Self-published author and fashion illustrator, Edwina Owens Elliott has spent over thirty years in the fashion, beauty and entertainment industries as an art director, fashion illustrator and graphic designer.
Growing up in Chicago, surrounded by a family of dapper men and stylish women, Edwina’s heart has always belonged to the world of fashion and art. Over the years, she has developed an extensive career in advertising, illustration, and design. She kept an on-going journal of her adventures while art directing for the luxury retailer Marshall Field’s & Co. and shooting with models Cindy Crawford, Uma Thurmond, Jennifer Beals and Halle Berry.
After moving to Atlanta, Georgia, she wrote short stories while creating campaigns for the Alliance Theater Co. with Artistic Director Kenny Leon and playwrights Elton John & Tim Rice, August Wilson, Janece Shaffer and Debbie Allen. For years she waited for the project that would bring it all together—fashion, art, design, and storytelling—before realizing, finally, that she’d have to create the project herself. The results? WINONA, INC.
WINONA, INC.- The Book, is a fast-paced illustrated adventure for adults only, centering around the celebrity-filled life of former supermodel Winona Warner, now the proud owner of a hot Manhattan modeling agency. Loaded with haute couture fashion, high-end glamour, and kinky sexual mischief, each page is an explosion of imaginative artwork and vibrant design. The book is available for purchase only on the WINONA, INC. website.
“What makes the character, Winona Warner so unique is that she’s a rich, middle-aged, African-American, ex-supermodel who becomes a successful businesswoman after being told that she couldn’t,” says creator E. O. Elliott. “Winona’s a rebel, but she’s not out to save the planet. She can be ruthless, bitchy and way too self-involved. But she lives a fun and fabulous life, cutting business deals in fine designer dresses, rolling with the world’s social elite, and keeping her bed warm with sexy, mouthwatering men.”
The 10×10”full-color coffee-table book is the first in a proposed series and includes fashions by Givenchy, Ralph Lauren, Jimmy Choo, Victoria Beckham, Dior, Balmain and Donna Karan. Celebrating New York City, the fast-moving, 3-chapter tale takes us from the downtown Soho offices of Winona, Inc. and Midtown’s exclusive Peninsula Hotel to the Upper East Side and Central Park.
I had the pleasure of speaking with the creative and amazing author Edwina Elliot about this highly fashionable series and here is what she shared with me.
What inspired you to start this series?
Fashion, illustration, design, and storytelling. I live and breathe for these things. And while I’ve had a very diverse career in advertising and graphic design and I’ve worked in a variety of industries, from retail advertising to publishing to theater, I was always waiting for the one project that would bring it all together. And it finally dawned on me that the only way that was going to happen was to create the project myself.
What excites you about Fashion?
I’ve been excited about fashion my entire life. It’s the one thing that allows us to convey to the world just who we are and what we’re about. All without saying a word. That’s the allure of fashion. Throughout my career, I’ve managed to snag highly competitive positions and I’d learn later on that the interviewers were impressed not only with my portfolio but also my wardrobe. Now that may sound petty and frivolous but it really isn’t. I mean, after three or four rounds of interviews and outfits, a potential employer will have a pretty good idea of your personal style, and fashion can speak volumes. It can dictate how people treat you and respond to you, whether they’re conscious of it or not. And to have that type of control, every day, excites me.
What do you hope readers can learn from this series?
Well, Winona is hardly a role model. She isn’t meant to be. She can be b*tchy, ruthless and way too self-involved. But what makes her unique is that she’s a rich, middle-aged, African-American ex-supermodel who becomes a highly successful businesswoman, after being told that she couldn’t. If there’s a takeaway, it’s to not allow anyone to tell you what you can and cannot achieve in your life. If you’ve got the skills and the determination, dig in and MAKE it happen. Show them all!
What other projects do you have coming up?
It’s really all about WINONA, INC. right now. I’m devoted to marketing and selling the book and continuing the series. I have enough material for at least five more books and my dream is to make that happen. In the meantime, I’m creating new episodes for the online series. And New York Fashion Week is right around the corner. It’s almost time to start planning Winona’s wardrobe for a week’s worth of daily posts during the shows. Before the book was published, I printed and sold fashion illustrations and note cards on my online art gallery. I still get orders for those items, and I also design and print t-shirts. WINONA, INC is the main thing right now, she’s got my full attention and I love it! Its the project I’ve been waiting for my entire career.
If you absolutely adore fashion then be sure to keep up with this series
and the amazing author Edwina Elliot by visiting her official website NOW!
Keep up with the author & series on social media as well!
Headshot photo: Carolyn Grady
All Images: Edwina Elliot