Eva Mendes has only been designing her collection for New York & Company for a few seasons now, but her design experience goes way back: She created her own prom gown. But unlike many girls who went to prom in the ’90s, she has no regrets about the dress — thanks to a little inspiration from Julia Roberts.
“It actually wasn’t that bad! Considering it was early ’90s and I styled it after the red dress that [Roberts] wears in Pretty Woman,” she tells PEOPLE at an L.A. event for her latest New York & Company collection. “I saw it when I was in ninth grade, and I held on to the image of her in that red dress … in the four years I didn’t deviate from my love of that dress. I just made a short — and what I thought was a cooler — version of that. Looking back, I could have done a lot worse!” (See the photo, below!)
She may not be wearing rom-com-inspired ballgowns anymore, but her style is still super-girlie. “I’m definitely not a ‘jeans’ girl. I’m a dress and skirt girl, and I think that I gravitate towards things that are very feminine,” she says. “I think the way the ladies in the ’50s and ’60s did it, they knew what they were doing back then.”