. She thinks these looks are as accessible as Kara's designs have been up until now. The question remains - is she accessible enough? Although Caprice wasn't sure Nzimiro understood the Macy's customer, Caprice now knows he totally nailed it. He stayed easy and casual; she wonders if it would be possible to incorporate some structured looks. Caprice loves Ronnie's suit and his color-blocking dress. Each of Ronnie's items was a perfect stand-alone piece - but do they work together as a collection?
The buyers and mentors gather to discuss the evening. Who will be America's first Fashion Star? Mentor Nicole Richie throws her support behind Nzimiro, claiming his brand signature is clear. Caprice admits he listened to everything she said and hit it on the head for Macy's. Terron very strongly feels that Kara has hit it out of the ballpark every week. Nicole of H&M clarifies: Kara has hit it out of the ballpark every week for Saks. Nicole Richie adds that Kara is a specialty designer and may not speak to America the way Ronnie will. When John remarks that Ronnie has been the strongest contender over the last four weeks, Nicole Richie suggests putting the designers looks side-by-side. What about Ronnie's suit vs. Kara's suit? More American women will buy Ronnie's suit. Caprice knows Ronnie's designs would be more salable than Kara's, but she's got a lot of Ronnies on her selling floor.
Elle calls the designers to the stage one last time to face the mentors - do they have any last words? John acknowledges the 11 eliminated designers sitting in the audience - we haven't heard the last of them! Nicole reminds the three finalists that neither she nor Elle, nor Jessica, nor John have sold to H&M, Macy's and Saks. Her respect for the finalists is deep, and they should be proud of their accomplishments. Jessica tears up, explaining the designers have inspired her to become a better designer. Finally, it's time to face the buyers for the final time this season. All three buyers speak at once as their boards light up with $2 million offers. America's first Fashion Star is Kara Laricks!