A NATURAL-BORN STAR
DESIGNER TAMIA ROBINSON, THE DAUGHTER OF SINGER SMOKY ROBINSON, TUNES IN TO TWEENS.
Byline: Marcy Medina
LOS ANGELES — She didn’t exactly follow in her father’s footsteps, but Tamla Robinson has found her own form of creativity.
“I used to tell my mom that I wanted to live in a chateau in Paris and be a fashion designer, and when I was in junior high, I would always win Best Dressed,” said Tamla Robinson, explaining the seeds of her passion for fashion.
While she operates from her home in Beverly Hills, not Paris, Robinson, the daughter of legendary singer Smoky Robinson, is following her childhood dream. The 29-year-old designer of Born Star, a two-year-old baby clothing line, has just welcomed a new addition, a four-month-old “tween” and boys’ and girls’ line called Natural Born Star.
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” she said. “Having my daughter (who’s now three) really motivated me, because this is all for her.”
Robinson said she had noticed a need in the market for “fashionable, cool clothes for five- to 10-year-olds.” She added, “There are way too many bows and ruffles in the market.”
Robinson’s newest line offers logo T-shirts and pique polo shirts for girls and boys, as well as nylon activewear, denim and a casual dressy line of leather and suede. She describes it as much more European in flavor than Born Star, which she said is urban. The line sells in specialty stores across the country, like Kids Kingdom in Iowa, My Kidz Kloset in Michigan, Kid’s Generation in New York, Cowboys and Angels in California and the Plaid Giraffe in Ohio. She’s also sold to stores as far away as Japan and Venezuela.
Traveling with her father also gave Tamla a global sense of style and a love of European design.
“I still read European fashion magazines for inspiration,” she said. “And I used to love the actress Jane Kennedy. She was so beautiful and inspirational to me.”
Though she was always at the height of fashion, Robinson remembers some outfits with embarrassment.
“I wore some hideous polkadots in my Contempo Casual days,” she said. “There’s one picture of me when I was about 11 or 12, the day my dad got his star on Hollywood Boulevard. I am wearing this white and turquoise polkadot dress with beaded bangles, and it was just terrible. I was also into moccasins and leg warmers — together!”
In her teen years, one memorable look was “the strapless North Beach Leather dress that laced up the back that I wore for my sweet sixteen.”
“I got makeup done for the first time, and I thought it looked great,” she recalled. “Now, I look at them and think, ‘I’m wearing so much makeup.”‘
Today, she looks more to modern musical style icons like Jennifer Lopez, Lenny Kravitz and Maxwell for fashion cues. Her favorite designers are Tom Ford and John Galliano, and she describes her style as “clean and chic.”
While she usually wears sweatpants while at work, she favors casual chic skirts and high boots for day, as well as slacks and tank tops.
“I wear a lot of Lura Starr,” she said, referring to a local designer label and shop. “I also love jeans by Earl and Diesel.”
Robinson’s favorite neighborhood for shopping is the western end of Melrose Avenue, where chic boutiques like Fred Segal, Miu Miu, Daryl K and Liza Bruce supply most of her wardrobe. She’s also looking for a studio space or storefront in the area.
“I’m a no-fuss dresser,” she said. “I don’t like to mess with too many different styles.”
She also finds clothes at Barneys New York, Bebe and BCBG. But, her weakness is handbags, mostly of the small, beaded variety. Robinson has also designed a denim tote bag for Natural Born Star.
“I have about 30 right now, but I’m always giving them away and collecting more,” she said. “I buy nondesigner bags, but I also love Gucci, Prada, Kate Spade and Fendi.” Robinson, a graduate of American College for the Applied Arts in Los Angeles, plans to do a signature ready-to-wear line for next fall.
“It would be dressier than what I normally wear, with different pants, dresses, skirts and accessories, of course,” she noted. “Things that are easy to pull together from day to night. Someday, I know it’s going to be a hit, and I’m just being patient.”