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Both career- and beauty-wise, Gabrielle Union is as resilient as they come. Since starring in some of the most beloved teen movies of the ’90s and early aughts — She’s All That, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Bring It On among them — she’s enjoyed steady work in both film and television, and now stars as the titular heroine of BET’s hit series, Being Mary Jane. Of course, the 44-year-old (yes, really) star is also known for her flawless face, which appears to not have aged a day since she declared her love of Skechers in 1999.
As Union’s almost-9 million Instagram followers well know, the actress also has an incredible sense of style — so it’s almost surprising that her new line for New York & Company marks her first foray into fashion design. Below, Union discusses the inspiration behind the affordably priced collection (everything’s under $130), her complete skincare routine, and her city-specific shopping approach.
Congrats on your new collection! What inspired it?
My own closet! And some of my red carpet looks, too. We were trying to figure out a way of recreating some of my more iconic looks, the ones that were really well-received, for less. You know, it gets to a point where someone’s like, “I love that, how much is it?” and you’re like, “Umm… $5,000.” And then you’re a jackass. Nobody can afford that — including me, because I give those [red carpet] looks back!
So I really just wanted to create dope looks inspired by my own closet, but at a price point that my own family could afford. And I wanted every piece to be Instagrammable: There’s nothing worse than buying something online and when it gets to you, you’re like, “Hmm. I would never document this mess.” So the goal was for the pieces to be interchangeable — you can mix and match them all! — and also give you that “I got this” moment for social media.
What’s your personal favorite piece in the collection?
The kimono jacket, for sure. It was inspired by my travels; my husband and I spend two weeks every year traveling around China. The color’s actually called Ming blue, and I’m just obsessed with the yellow lining. They’re colors that always catch my eye when we’re in Guangzhou, Hangzhou, and Shenzhen. I always find those colors inspiring and try to work them into my own wardrobe, too.
Where do you like to shop for yourself?
It depends. If I’m in Miami, I have to dress for the weather — it’s hot! So I can lean a little bit more into my sexuality, I can go a little more risqué, and I can wear a lot more color. What I tend to buy in Miami is a lot different from what I’d buy in LA, because my LA look is a lot more chill and laid-back. And in New York, I tend to stick with neutrals — specifically black.
My style’s incredibly eclectic; some days I’m more tomboy-chic, some days I’m more sophisticated, some days I’m more glam. And because I’m constantly moving, my closet reflects that I’m literally all over the place!
You and your husband, Dwyane Wade, are both so stylish, and your outfits often seem to coordinate perfectly. Do you shop together, or plan your looks together?
Strangely, we don’t! We actually have two different stylists, we don’t shop together at all, and we definitely don’t want to be matchy-matchy. So unless our stylists are secretly talking to each other... [Laughs]
On occasion I’ll be like, “What would you pick out?” And I’m always pleasantly surprised. He’s got a very keen eye for what he likes to see me in, and whenever I do ask for his advice, he’s never steered me wrong.
He’s stopped asking me [for outfit advice], though, because I always say, “Naked — that’s how you look best!”
Lastly, let’s talk about your skin, because it’s perfect. What do you use on your face?
I’m kind of obsessed with the Luzern line; I use a lot of their products. Pretty much the whole Luzern line, actually. At night, I use the Julie Hewett oil; that’s my overnight oil. And for day, I just started using Mirigal oil. I put it under my makeup, and it’s amazing.
Here’s the thing — as you age, your skin gets used to things, and it sometimes stops responding. A zit zapper that used to work suddenly won’t. So I’m constantly switching up [my routine] as I age and as my hormones change. It’s a lifelong adventure, skincare!
Lifestyle-wise, the biggest change, honestly, came in my early 30s when I started drinking a gallon of water a day. I know, it’s a lot. And when I’m really dieting hardcore or getting ready for a project, I sometimes go up to two gallons. Your coworkers will definitely think you have a drug problem because you’ll be in the bathroom a lot, but it’s the best thing you can do for your skin, hair, nails — everything. It’s the easiest and cheapest anti-aging secret I can pass along.