For more than five years, designer Angel Brinks has been quietly crafting bodycon leggings, bodysuits, and minidresses worn by both Amber Rose and Blac Chyna—two women she knows personally and refers to as her “Barbie dolls.” For Rose and Chyna’s undeniably bold styles, Brinks has designed everything from wide-leg pants to minidresses for the starlets, always paying careful attention to the fit, which is obviously the most important factor when dressing any female, curvy or not.
And while the lexicon of Rose and Chyna’s style includes words such as tight, short, and very low-cut, Brinks recently branched out and started offering maxidresses, jeans, and sheer jumpsuits at a price point even non-celebs can afford ($65 for lace bodysuits, jumpsuits, and dresses, for example). As for aesthetics, Brinks’s pieces have serious California vibes. and they’re made for flaunting.
Fittingly, Brinks is the newest member to join the cast of VH1’s “Basketball Wives L.A.” Here, we chatted with the designer, mom, and reality television star on her rise in fashion; how to dress for different body types; and the fashion influence of L.A.
StyleCaster: Explain how you got started in fashion.
Angel Brinks: It was a dollar and a dream. If I take it back to when I was little, it was always something I wanted to do. I would beg my mom to buy me a cash register, and I would sit there and draw bar codes on clothes. I thought I had a store. I always had an eye for fashion growing up, although my mom didn’t always buy it. I wanted it so bad that I used to go to thrift stores and buy items and sew them together with my grandma’s sewing machine. I grew up in the performing arts. I was always on stage, in choir, dancing. A lot of the clothing was very flashy.
A few years ago, I just noticed that there was a need for leggings. A lot of girls were starting to really work out a lot and wear tighter clothing. I used to go to all these stores, and I could never find leggings. So, I thought, Let me start making some, and I’ll just specialize in leggings. I cut them up, I put sequins on them, I dipped them in glitter, I put velour on them. I just wanted to create another level of leggings, and that’s how it started.
Your website offers custom sizing. How did that come about?
A lot of designers will create a sample and send it off to big manufacturers. They’ll make mass quantities of that one item, which is fine. But usually when you’re making things at a factory, you have pretty standard sizes from small to extra large. I noticed a lot of my customers at the time were very curvy—with small waists and big butts. They’d always call and say they can’t find anything that fits them. I wanted to be a designer who makes things that are really cute and trendy, but make things that really fits their bodies.
What do you think draws celebs like Amber Rose and Blac Chyna to your pieces?
Oh my gosh, my girls right there! They’re definitely curvy. They have coke-bottle bodies. Very small waists and very big behinds. That’s what I specialize in—making items that fit, that are hard to find for them. It’s sort of a one-stop shop. I remember when I first saw Amber, I was like, Her body is gorgeous. She’s proud of it, she’s confident. It’s really nice to work with both of them too, because they have really great [shapes] and are also very nice people. Whatever they’re going through, they’re always smiling. They’re fun, they’re like my little personal Barbie dolls. Blac Chyna—our kids hang out. We have lunch together, and Amber too.
How is it different working with each of them?
With Amber, she loves wide-leg pants sometimes. Chyna, she likes [things] more fitted. They do kind of have the same style, though. I like them because in a sense, they keep it trendy but sexy at the same time. If Amber is showing cleavage that day, she might want her legs covered. With Amber, she does like minidresses. Chyna just likes anything and everything, as long as it has glitz and glam and it’s shiny.
A lot of people think they can’t wear bodycon pieces unless they’re model thin, but Amber Rose and Blac Chyna defy that idea. What tips do you have for wearing tight clothing with curves?
I definitely love undergarments. I love Spanx. As women, it just kind of sucks you in. Sometimes you feel bloated, maybe you gained a little bit of weight that month. Spanx just work really well. They give you a lift in an area. And honestly, a push-up bra. A push-up bra is really amazing. It does wonders. But we’re embracing all body types nowadays, whether you’re considered thick or petite, we’re all beautiful.
Who would you love to see wearing your pieces?
Beyoncé. I adore her. I think what she stands for is amazing. I think outside looking in, she looks like a great mom, a trendsetter, and everyone always wants to wear what she wears. I’m a very hard worker and a mom, so I tend to look at her and admire that. I want to high-five her, like I feel you on everything! Jennifer Lopez would be another one. Beyoncé, I’m actually working on something for her now, but I haven’t gotten to her yet since she’s on tour.
You’re also a reality star on “Basketball Wives.” How has that influenced your style?
I would say that it actually pushes me to go a lot harder on the show. Sometimes I do like to go above and beyond, like when I’m in the green screen or what we call our “interviews,” it’s just waist up. I like to be very glamorous with the pearls and the big necklaces, because it’s on camera and it catches the eyes of girls who love fashion. But it doesn’t make me change anything.
In your opinion, who are some of the most influential women fashion-wise right now?
I adore Ciara. I think she’s amazing. Her body looks great, and I love to see what she has on during red carpets. Obviously, Beyoncé; and Jennifer Lopez is another one. I do love Kim Kardashian. All these women are the ones who hit the red carpet, and we want to know what they’re wearing.
Where do you take inspiration from when you’re designing?
Back when I was in performing arts. And I know this may sound weird, but curtains. I do a lot of gathering in my clothing. Right now, I’m trying to get into doing evening gowns, so I’m really inspired by flashy things and sequins. Honestly, it’s just something that comes from within. It doesn’t stop—every day, I think, OK, I’m going to put this together. Or I’m going to do it like this.
Being based in L.A, do you think that’s influenced your style?
Absolutely, being near Hollywood, you never want to wear the same thing twice, and you always want to walk in with the hottest outfit. And fashion ties into everything—artists, TV, rappers, movie stars, politicians. Everyone wants to see who has the nicest watch or the best jacket, things like that. In Hollywood, you always want to be on top of and ahead of what’s going on at that moment.