With each new clothing collection actress and designer Eva Mendes creates, her number one fan is always her longtime love, Ryan Gosling.
“Ryan is incredibly supportive and he’s always in awe,” Mendes tells PEOPLE exclusively about Gosling’s support of her New York & Company clothing line.
The Hitch actress has been designing with the brand for six years now, and Gosling still has to remind Mendes of her hard work.
“He makes me realize that is actually a lot of work,” Mendes adds. “I have so much fun doing it, that I don’t really realize.”
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He also gives his input on his favorite pieces. “He’s been loving the pants I’ve been doing,” she says. “I’ve been getting into pants more, especially soft pants like joggers.”
When she’s looking for inspiration in the design process, Mendes always turns to the women in her family.
“Ryan’s mom, Ryan’s sister, my mom, my sisters, my grandma are all my fashion guinea pigs,” Mendes explains. “Nobody is going to be more honest than family, and our family is very honest. It’s something I really appreciate because when designing something, you need real feedback.”
“And then of course when you see your family in one of your dresses, your creations, it’s beautiful, because you know they’re not doing you any favors,” she adds.
Mendes also is inspired by vintage items worn by her mother when she’s thinking up new designs.
“I’m totally emotional about clothes,” she says. “I use my own memories and photographs of my family to create clothes. I’ll randomly text or email at 4 in the morning and say, ‘We need to recreate this silk jogger pant with this silk bow blouse, please! My mom wore something like this in the ’80s.’”
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Of course, her day-to-day life helps inspire pieces as well. As a mother to two daughters, Amada Lee, 3, and Esmeralda Amada, 5, the actress relies on jogger sweatpants and T-shirts for everyday, and loves wearing dresses and heels for date nights with Gosling.
“The other night, I went out wearing my mini dress from the fall col