Three of fashion's biggest names, Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos, return as Fashion Star's mentors for an all-new season joining the show's brand new host, Louise Roe! The game has changed, too. This season each mentor has a team of four designers, whom they'll coach through weekly challenges - and the mentors will choose which designers will face elimination before the buyers send someone home. In addition to Terron E. Schaefer of Saks Fifth Avenue and Caprice Willard of Macy's, Express has sent a new buyer to Fashion Star, Erika De Salvatore. Tonight's challenge? Design a must-have, one-of-a-kind show-stopping garment!
Earlier in the week, on their first visit to the design studio, the mentors make an announcement: they've already handpicked their teams! Jessica has chosen Hunter Bell, Tori Nichel, David Appel and JesseRay and Garrett Gerson - the show's only duo. Hunter's thrilled because she knows Jessica knows how to sell Southern style, which is what Hunter's all about. John has chosen Amber Perley, Cassandra Hobbins, Silvia Arguello and Brandon Scott. Cassandra's psyched because her designs are menswear-inspired. Nicole's team includes Priscilla Barrosso, Bret Young, Johana Hernandez and Daniel Silverstein, who feels he's on the same page as his mentor when it comes to taking risks.
The mentors sit down with their teams for the first time, and the competitive spirit quickly kicks in. Jessica's thrilled to learn that Hunter's Southern/urban line Hunter Dixon has sold to Saks previously - until one day they pulled out, taking most of her investors along with them. Originally from Edmonton, Canada, Cassandra quit her job at Tahari to join the show. Nevertheless, she's confident Canada will make her a national hero if she became this season's Fashion Star. At age 23, Daniel is this season's overachiever, and he's all about high fashion. It's not long before a strong bond forms between him, mentor Nicole and team member Priscilla, whose vintage-inspired designs evoke a sense of whimsy.
Amber's design ethos is all about the sexy good girl, and she is the one and only person doing every single thing for her business. John spends extra time talking to her about fabric choice. Johana was raised in Compton and now she's head of her own budget-conscious line. JesseRay and Garrett have been working together for seven years. While they've sold to plenty of high-end boutiques, they've never landed a department store account. Jessica makes sure they're paying attention to the sexy and making a garment she'd be willing to wear. After all, her name is on the line! The guys decide to focus on making a less conservative dress.
With three kids, running his own business has had an impact on menswear designer Bret's marriage, and he considers Fashion Star to be his last chance. Nevertheless, he's taking a big risk, designing women's wear for his first piece. Former design director for K-Mart, Tori Nichel, is bringing her preference for high fashion to her piece, while menswear designer David is making a twofer. Brandon's hoodie is also a bit of a twofer. John cautions him to make this first piece as unique as possible. Perfectionist Silvia started her career at a Parisian couture house, so she's planning on bringing the haute.
Team John is first to hit the runway and John is thrilled with his team's designs. Amber and her sleeveless swing mini dress are first to face the buyers. John's advice on fabric choice has paid off as a bidding war ensues. Macy's bids $70,000, Saks bids $75,000 and Erika makes a strong opening statement with a $175,000 bid! Both Caprice and Terrence back down and Express wins. Up next, Silvia gets an offer from Saks for her showstopper. It turns out Terron has been following her career since he met her years ago in Milan. Sadly, Cassandra doesn't earn a bid, placing her in danger of elimination. But Macy's picks up Brandon's twofer hoodie for a cool $120,000.
Up next is Team Nicole, and the mentor is really pleased with their showing. Daniel is first to face the buyers, and Terron springs $150,000 for Daniel's show-stopping cocktail dress. Daniel's nearly in tears when Terron welcomes him to the Saks family. Macy's bids $80,000 for Priscilla's romper. Caprice comments that the keyhole collar is totally trend-right for spring. Both Macy's and Express bid for Johana's tulip dress, but Macy's wins it, and Caprice is thrilled. Bret's up last, and sadly, no one has a bid for him, which means he's eligible for elimination. For Caprice, the showstopper of the night was Bret's decision not to showcase his incredible menswear.
Team Jessica is last to take the runway, and Tori Nichel is first to face the buyers. All three of them quickly and simultaneously decline to bid. Jessica's shocked when no one bids on David's twofer utilitarian jacket. Erika comments that the market for the military look is saturated right now. Jessica's not surprised when no one bids on JesseRay and Garrett's shift dress, which just wasn't sexy enough. Too lady, and not youthful enough. Hunter's up last, and it's well worth the wait. After both Express and Macy's bid low, Jessica urges Terron to get a piece of the action. When he bids $160,000, Erika counters with $165,000. The bids keep coming until the retailers tie, having both bid up to the limit of $200,000. Now it's up to Hunter to choose...
Erika tells Hunter that her dress will see wide distribution at a great price point. All Terron says is, "Saks. Fifth. Avenue. New York." Hunter decides to stick with Saks, so Terron takes a moment to welcome her back to the Saks family. Unfortunately, everyone on Jessica's team except Hunter will be up for elimination. The mentors have to select two of the five designers who failed to make a sale to present to the buyers, who will make the final elimination. Bret and JesseRay and Garrett wind up in the hot seat. Erika votes to eliminate JesseRay and Garrett; Terron nominates Bret and Caprice agrees with him.