Eva Mendes On Motherhood And Beauty
The actress, muse and fashion designer becomes a new mother at 40.
- Set Designed By
- JULIET JERNIGAN
- Photography By
- EMMA SUMMERTON
- Written By
- EVELYN CROWLEY
- Hair By
- STEEVE DAVIAULT
- Makeup By
- PATI DUBROFF
- Styled By
- ELIZABETH SULCER
- Nails By
- KAREN GUTIERREZ
Eva Mendes is habit-forming. Once you place her in front of a camera, you’ll want to do it again. The Cuban-born actress has captivated renowned photographers like Mario Testino, Steven Klein (who shot her for several international Calvin Klein campaigns) and Ellen von Unwerth as well as visionary filmmakers like Robert Rodriguez, Werner Herzog and Larry David. Even Woody Allen, who is notorious for giving actors only three minutes to audition, kept her in the room for an additional seven.
In person, Mendes is elusive and cool, tough yet quietly vulnerable — in short, she’s the type of woman you can’t help but fall a little bit in love with. Unfortunately however, the competition is about as tough as it gets. She has been with actor Ryan Gosling for years, but in true Eva fashion, she won’t disclose how long they have really been together.
Gosling is that rare breed in Hollywood: a gentleman. Yet rather than play up their status as a power couple, Mendes has kept their relationship largely out of the spotlight. When the public does catch a glimpse of the pair (as when paparazzi photos surfaced of the two cavorting around Paris) their chemistry is undeniable. Thus, it wasn’t surprising to learn they welcomed a daughter, Esmeralda Amada, in September. “I’m completely exhausted,” admits Mendes of becoming a first-time mom at 40. “I thought my wild nights were over but these are some of the wildest nights I’ve ever had.”
As it happens, Mendes’s days are busy too. A well-known jewelry connoisseur (who can forget the show-stopping Van Cleef & Arpels turquoise collar necklace she wore to the 2009 Golden Globes), she has begun designing a line of vintage-inspired baubles for her New York & Company collection. Pieces like a faux mother of pearl choker and crystal waterfall earrings fit seamlessly into the VIOLET GREY photo shoot, for which Mendes channeled a cinematic bohemian.
VIOLET GREY staged the shoot at Mann’s Chinese Theater (now known as the TCL Chinese Theater) in Hollywood, as an homage to the fact that Mendes’s own mother had worked there in the 1980s. “As a kid, I would often tag along with her,” she recalled. “She’d have on this red cheongsam dress that all female employees had to wear and I just thought she looked so gorgeous.”
The accompanying interview, which was conducted by Mendes’ longtime friend and confidante, VIOLET GREY founder Cassandra Huysentruyt Grey, is the first that she has given since her pregnancy. Yet far from being guarded, she proved open and talkative, discussing everything from the parenting values she shares with Ryan to her excitement about her expanding New York & Company collection to the comfort she gets from the chatter in online mom forums.
Read the conversation, below.
VIOLET GREY listens in on a conversation between friends, Cassandra Huysentruyt Grey and Eva Mendes.
CASSANDRA HUYSENTRUYT GREY: I THINK IT’S SO AMAZING THAT YOUR MOM USED TO WORK AT THIS THEATER AND THAT YOU USED TO COME TO WORK WITH HER. DID IT FEEL GLAMOROUS TO COME HERE AS A KID?
EVA MENDES: It did feel glamorous although it was super gritty at that time. Hollywood in the ‘80s was really not safe so I had strict instructions to stay close by. I spent a lot of time in the powder room, which was so luxurious. Just the idea of a separate area to make yourself beautiful, I was like, “What!?”
C.H.G.: HOW OLD WERE YOU?
E.M.: Probably from 8 to 12. At the time we lived in this tiny apartment. One bathroom. Four kids. And as the bus drove down Los Feliz Boulevard to the theater, I would imagine what it would be like to live in one of the beautiful homes on that street. Now I live just a few blocks from that area. I believe the seeds of our dreams and ambitions are planted early in life.
C.H.G.: I AM GOING TO START DREAMING OF AN APARTMENT IN PARIS. WHAT ARE YOU DREAMING ABOUT NOW?
E.M.: Your apartment in Paris. Collective dreams are even more powerful.
C.H.G.: THE DAY OF THE SHOOT YOU LOOKED SO SERENE AND CALM—EVEN YOUR BODY LANGUAGE AND THE TONE OF YOUR VOICE.
E.M.: [Laughs] I think I’m just exhausted as a new mom. Maybe you’re mistaking that for being calm.
C.H.G.: WELL, YOU’RE A MOVIE STAR WHO HAD A BABY WITH ANOTHER MOVIE STAR WHO DOESN'T HAVE TWO NANNIES AND A BABY NURSE.
E.M.: I’m doing it without a nanny for now but I’m open to the idea of having a nanny in the future. Esmeralda has two amazing grandmothers and incredible aunties who come over and really help me. But as far as a nanny or a night nurse, for me that part of being a mother at this early stage is the struggle of not being able to sleep and not knowing what I’m doing and really going through it with her and battling out those nights.
C.H.G.: AREN’T THERE SO MANY ALARMING THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN? ARE YOU EVER SCARED THAT YOU’RE DOING SOMETHING WRONG?
C.H.G.: WHAT DO YOU DO? DO YOU GO ON THE INTERNET?
E.M.: I call one of her grandmothers or I call one of her aunties.
C.H.G.: THE GRANDMOTHERS ARE SUCH A BLESSING!
E.M.: The nonnas.
C.H.G.: THAT’S WHAT YOU CALL THE GRANDMOTHERS?
E.M.: Yes. I try not to Google too many things because it is frightening but I do go to babycenter.com and read the comment sections from other mothers because I find so much solace in that. Just knowing that I’m not alone out there and that other moms have gone through the same thing can at least get me through the night.
C.H.G.: WHEN DID YOU FIND OUT YOU WERE PREGNANT? WERE YOU TRYING OR DID IT TAKE YOU BY SURPRISE?
E.M.: You’re killing me, Cassandra.
C.H.G.: NEXT QUESTION?
E.M.: I think so. I just broke into a mini-sweat.
C.H.G.: OK, FAIR ENOUGH. DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE FACT THAT YOU REALLY FLEW UNDER THE RADAR AND MANAGED TO AVOID THE PAPARAZZI AND THE SPOTLIGHT IN GENERAL THE WHOLE TIME YOU WERE PREGNANT?
E.M.: Whether we like it or not, privacy is going to be very difficult for Esmeralda. I think it’s unfair but that’s our reality. So Ryan and I decided early on to give her as much privacy as we could. And my pregnancy was the first opportunity to give her that. It’s such an intimate time for the mother, too. I know that it seems all very innocuous when you’re flipping through a tabloid at the doctor’s office or see a photo of a pregnant lady online, but I find the media’s “bump watch” obsession to be both intrusive and stressful. So I made a decision to eject myself from it completely. I was like, “Annnnd I’m out.”
C.H.G.: WHAT WERE YOU DOING? WERE YOU READING BOOKS LIKE WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING?
E.M.: Yes, although mainly I was just taking the time to relax and enjoy my pregnancy. I was constantly with family. I have eight nieces and nephews so my brothers and sisters know a thing or two about what to expect when you’re expecting. I have a very tight-knit family and the pregnancy brought us even closer together.
I thought my WILD nights were over but these are some of the wildest NIGHTS I’ve ever had.
EVA MENDES, ACTRESS
C.H.G.: DO YOU HAVE A NEW APPRECIATION OF YOUR MOTHER AS A MOTHER?
E.M.: Definitely. I cannot believe that by the time my mother was 24 she had three kids under the age of four. She was in Cuba and totally alone. So when it’s the wee hours of the night and I’m feeling a bit insane, I think about her and realize that I have no right to complain about anything.
C.H.G.: WHEN YOU WERE HOME ENJOYING YOUR PREGNANCY, DID YOU DO ANY OF YOUR AT-HOME BEAUTY TREATMENTS?
E.M.: When it comes to skin care I love using things I can find in my kitchen cabinet! I use coconut oil as a moisturizer and I combine yogurt and sea salt to exfoliate. If I’m going out and looking tired and puffy (which happens a lot these days), I dip my face into a bucket of ice water. I once worked with a makeup artist who worked briefly with Lucille Ball. She told me that’s what the actresses did back then.
C.H.G.: I THINK YOU SHOULD CONSIDER BOTTLING THESE UP AND SELLING THEM AT THE VIOLET GREY SHOP. WE'RE ACTUALLY CURATING THE BEST OF MATERNITY BEAUTY NOW. WE ARE VETTING THOUSANDS OF BEAUTY PRODUCTS AND WE FOUND THAT ONE OF THE BEST CREAMS FOR STRETCH MARKS IS THE LA MER REPARATIVE BODY LOTION. SHOULD I SEND YOU SOME OF THIS OR DO YOU HAVE A HOME REMEDY FOR STRETCH MARKS TOO?
E.M.: Lady, send me the La Mer!
C.H.G.: DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE HAVING A GIRL?
E.M.: We actually did. We were really excited about naming her.
C.H.G.: TELL ME ABOUT THE NAME, ESMERALDA AMADA.
E.M.: We both love the Esmeralda character from the Victor Hugo novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame and just think it’s a beautiful name. Her middle name is Amada, which was my grandmother’s name. It means “beloved” in Spanish.
C.H.G.: DO YOU THINK ABOUT HER BEING A TEENAGER AND WHEN SHE’S GOING TO FALL IN LOVE OR GET HER HEART BROKEN FOR THE FIRST TIME?
E.M.: You know, I don’t because she’s 6 weeks old. I want to stay present with her. But I do consider how my own actions now will seem to her later on. For instance, with the VIOLET GREY photo shoot, I thought, “Is this something that she’s going to be proud of?” The idea that I would ever embarrass her is really heartbreaking for me.
C.H.G.: MOTHERHOOD IS TOUGH.
E.M.: People always told me that. But I’ve learned that it’s way harder to be a baby. Everything is a struggle for her. For instance, I haven’t thrown up since the ‘90s and she’s thrown up twice since we started this interview. Motherhood is cake compared to what it’s like to be a baby.
C.H.G.: [LAUGHS] OK, I’LL LET YOU GET BACK TO HER. BUT FIRST, LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR COLLECTION FOR NEW YORK & COMPANY. I LOVE ALL THE VINTAGE-INSPIRED LADY DRESSES. TELL US ABOUT YOUR INSPIRATION FOR THE HOLIDAY COLLECTION.
E.M.: My inspiration for the holiday collection actually comes from my VIOLET GREY Christmas story that I art-directed with you last year! While collecting images as inspiration for the shoot, I came across these beautiful old photographs of movie stars being festive. Everything was so elegant and sparkly. I wanted to bring affordable elegance to the collection for my favorite time of year. Practically, I wanted to make dresses that made women feel beautiful.
C.H.G.: YOU LOVE A DRESS.
E.M.: I love a waist. I love a beautiful dress. When I am designing with my partners I try to think about the woman I’m designing for, where she’s going, what her life is like. That’s why I don’t design jeans or many pants. I think the easiest way to make a woman look beautiful is to put her in a dress that fits her properly.
C.H.G.: IN YOUR PERFECT WORLD, WOULD ALL WOMEN BE IN DRESSES RATHER THAN PANTS?
E.M.: In a perfect world all women would be paid as much as men whether they were in a tailored trouser or a lady dress!
C.H.G.: HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT MEN IN DRESSES?
E.M.: I’m indifferent. But if they insist I’d prefer them to shave their legs.
- PHOTOGRAPHER:Emma Summerton @ CLM
- CREATIVE DIRECTOR:Cassandra Huysentruyt Grey
- SUBJECT:Eva Mendes
- MAKEUP ARTIST:Pati Dubroff @ The Wall Group
- HAIR STYLIST:Steeve Daviault @ LinkNYLA
- NAIL ARTIST:Karen Gutierrez @ Nailing Hollywood
- STYLIST:Elizabeth Sulcer @ LaLaLand
- SET DESIGNER:Juliet Jernigan @ CLM
- LOCATION:TCL Chinese Theater, Hollywood, CA
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH EVA MENDES.
CHRISTMAS IN TINSELTOWN
EVA MENDES art-directed and starred in a holiday-themed photo shoot from last year.