There was no better place to sit down with Eva Mendes than New York City’s classic Carlyle Hotel. The ’30s-era establishment is perfectly suited to Mendes’s old-school glamour and the grace with which she carries herself. From the minute we met, it was clear to me that I would not be leaving with any misunderstandings as to why everybody’s favorite crush, Ryan Gosling, has found himself crushing on her.
But we were there to talk fashion—specifically the latest season of the Eva Mendes Collection that she designs for New York & Company—and Mendes was as well versed on the subject as anyone who’s been in the industry for years. She walked me through the über-feminine line herself, showing a genuine enthusiasm for each piece, and then spilled on everything from her problem with jeans to the fashion blogger she considers her ultimate inspiration.
So you recently had a baby! How has that affected your style overall?
I don’t think it’s affected anything actually! I feel like I’ve always been kind of rushed—I’m the girl who gets ready really, really quickly. It’s not something I’m incredibly proud of! I wish I was really calm and poised and—for lack of a better word—zen, but I’m not! I just don’t enjoy the getting-ready process, although I do like the result.
Obviously I’m not talking about an event, where I have help—I have a village! But, you know, for everyday stuff, it’s not so fun. One reason why I love doing this collection is that I’m designing for the modern woman who, like me, doesn’t have a lot of time and who can just say, “Okay, I like this look. This works on me.” It’s like having an outfit in your back pocket so that you can just run out the door. That’s why we have certain styles that are just re-created each season.
What are some of those standby styles in the collection?
Well one style that’s really incredible is the Maria dress—we even put it in our bridal party collection. The cut is super flattering; it really works on all body types. I actually wore it throughout my pregnancy; I’m being 100% honest! The sizes got bigger and bigger, but it just has such an amazing fit. You can dress it up or down—it lends itself to accessories really well.
What made you decide to add the bridal party line to the collection?
So, I’ve trained myself to never Google myself or read comments… but I actually do read the comments on the New York & Company Facebook page, and I noticed that many women were saying, “Thank you so much for this collection! We wear it a lot to weddings.” So there was this huge wedding theme, and eventually women started asking if I would ever do a collection for bridesmaids. I never would’ve expected that to be the progression of the line, but, you know, we listened to the customer, and it’s doing really well! The dresses are really versatile, too—you could easily wear them all out to dinner on a Friday night.
Did you have any personal wedding experiences that influenced your design choices for the line?
Well, not directly, but my sister did do something terrible to me when I was about 13. She put me and the rest of her bridal party in these pink taffeta, poufy-princess-sleeve monstrosities! I don’t think I ever forgave her for that [laughs]. So as long as I don’t do that, I feel pretty good about my choices!
Did you add any new categories to the most recent collection?
I did decide to do a special range of accessories for the bridal party line that is really fun, a little blingier than the regular line. This is also the first time I’m doing shoes, like these t-strap pumps that I have on, which I love!
I’ve heard that you’re not a jeans and t-shirt kind of lady. What would you wear instead on a laid-back, hanging-out-at-home kind of day?
I love a soft pant, so I make sure they’re included in every collection. But if you see me in jeans, it’s probably because all my skirts are at the dry cleaners or just dirty. I mean, I think jeans are really uncomfortable actually—aren’t they? They’re so restrictive! I always prefer a boyfriend jean, but I find those to be restrictive, too! It’s not unrealistic to see me in an outfit like this at home [points to her skirt], just without the belt and the shoes. I’d wear this with a loose tee or a tank top.
Do you have a style essential, other than skirts, that you can’t live without?
I think it changes all the time, but the one thing I really can’t live without is some type of easy floral-print dress. I feel super feminine in them! I actually have this one by Dolce & Gabbana that I’ve worn a million times—and been paparazzi’d in a million times [laughs]. I love it so much even though it’s probably like 10 years old. There’s even a yellow dress in my collection that I very loosely modeled after the shape of that dress.
And how about beauty products—what are you absolute favorites?
Dr. Perricone’s No Foundation Foundation is a really amazing product—it’s super light, has SPF, and is long-lasting. I also have my own makeup line coming out now at Walgreens called Circa, and there’s a cream blush in the Portofino shade that is great. I just love cream blush; it always saves me—it’s like my desert island product.
So your makeup line is rolling out as we speak! What made you decide to take that on?
Well I love embracing everything that’s female and super girly, it’s just so fun. [However] when I was approached by Walgreens to collaborate on this line with them, I wasn’t sure what I would have to contribute, other than that I love makeup and the art of transformation. But here’s the thing: When a normal drugstore does a cosmetics line, they put most of their money into advertising and marketing, so then the actual products aren’t well made. That’s why we never fall in love with those products! Walgreens, however, uses a really exciting business model where I’m basically the walking advertisement—so there’s a lot of pressure on me [laughs]—but all our money goes into the product. That means our formulas are amazing and the packaging is really beautiful—I had so much fun designing it.
And last but definitely not least, I saw that you just joined Instagram!
I know—it’s like a full-time job!
Yes—she’s incredible! I love her, and I’ve carried that photo of her wearing the turban around for over two years, thinking, “I want to be like this girl.” And I had no idea she was a blogger until recently! I want to dress like her every day. She’s this huge source of inspiration for me—I’m constantly showing her picture to my hair and makeup teams trying to achieve her look, but I just can’t pull it off! Seriously, I just want to be like Karla.
Scroll down to see (and shop!) our favorite items from the Eva Mendes Collection for New York & Company.
Eva Mendes Collection Carmen Lace-Trim Dress ($90)
Eva Mendes Collection Venezia Chain-Detail Bag ($60)
Eva Mendes Collection Emma High-Waist Skirt in Butterfield ($60)
Eva Mendes Collection Kate Dress in Striped ($80)
Eva Mendes Collection - Coming Soon
Eva Mendes Collection Metallic Geo Collar Necklace ($50)
Eva Mendes Collection Kristina Lace Skirt in Soft Taupe ($65)
Eva Mendes Collection Valencia T-Strap Pump in Black ($60)
Eva Mendes Collection Riviera Dress in Plaid ($80)
Eva Mendes Collection - Coming Soon
Eva Mendes Collection Paulina Peasant Blouse ($50)
Eva Mendes Collection Maria Jacquard Dress in Cortlandt Green ($70)
Eva Mendes Collection - Coming Soon
What's your favorite piece from the collection? Let us know in the comments!