Designer Profile: Tara Tonini

NBCDFW Designer Fashion Week

Steve Lemonds, NBCDFW

“The 1960’s were a time of dramatic change for women.”

From the high-flying Sky Girls line to her own pin-up perfect looks, Tara Tonini has translated a fascination with modern American history into a magnetic design perspective.

At 24 years old, this talented young designer’s training and achievements might just surprise you.  After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, Tonini traveled to Texas to take on a position as a lead accessories designer for a Dallas-based manufacturer.

In 2009, she set out on her own with Tara To The T.  In addition to vintage-inspired hair accessories and swimwear, Tonini’s most recent accomplishment is a sportswear collection inspired by sassy “stews” from the 60’s.  Read on to learn more about her inspirations, celebrity “hero” and more, then view the sensational Sky Girls looks for yourself.

How did you get started in fashion design?
“My grandmother is a seamstress and taught me how to sew at a very young age.  She introduced me to fashion and taught me a lot about construction and fabrication.  She inspired me to take my hobby and turn it into a career.”

What inspires you as a designer?
“I’m very inspired by history and there is a vintage feel in all of my creations.  My Sky Girls clothing line is inspired by stewardesses from the 1960’s.  The 1960’s were a time of dramatic change for women; women’s fashion and careers were beginning to push the envelope.  Being a stewardess gave young women the opportunity and thrill of traveling the world, and the chance to escape conventional careers.  And with the women’s cultural liberation, there was also a revolution in the air.  Stewardess uniforms went from traditional and tailored to colorful and sassy.  That color, style and feeling of empowerment is what my line really captures.”

How does living in DFW influence your designs?
“DFW is a hub for several major airlines and home to the first stewardess college in the United States.  The city’s link with the airlines has helped me gather information and interview stewardesses for my projects.”

What seven words would you use to describe your style?
“Vibrant, retro, playful, witty, charming, flirtatious and spirited.”

If you could design for a celebrity, who would you pick?  Why?
Dolly Parton is one of my heroes!  She has built her empire from the ground up, and even with her massive amounts of success she has kept her playful and humble personality.  I would love to design three-piece western suits and dresses for her, covered in embroidery and lots of rhinestones.”

What do you have planned for the near future?
“We have several trunk shows coming up in Dallas this summer, and we will be attending the Magic Trade show in August to show our 2011 collection.”

Tonini’s Sky Girls collection is currently sold in several boutiques across the United States and Canada.  Her full line and accessories are also available at

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