Gabrielle Union, one of the few actresses to make it out of the late-’90s/early-aughts teen movie boom with her career (and perfect skin) still very much in tact, is getting into fashion. Starting on Wednesday, her design collaboration with affordable brand New York & Company launches online and in stores.
“The goal was to bring affordable fashion to the masses that mimics the diversity that exists in my closet,” she tells Fashionista over the phone. “At the end of the day, I’m from Omaha, Nebraska. I come from a very working-class family, and most of the things that I wear are freakishly expensive and not available to your average woman.” The brand gave her a “long leash” to make cool things, ranging from casual to work-appropriate, in sizes XS-XXL or 0-20, that work from day, to night… to Instagram.
We also spoke to Union about dressing for the social media platform, accidentally coordinating outfits with her equally stylish husband Dwayne Wade, the habits that she feels are reversing her aging process and her favorite “iconic” costume from her high-school movie career.
Obviously the line is inspired by your personal style and favorite pieces. What’s your approach to getting dressed? Do you work with a stylist?
If it’s for a red carpet or a very specific event, I work with Thomas Christos, who’s been my stylist for a few years; but if it’s just what I might throw on for a date night, it’s just the different stores that I’ve found across the country when I’m traveling.
[I look for] pieces that tell a story and spark a conversation and then I like to mix those with drop-crotch trousers, and I might pair dresses with sneakers… But there’s a lot of diversity that exists within my closet: a lot of super high-fashion uptown girl [pieces], a lot of tougher street-chic and just kind of glam pieces where you wanna feel super fly, maybe your attitude is lagging behind your fashion moment and you’re trying to get them to match.
You post a lot of fun photos and videos of yourself on Instagram — do you feel pressure to always be wearing the right outfit in the likely event it ends up on social media?
That was one of the things that we talked about when designing the line. I’m like, I want every outfit to be Instagrammable. Those are kind of lofty goals; I think we all set out to wow ourselves and wow our coworkers or our friends with our fashion sense, but we don’t always hit it out of the park, so my goal was creating a line where it’s always going to be Instagrammable, making sure all the pieces work together.
You’re going to get compliments; you’re gonna feel like each outfit is a moment, like, yaaas.
Your husband Dwayne Wade is obviously also very stylish and gets lots of attention for his outfits, as well. Do you guys ever influence each other when it comes to fashion or suggest-slash-veto items?
We don’t attempt to be matchy-matchy, but when we’re in Miami, we have closets that are next to each other, and when we’re ready to walk out and get in the car we always randomly complement each other. We definitely do our own thing; I have zero influence on if my husband [wears something], though I love his rompers. I wish I could take credit for his daring fashion sense but that’s all him. Sometimes I’ll be like, “What would you pick out for me?” And I’ll let him pick something out for me, but for the most part, we kind of get dressed independently and we kind of wow each other, like, “Oh, look at you on the other side of the closet pulling out looks. OK, I see you.”
Our beauty editor insisted I ask about your beauty routine. I know “black don’t crack,” but are there any habits, products or treatments you swear by to prevent aging?
The biggest habit that changed my life when I was in my early 30s was when I started drinking a gallon of water a day. It’s the cheapest, easiest anti-aging best advice for overall health and wellness that I can give anyone. Even if you have to drink that gallon out of a house by the yard, get your water in.
Products? I love Julie Hewett oil. I started using this Mirigal oil underneath my makeup before work and that’s been really amazing. It gives your skin this perfect canvas to put your makeup on. I go to Skin by Tatum. I swear by her. She doesn’t actually shoot anything, but if there’s a cream that she can rub in or peel or mask or whatever I’m gonna try it. I have a phobia of needles so I haven’t quite gone there yet, but I’d like to withhold the right to change my mind and get over my deathly fear of needles and shoot things into my face — but I’m just not there yet. In the meantime, if there’s a cream, if there’s goat placenta, I’ll use it. Newborn urine…
Tequila and wine — saying no. Drawing clear boundaries will shave years off your face. We run ourselves ragged and we don’t get sleep and we say yes to everything; otherwise people make you feel like a bad person and you’re selfish, but drawing clear boundaries and saying no a lot, you will literally reverse the aging process.
Excellent advice. My last question: Of your many iconic ’90s teen movies, from “Bring It On” to “She’s All That” to “10 Things I Hate About You,” which had your favorite wardrobe looking back?
On “Being Mary Jane,” I’m always in fittings. I feel like most of my time is spent creating Mary Jane’s wardrobe. People love her wardrobe but it’s a lot of work and a lot of fittings, so I’m going to go with “Bring It On” because I had one outfit for the whole movie: an iconic Clovers cheerleading outfit.