By Nakisha Williams
Updated April 12, 2013 at 12:00 PM EDT
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Fashion Star

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  • TV Show

SPOILERS AHEAD! Keep reading only if you want to know details from tonight’s episode of Fashion Star.

Tonight’s episode of Fashion Star marked a series high as Saks Fifth Avenue buyer and Executive Vice President Terron Schaefer offered contestant Silvia Argüello a bid of $200,000 for her “Buyer’s Choice” challenge presentation. With her sixth consecutive bid, Argüello has become one of only two Fashion Star designers to secure bids every week. Audiences probably saw her win coming, but the impressive victory came as a complete shock to the designer.

“To be honest when I left the designing room the day before the show, I left crying,” Argüello tells EW. “I was freaking out, just because my work didn’t come out perfect and I thought, ‘I can’t believe it’s not going to be perfect, and the world is going to see it, and I’m going to be criticized in front of the whole world for it.’ Usually if something goes wrong in my atelier, only me and the people who work with me see the mistakes, and we correct the mistakes before showing our work. In this case I didn’t have time. I was telling the other designers that, if I could, I would not appear in this particular episode and not show anything.”

Luckily, she did.

For this episode’s challenge, each buyer gave each of the contestants notes on designs they wanted to see. “Express and Macy’s said they wanted a pair of pants from me, and Saks said they wanted black-and-white trend [pieces],” says Argüello. “In the beginning I thought, ‘Okay, I just did a pair of pants the week before, maybe I should just stick to the black and white that Saks is asking for and do a dress or something.’ But then I thought, ‘I have a chance to target all three buyers.’ Why wouldn’t I?”

Argüello found a happy medium by creating a black-and-white palazzo pant jumpsuit (as seen in the sketch above) that hits Saks.com following tonight’s episode. “It’s made out of several different pieces: it has the wide leg drape pants, and then I cut it from silk jersey. The top is made with thick jersey that creates structure with a slimming effect. I also added some mesh cutout pieces on the shoulders and the waistline to make it sexy, along with hook-and-eye lace trimming and a front opening.”

The spin on pants and the black-and-white trend landed her an opening bid of $50,000. But then, in a surprise move, Schaefer took out a crocodile briefcase, declared that he could do better, and made an unprecedented leap to $200,000. “He said, ‘This piece is going straight with me straight to Fifth Avenue.’ Oh my god, I didn’t know whether to cry, scream, or laugh! I could not believe it, especially with all the pressure I had and not feeling like the piece was finished well.”

Like most designers competing on reality shows, Argüello says the time crunch to create pieces — a day and a half in Fashion Star’s case — is one of the biggest difficulties of the show, but she attributes her success on her grace under pressure. “When I usually do a collection or a piece it takes me a week from the original sketch to the muslin to the corrected muslin to the final prototype and the final example,” she says. “It’s very difficult with the timing already so I think it’s very important to concentrate on your work because it’s very easy to start trying to see what others are doing and compare yourself and try to match what others are doing. I’ve been very concentrated, and I’m not looking at what others are doing. I’m my worst competitor and my worst critic, I think, in this competition — that’s what’s helped me, staying true to that.”

NEXT: Argüello’s bona fides and her Ready to Love connection

Argüello honed her craft that’s helping catch the eyes of buyers on Fashion Star at Texas A&M University (she studied French and marketing there after growing up in Honduras). Upon graduation she launched her career in Paris in Emanuel Ungaro’s accessories department, eventually moving to Milan to launched her own “wearable art” brand Rosa Clandestino (Spring 2013 looks pictured above).

Argüello may be new to the American retail market, but she’s no stranger to reality TV. In fact, she got the job on Fashion Star after being tapped to be a guest designer on Eva Longoria’s NBC dating show Ready for Love, on which her brother Ernesto is a contestant.

“I live in Milan, but I got a call from the producers of Ready for Love. The producers wanted me to fly to L.A. to do an episode around my fashion line and the involvement of Ernesto with fashion. They also wanted me, as his sister, to see the girls and meet the girls and give Ernesto my opinion about the girls. What better way than through fashion? I picked outfits for the girls and they were wearing some of my pieces. That’s how I got to L.A. When I was in L.A., some producers saw my pieces and they suggested I go out for Fashion Star.”

The designer, who had never heard of Fashion Star before the audition, would eventually move from Italy to L.A. to participate in the show after producers convinced Argüello that it would be a great opportunity for designers to showcase their brands to both the U.S. market and in the 120 other countries where Fashion Star airs.

Though being a part of the show has certainly given Argüello exposure vialooks to Saks, Express, and Macy’s (where her design sold out), it’s also helping the designer learn the American retail market just in time for the launch of her own ecommerce store, showcasing her Spring 2013 collection, on May 15. “[On Fashion Star] you have the young, the more classic and the luxurious — just there I have a major study of what America’s all about. It’s really helped with my research as I’ve been preparing to launch my next collection on my ecommerce site. I think it’s important not to just be focused on my product and the brand and what I’ve been doing in Europe, I think it’s important to understand more consumers and I want to have a relationship with my consumers. I consider them collectors.”

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Fashion Star

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