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Episode 6: The Do What You're Not Good At Challenge

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Last night's Fashion Star opened with host Elle MacPherson in an incredibly dramatic, back-lit model pose. That pose of all poses was about as "fashion" as the hour got, and was followed by another recap and the fact that the NBC reality blitz has moved nearly $2 million in clothing so far.

But enough back story—the show blew straight into the first showcase, featuring Ross Bennett and Luciana Scarabello. Bennett wants to design menswear, but mentor Nicole Richie discourages it, saying she'd "rather [he] design stripper clothes than design another vest." At that, Bennett takes aim at lingerie. His version of lingerie design, however, is scouring the web before knocking something off. Which, to be fair, is basically how the industry works. Sarah Parrott is not impressed: "He found something he liked and copied it."

The lingerie (above) causes quite a stir on stage, though. Jessica Simpson whispers "so cute" to John Varvatos before the runway show is even over. His response: "Very cute!" MacPherson, who has been pimping her own lingerie line all season: "Are you trying to compete with me?" And, later, Simpson: "Someone misses his wife!" The pieces end up at H&M for $50,000—but not before a moment of restrained bitchery. MacPherson asks the not-very-busty Richie her opinion despite the fact that she "clearly" doesn't "wear a bra." Her retort, dry but diplomatic: "Thank you, Elle."

Meanwhile, we finally get a little background on Scarabello: She's a member of the Argentinian National Bowling Team. Um, anyway, she designs an adorable roll-out of not overtly sexy and incredibly structured tailored jackets (above). And she receives very positive reviews with both Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue offering $50,000. A micro bidding war follows and Macy's ends up spending $100,000 for the win. Scarabello: "I'm having a great time now!" And Caprice Willard, of Macy's: "I really think you have what it takes to get to the very end."

Next up, Parrott and Nzimiro Oputa. Parrott challenges herself with a bathing suit—she's never designed one. Apparently, she barely even wears one. She ends up with an asymmetrical bikini. Varvatos is supportive but warns that she needs to aim at Saks and Macy's, as her designs have only ever ended up at H&M. Simpson likes them but laments the dull color choices; and Parrott receives no offers. Backstage it's clear that the designer is getting very frustrated.

But what about Oputa? Oputa, who is the resident menswear designer, decides to design a dress; saying that the last time he made one for a friend it was "a mess." The designer clearly just doesn't get womenswear, declaring that women's bodies "are weird." Be that as it may, he decides to go bohemian, with Richie as his inspiration. The dresses (above) are not so great, and designer Nikki Poulos accurately describes them as something for the mother-of-the-bride. Richie is a little disappointed, but still says: "I wanna French you, you get it." Yet, Oputa receives a $50,000 offer from H&M—as the look will fit right in with the retailer's "romantic trend for the spring."

Meanwhile, Poulos decides on tailored menswear using woven fabrics, all of which are alien to her; describing the challenge as "all or nothing." As she's never made men's pants or any structured pants, she freaks out a little about fit—going so far as mocking up "junk" on her bust form. She ends up pleased, judging her own looks as sexy: "If you can't get laid in my stuff then what's the point?" The judges are less thrilled. Varvatos is "not blown away." Richie declares them "not [her] favorite," but has been surveying dudes-on-set all week and their reactions have been more favorable. Alas, she receives no offers.

Barbara Bates is also exploring Bohemian looks—she's next up along with Ronnie Escalante. Full disclosure, Bates never knew the meaning of the term Bohemian—only knowing she and her clothing aren't it. It's safe to say even after her researching, she wasn't entirely clear on the subject—aside from the discovering Richie's mastery of it. Her dresses were clunky, heavy-handed and witch-colored. Richie appreciates the effort, Varvatos openly hates it, and no offers are made. Even after Bates reminds the panel that she's "a breast cancer survivor" and "was born with club feet." In other not really related new: Bates gets worst dressed of the night for her '80s orphan get up.

Escalante does pretty well with his scuba-inspired bathing suit (above), though. Simpson likes that there's "some sexy going on," and notes the looks "could've gone Borat really quick," but ended up sexy and flattering. Willard purchases the suits for Macy's for $50,000, telling the designer he "made a one-piece sexy."

Finally, Orly Shani and Kara Laricks are up, with a tango-themed showcase complete with candelabras and lots of bordello red. Shani, who generally works in unstructured knits, goes for a tailored Confederate-style jacket. Yet, she's won't give up her whole convertible schtick. This concerns Richie and Laricks. And for good reason—the jackets inspire major Terron Schaefer side eye. Later, after no offers are made, he says she's shown "a two-for one too many times."

Laricks leaves her comfort zone by creating a long, sexy, feminine dress (above). And the prospect clearly freaks her out. But she perseveres after an emotional phone conversation with her mom. The dress is comprised of numerous sheer layers, and from the couch looks kind of iffy. But maybe you need to see it in person—Varvatos loves it: "You're out of your comfort zone and you're out of this world!" Richie, too, loves it. She declares that it's more than just a dress, it's representative of Laricks's overarching aesthetic and sensibility. That people might buy such a dress in the same way a John Varvatos customer would buy a simple white tee with a Varvatos label (Varvatos: "It's more than just a white tee shirt.") Schaefer offers $100,000 for the look, saying: "We like you, we really like you."

The bottom three this week is actually a bottom four—Bates, Poulous, Parrott and Shani. The buyers find that Bates is too limited in her age range appeal and no one on either panel is confident that Parrott can appeal to higher end retailers. Meanwhile, the mentors really need Shani's style to trump her convertibility—and this week it hasn't. Simpson, noting that the situation is a total no brainer, saves Poulos. She's had bids from literally all three retailers.

And that said, Bates is not their Fashion Star.

With that, MacPherson closes the show with: "Fashion may come and go but style is forever." How that relates to anything shown on the show is undetermined—but the sentiment is true!

Shop away people: Click here.

· Fashion Star [NBC]
· All Fashion Star coverage [Racked]