Of course, the people they really need to impress, as always, are the buyers: H&M's Nicole Christie, Saks Fifth Avenue's Terron Schaefer, and Macy's buyer Caprice Willard. Let's get the show under way!
Kara Laricks & Ross Bennett
Nicole's mentoring Kara, and reveals that she wants her to make a full suit this week! Kara's "thrilled" with the suggestion... but "not thrilled" about the fact that she now has to create three full suits in a week. Ouch! She admits that colour can be a challenge for her, but Nicole urges her to go for an off white. "I love a white suit," she admits. Still, Kara's runway-mate Ross isn't convinced by her drop crotch pants. "I don't know how you could think that's sexy," he says. "I just don't see her style of clothing in America anywhere."
But what's Ross doing? He's working with John, who suggests making a "chic, elegant dress". Ross agrees to move away from his tailoring but adds that it will still have to have his signature on it. However, at the fabric store things get very tense as Ross disagrees with John's suggestions about the fabric. "He just doesn't understand my vision," Ross complains, while John claims that Ross is "not listening to [him] or anybody else".
Will Ross's decision to go his own way pay off? He's certainly struggling in the design studio as it turns out the fabric he's bought is very hard to work with. He describes his dresses as "a f**king disaster", but it's time for the runway. Will the mentors and buyers agree? John's disappointed, saying that Ross "missed the mark" - his flowy gowns weren't really chic, though there were nice touches. Actually, the belts and collars "frumped" the dresses up! And it seems the buyers agree - Ross gets no offers, with Nicole blaming the fabric.
Kara's women's suit, on the other hand, impresses the mentors as Jessica says she now has a crush on Kara. And when neither H&M nor Macy's make an offer, the mentors are shocked - John even intervenes! "This suit Kara did is so new," he says. "You have to take another look here. Come on, you'd be crazy for not buying this. That is such a strong piece." But it turns out Terron was just being a tease - he makes a $100,000 offer! "I wanted to add some suspense," he jokes, describing Kara's clothes as "really beautiful".
The mentors teach the designers
Before the next showcase, we get to see the mentors showing the contestants what it's really like to be a designer! John takes them to his flagship store to say that though he's the "toughest" one, it's only because he knows what it's like in the industry. Elsewhere, Nicole takes her group to a vintage store to teach them about inspiration, while Jessica invites Sarah and Luciana to her design studio to reassure them that sometimes they'll be rejected - they just have to pick themselves up.
Nzimiro Oputa & Sarah Parrott
But it's time for the next pair of designers! John's working with Nzimiro and advises him to move away from sportswear-driven clothes this week and try out a tailored suit. He warns him not to include too many details, but Nzimiro says he has to keep the Nzimiro signature. "Hopefully my gut will serve me well," he says.
Elsewhere, Jessica tells Sarah that they want an "elegant" dress from her - they need her to broaden her horizons so she can sell to both Macy's and Saks as well as to H&M. Sarah says Jessica really helped her figure out what to do... but she's not confident about her dress. Kara notes that Sarah always second guesses herself and adds that she hopes she will gain some confidence this time. But Sarah's really not happy with her clothes: "It's looking cheap."
Unfortunately, John seems to agree, telling Jessica that Sarah's faux wrap dress is "terrible" when it hits the Runway. "I don't hate 'em, hate 'em," Jessica says, unconvincingly. Afterwards, Jessica says that she wanted something a bit more "elegant and classy" from Sarah and would have liked to have seen something more structured. Sarah admits that she was "completely lost" this week, but Nicole tells her: "I need you, no matter what, to stand so deep in the ground and say, 'Yeah, these are my designs and I'm so proud of them'."
The buyers must agree as Sarah gets no offers. Nicole Christie agrees with her namesake, saying that Sarah's negativity isn't going to persuade the buyers to make an offer. But she still says that Sarah's done a good job up to now. Backstage, Sarah begins to cry and says that she does not want to lie if she doesn't like something.
On the other hand, John loves Nzimiro's two-piece suit - he would have done "some tweaking" but adds that he is "really proud" with what Nzimiro did in such a small timeframe. For his part, Nzimiro says the time he spent with John was "priceless". But surprisingly, none of the buyers make an offer ("I'm totally surprised," host Elle Macpherson admits.) Caprice explains that some of the detail actually took away from the otherwise fashion-forward suits.
Ronnie Escalante & Orly Shani
Orly's working with John this week - "He gives me tough love, but really usable advice and criticism". John wants her to make a dress that mixes ideas of soft and tough (and Orly's determined not to make anything convertible this week following her troubles in the last couple weeks). The pair also seem to get on well while fabric buying, but will the clothes be a hit?
Meanwhile, Nicole's working with Ronnie and says she wants him to make a "stunning" evening dress. "You're like a big pr*cktease," she tells him. "It's time to just be a full-blown sl*t." Ronnie admits that it's hard for him to come out of shell but decides to dig deep. Still, when Ross sees his designs he whispers that they have "no hanger appeal". Ronnie vows not to listen: "Since I started getting bought, other designers perceive me as competition."
He doesn't need to listen to Ross, anyway - his evening dress wins over Nicole, who says he did an "excellent job" (though she advises him to work on the fit in the midsection). And Jessica loves them too: "I wouldn't mind having you on board to design my bridesmaids' dresses!" There's good news from the buyers, too, as Macy's makes a $50,000 offer. "It's great to find someone who really has an eye and an attention to detail [in evening dresses]," Nicole says.
Can Orly's column dress do well too? John thinks she's done a "great job" and praises the zipper detail. Before long, Orly's sparked a bidding war between Saks and H&M! Both eventually settle on $70,000, so it's up to Orly to choose. Both Terron and Nicole try to convince Orly to pick them, but she eventually goes for H&M since they've never bought her before. "It's an amazing dress," Nicole tells her. "I can't wait to go see it!" Orly smiles.
Nikki Poulos & Luciana Scarabello
Jessica is working with Luciana and advises her to try a structured dress, since her jacket last week did so well. Luciana's pleased to try it out and has fun with Jessica at the fabric store. She admits that the beginning of the competition was "kind of rough" for her, but she can see herself winning now...
But Nikki's not having such a good time - she's not happy when Nicole suggests making a short, '60s mod style dress. And at the fabric store, she's worried that she can't find any suitable prints ("Nikki's freaking out," Ross says. "There's other things besides silk jersey you can use.") Nicole reminds Nikki that she does not want her to send something down the runway she's not comfortable with, but Nikki's still worried...
In the end, her mod mini dress prompts Nicole to say that she wanted to bring out Nikki's sense of different decades and that she did a "great job". Unfortunately, the buyers don't agree as none of them make an offer. Nicole Christie explains that she wants Nikki to push herself more.
But Luciana's structured dress is a hit with the mentors - Jessica says it's "cute", praises her fabric choices and says Luciana has grown into being a "great designer". John agrees, saying that the dresses could be bought by all three stores. But will she get any offers? Yes - both Saks and H&M make a $60,000 offer!
Eventually, H&M wins with a $70,000 offer - Terron explains that he'll wait to see what the next round brings from Luciana. Nicole Christie, though, says she loves the structure of Luciana's dresses, the fabric, and the fit: "You should be extremely proud." And Luciana has become the first designer to sell to all three stores!
Who's Going Home?
But now we have to find out who's going to be sent home. Nikki, Ross, Sarah and Nzimiro are all called back on stage to see if they've been saved by the mentors. "This week is very, very hard," Nicole says. "We had to look at who we think past this competition is going to take it to the next level. We went with Nzimiro." Nzimiro promises not to let them down!
But which designer will not be as lucky? Caprice says that the buyers were hoping Nikki would "step up" her game this week and she needs to show more range, while Terron points out that neither Macy's nor Saks have bought anything from Sarah. And Nicole says that they have seen "moments of brightness" with Ross stepping out of his comfort zone, but he didn't meet the challenge tonight and they're not sure he could design for all three stores.
Still, it's down to Terron to deliver the verdict: "Sarah, you are not our Fashion Star." She's managed to sell $300,000 worth of clothes over the course of the competition - not bad!
"Leaving is definitely bittersweet," Sarah says. "I had high hopes of making it further. On the flipside of that, I'm so grateful that I even made it this far... I'm really, really excited to see where I'm at a year from now."
Fashion Star airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on NBC.