Gabrielle Union NY&CO - LEAD
Credit: Norman Jean Roy

We’ve been fans of Gabrielle Union for a long time, so when we heard that she was putting out her own clothing line, we wanted all the deets. We got a chance to chat with the actress to talk about the collection and see a preview firsthand (everything is so gorgeous), and she gave us the behind-the-scenes scoop on everything. Read below to see what she had to say.

The first thing we wanted to know when we sat down with the Being Mary Jane star was what her inspiration behind the line was. “Literally my closet and the things that I like," she revealed. "I live for bold color. I wanted everything to be wearable and everything to be Instagrammable.”

Each piece is something that Union herself would—and does—wear. "It's all of my favorite things, from my drop-crotch joggers that we made into drop-crotch pants; super-embellished, dope, bold outerwear. I live in bombers and motos, reimagined sweatshirts. Everything's a little slightly atypical with my own stamp on it. I live for a kimono, a great statement piece."

Gabrielle Union NY&CO - 3
Credit: Norman Jean Roy

Before starting on the line, Union wasn't exactly sure what to expect. “I got nervous!” she said of beginning the design process, which took around a year to create. “I was lucky enough to work with a great team of fashion gurus that didn’t make me feel like a fashion idiot.” But she was involved in every aspect, from picking fabrics to adding embellishments to deciding what the pieces would be. “I’m not putting my name on anything that I’m not involved with top to bottom, and they allowed me the freedom and the latitude to create a line that literally looks like my closet."

The best part of the collection is that it's “a full circle moment” for the actress, and it's pretty significant. “My sister was a manager at Lerner, and Lerner became New York & Co.," she explained. "So I was borrowing from my sister’s closet since I was in 7th grade—since ’86. My sister had these big, shoulder-padded blazers and, to me, she was the original boss bitch, because she didn’t have to listen to my parents because she had her own money and her own after-school job and she rose up the ranks rather quickly. So, to me, that was independence and that was fashion and you know, getting to go to the mall, it was like seeing a celebrity, seeing my sister at work—that was awesome to me."

The brand is also a staple in another one of Union's closets. “Mary Jane’s been wearing New York & Company for the last 20 episodes. What’s great about it is they don’t require a ton of tailoring. They’re wearable all day long. If I’m in a piece for twelve to sixteen hours a day, I don’t want it to feel like it’s attacking me.”

Gabrielle Union NY&CO - 1
Credit: Norman Jean Roy

Throughout the entire collaborative journey, there was one thing in particular that Union couldn't stop gushing about. “Meeting the women! The women who design the clothes. I think if you’re not in fashion you have an idea about who these people are, and that everyone’s too cool for school, but they’re real women, from young, college graduates to women who've been in the fashion industry for 30 years. They’re cool and very welcoming and took the time to explain things. Once you humble yourself and you’re open to learning and you don’t put your own insecurities on someone else, it’s an amazing experience, so I just let them lead. And they were kind enough and gracious enough to allow me to be a real partner in the whole process.”

VIDEO: Behind the Scenes with Gabrielle Union

"It’s a lot of work," she said about creating the collection. "It’s like you give birth to a baby and you toss it into a crowd and hope people catch it."

The full line, which ranges in price from $46.95-$139.95, is launching online and in New York & Co. stores today, Aug. 16. Shop it here.