Caprice Willard, vice president/regional planning manager for women's apparel for Macy's Southwest Region, and featured buyer for NBC's "Fashion Star"

Caprice Willard, vice president/regional planning manager for women’s apparel for Macy’s Southwest Region, and featured buyer on NBC’s “Fashion Star”

*Season 2 of NBC’s “Fashion Star” begins Friday with 12 new designers competing for a multi-million dollar prize and the launch of their collections at Express, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.

But things will look a bit different on the stage this year.

Nicole Christie of H&M

Nicole Christie of H&M

Gone is H&M and its buyer Nicole Christie, replaced by Express and its representative Erika De Salvatore. Also, executive producer Elle Macpherson hands her hosting duty to Glamour Magazine’s fashion editor-at-large Louise Roe. So far, no reason has been given for the changes.

The goal each week remains the same. Contestants are given a challenge to design clothing with a certain look, feel and function. They must work in teams to create looks for the runway, where the buyers are waiting – in “Shark Tank” fashion – with offers to carry the items in their stores – the following day. [The entire season 2 was taped in July and August.]

“We were very committed to wanting to make sure everything would be available immediately, so making sure we backed into the production schedule to be able to deliver the expectations of the viewers was critical,” said Macy’s buyer Caprice Willard, who returns this year along with Terron E. Schaefer of Saks to bid for collections against Express. Below, Caprice states the ultimate goal of “Fashion Star.”

Among the season 2 designers hoping to woo the buyers is Tori Nichel, a Michigan native who has already won several business honors: the 2009 eBay Sellers Challenge Competition, and the 2007-2008 Miller Brewing Co. MUES Grant. Also Forbes has said she’s “one to watch,” and Elle magazine took note of her “exquisite tailoring.” Watch an interview with Tori below.

Also returning are all three mentors: Nicole Richie, Jessica Simpson and John Varvatos.

“Fashion Star” season 2 premieres Friday, March 8 at 8 p.m. Watch a promo below.