Tamara Kurtenbach is the designer behind The Passionate Lion Featuring Stephen Kavanaugh. Read on to learn about the brand she is creating and the ways she plans to impact her customers.


How did you get into fashion? Tell me a little about your background.

My first experience in creating with thread and fabric was at the age of three, when my mother put a pillow on my lap, and a needle and thread in my hand, and taught me how to do needlepoint. I taught myself to sew, on my mother’s old machine, at age 11. My mother was a sewer and worked at Vogue Fabrics in Chicago, where I was born. She had a trunk full of designer fabrics which I used, later, to learn to sew. I believe this is when I developed a keen eye for luxurious fabrics.

Bohemian Wedding Dress

Bohemian Wedding Dress

Describe your brand and the point of view you wish to convey. What category does your brand fall under?

The Passionate Lion is elevated street wear, for people living in everyday cities… people on their way to work, walking their dog, or going out at night. I think of myself as the people’s designer - and this is the people's label. My aesthetic is born out of the want to bring balance to the opposites of our world. The Passionate Lion lies at the intersection of seemingly opposite entities. The label is “elevated” street wear because I hope to affect the minds of the masses through my clothing, which I call fashion nutrients. My tagline - Awake | Fresh | Free - is meant to encourage my market to tune into “self” and become AWAKE to unlock the power that can be harnessed through self-awareness. FRESH means being on point with your personal style and presentation. FREE refers to freedom of the mind..setting no limitations for yourself...taking possession of your mind and directing it towards whatever you desire.

What are your personal goals or goals for your brand?

I want The Passionate Lion to become a household name. I want to affect people through my aesthetic, and that will mean retail, media, and dressing and designing for celebrities who I feel are adding to the world through their work.

Describe your favorite project or projects that you have worked on.

This OFW collaboration with artist Stephen Kavanaugh has by far been my most favorite project. It's a magical thing to take two creative perspectives and develop a working relationship and let the art evolve out of it. Our collection, titled “Fable,” is the story of bringing together seemingly unlike entities - specifically white and black - and experiencing the beauty of the balance of the two.

Tron Dress

Tron Dress

Tell me about the overarching ideas of your brand.

The Passionate Lion, being elevated street wear, draws inspiration from the streets as well as couture fashion. As a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, I was taught the detailing that goes into creating couture fashion, and I was a custom fashion designer for several years. My philosophy is to focus on the detail of each garment, as if it were a piece of couture, but at a ready-to-wear street wear price point.

Describe the specific category or customer your design for.

My customer is a young to middle-aged individual who is on a life journey - seeking, creating, and experiencing life with an open mind and an heart. These are the clothes they wear throughout that adventure.

What signature styles or silhouettes do you feature in your line?

My aesthetic is eclectic, so it's always a fun challenge to bring a balance to all of the details I dearly love. I gravitate towards sporty details, like racerbacks, and activewear knits, since my specialization at FIT was knitwear. I love classic, sexy details such as plunging necklines and backless styles. I have a deep connection and love for the indigenous people of our world and their dress. That is where the natural and militant aspect of The Passionate Lion comes through, specifically in the styling of the label.

How do you balance creativity and consistency in your work?

I always stay true to myself and my aesthetic. I pay attention to trends of the world and tune in to my customer, focusing on what they want, and using that as a guide for my collections.

A look from “Awakening,” a past collection   

A look from “Awakening,” a past collection

What inspired your new collection and how are you interpreting that inspiration for your specific product categories?   

I was inspired by Stephen Kavanaugh's artwork. When you look at his paintings from afar you see blocks of images. As you move in closer, you see that within those blocks there is a story, and you get the opportunity to wrap your head around that story and experience what he was feeling when he created the art. That is where the black and white color blocking of this collection was born.


To learn more about Tamara and The Passionate Lion Featuring Stephen Kavanaugh, visit their website and follow along on Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram to keep up to date with her work!