Words by Greg, Dersu & Nissa Rhodes // Images by Galen Oakes // Retouching by Christoffer Meyer
Ann-Marie Hoang gets in front of the camera and gives every flash of the bulb a new pose. A DJ set by YokoO plays in the background as she whips her long hair wraps around her hand and buries her silver RZArector-like nails deep into her hair. She’s wrapped in a tight black turtleneck dress as the soft box light flashes and strobes across her round, pregnant stomach. Her presence is spiritual, sensual, natural, maternal, and effortless.
Ann-Marie Hoang, known to thousands as Mstr of Disguise, is an L.A.-based stylist, fashion icon, blogger, and designer who’s organically built up an impressive following online. Through her online image, line of accessories, leather goods and clothes, Ann-Marie has developed a clear and unique voice that is unmistakably personal and genuine. The products are an extension of her character and a vehicle to express something greater than herself.
The first time I met Ann-Marie she was rocking a a see-through rain coat in 90 degree heat, white pumps, and a horse bookies milk green plastic visor. What would’ve looked absolutely absurd on most anyone looked incredible on her. And later while shooting Action Bronson’s Easy Rider, I had the privilege of witnessing her in her stylist role, so careful, gentle and caring as she tied a bandana on the rapper’s forehead.
Her work is an extension of her aura and she infuses it into everything she does. You feel that by wearing something from her you gain a piece of her, you gain the essence of someone who is acting from her truest self, a spirit that works from a place of loving intention and the belief that there’s only one direction to push positive energy: Upwards and out.
“What’s the story behind that one?” we ask her. She looks up smiling as we ask her about the tattoo she has on her neck – a pyramid with a space ship hovering above, a beam of light connecting to the top of the pyramid.
“Beam me up with my friends” she says.
She tells us about the woman who did her hair wraps, how each piece has been blessed with the purest intentions. She explains her pieces with a story and a deep level of respect and admiration for each artist who made them. As we’re finishing the shoot, she reaches for her necklace with her bag of crystals “I really want a photo with this one,” she says.
“The vibes you put out, are the vibes you receive. I’ve been so lucky with the people I’ve met to the point that I’m still not jaded, I’m still really excited about what I do.”
When many of us are battling with our connection to our phones and our addictions to social media, Ann-Marie is fully embracing these social platforms without conflict or its lure of the ego. We’ve watched her style and audience evolve in the public eye, and now that her Instagram following is at over 150k, she remains rooted in the middle of the cyclone of the fashion industry with both feet firmly planted on the ground.
Her Instagram account isn’t a platform for narcissism or product placement, but a tool that she uses to ‘hold hands’ and ‘rise up together with like-minded people’. Her influence grows as girls swoon on her social channels, stating proudly “I want to wear this when I’m pregnant” and “mom goals”, putting Ann-Marie at the front of a new and leading generation of women who see each other as motivators and collaborators rather than competitors.
We caught Ann-Marie on the last photoshoot before her due date and at the time this is being published, she’s now given birth to her daughter, “Jupiter.” She shares the inspiration behind her new line of women’s underwear, almost a ‘bondage style’ tops and bottoms.
“It was at the very beginning of my career that it happened to me, where someone held my hand and told me that I could do it too.”
“I’m tapping into my sexuality more and it continues to evolve. I feel comfortable in it and it inspires other pregnant women to be OK with letting their belly out. I think it’s a beautiful thing to appreciate what the human body can do.”
Ann-Marie has completely opened up what has been traditionally a stagnant closed off, small print, red tape business model. Instead of usage rights and ambassador deals, she minimizes the details and makes it about the collaboration. To her, Mstr of Disguise represents a tool to connect, “If someone comes to me with an idea I love, then we make it together.”
For that reason her brand breathes with youthful, cutting edge creativity. It morphs into a lingerie brand one month, then accessories, then tees with breasts screen-printed on them. Essentially, the reason for its existence is to build a collective empire, one focused on spreading ideas rather then nitpicking contracts. The process is empowering for all those around her, and designers, models, creative directors, and stylists all have joined her tribe and the more that join the more they create. The rules are rewritten here and as we sit across from her, our minds are spinning with ideas.
The reality of our world now is that people can completely come to life even if what you know of them is only through photos. Word travels fast and inspiration is infectious. Ann-Marie is like a little kid in a snow storm. She’s all bundled up, she’s not afraid, she giggles and falls backward, trusting the snow will be soft enough to make snow angels.
She represents pure beauty, love, creativity, and now – family.