Eva Longoria has a secret — she’s actually an accomplished seamstress.
“I have an industrial sewing machine in my house and I’m so excited when they develop a new pedal. ‘Ooh, now I can do a chain stitch,’” she laughed. “People think I’m crazy.”
The award-winning actress, director and entrepreneur said she’s been sewing her whole life, starting with throw pillows and duvets and moving into apparel, creating everything from “Halloween costumes to dresses” for herself and her friends. “It’s one of the things people don’t know about me,” she said. “I sew.”
And in her global travels, Longoria always looks for “patterns and textiles” to create her fashions.
So it makes sense that she would one day launch an apparel collection.
Longoria, who catapulted to fame as Gabrielle Solis on the hit ABC series “Desperate Housewives” in 2004, said she’s always wanted to have her own fashion line, but the timing wasn’t right.
“I’m a control freak about anything relating to my brand and myself,” she said.
Right now, she has two fragrances, Eva by Eva Longoria and EVAmour, with Falic Fashion Group, as well as a cookbook, and earlier this year, she teamed up with J.C. Penney on a line of bedding.
“Now it’s time to move into apparel,” Longoria said. “I finally have the time to dedicate to it. Before, I was just too busy.”
Longoria turned to Los Angeles-based sportswear manufacturer Sunrise Brands to create a women’s apparel collection that will launch for fall 2016 and eventually expand into footwear, handbags and fashion accessories. The line will consist of dresses, career apparel and casual sportswear. The pricing and distribution have yet to be determined. An e-commerce platform will also be created by Sunrise’s digital team.
Sunrise is also working with actress Melissa McCarthy on her Seven7 apparel collection that will be introduced later this year.
Longoria said she will be intimately involved in the design of the line, which is just in its “beginning phases. We’re going through my closet now and picking fabulous pieces.”
One thing is for sure: The line will “offer women versatility while evoking confidence, comfort and a sense of glamour,” Longoria said.
Her glamour is well known. The 40-year-old began her career in the public eye in 1998 after she was crowned Miss Corpus Christi, Texas, and she is widely considered one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood. But Longoria, who has a master’s degree in Chicano Studies from California State University Northridge, considers herself pretty low-maintenance. Sure, she said, she’s often been photographed on the red carpet in “amazing dresses,” but she’s “not trendy.”
“I would describe my personal style as classic and comfortable,” she said. “Not only my garments, but my own skin, too. If someone tells me flares are in,” for example, she said, she shrugs it off. “I’m too short for flares.”
Instead, she leans heavily toward dresses. “I like one-pieces,” she said. “They’re easy to wear — it’s just zip and go. If I have to wear a camisole and a belt and a necklace and a skirt, it’s just too much trouble.”
The 5-foot, 2-inch actress is partial to Roland Mouret and his “exposed zippers” and said she is “the biggest fan of Victoria Beckham. The cuts of her dresses and the fabrics are amazing. You look at the textiles and the stitches and you know why they’re so expensive. And it’s really cut for me.”
She also respects Beckham’s ability to make the jump from entertainer to fashion designer. “She lives and breathes fashion,” Longoria said. “She spends every waking hour on it.”
While Longoria doesn’t expect the introduction of her own fashion line means she will have to give up her day job, she believes her aesthetic will find fans among women.
“I always say you don’t need to spend a lot of money to look great,” she said, noting the collection should appeal to the “working woman who wants things to transition from work to night. She doesn’t want to spend a lot on her wardrobe, but still wants to look like a million bucks.”
In the eyes of Gerard Guez, chairman and founder of Sunrise Brands, Longoria “represents high-end inspirational fashion with universal appeal. Her ability to create brands is evident in the various licenses and businesses that she has been a part of. We see unlimited potential for Eva in the fashion space.”
Jackie Swerz, Sunrise’s chief marketing officer, agreed, noting: “The concept of a fashion collection with Eva Longoria immediately struck our company as an exciting opportunity as she is consistently recognized in the press for red carpet and street style. Her fashion credibility coupled with her powerful connection to fans offers a unique platform on which to build a successful lifestyle brand.”
One thing that lifestyle brand must have is a philanthropic bent.
Longoria has been a champion of Latinas with both her Eva Longoria Foundation, which helps Latin women build better futures through education and entrepreneurship, and her Eva’s Heroes nonprofit organization that helps enrich the lives of those with special needs. Her sister Elizabeth has Down syndrome.
“We’re definitely going to give back in some way,” said Longoria, who was named as one of the highest-paid TV actresses by Forbes in 2011. “Whether that’s through creating jobs or where we source our textiles. We want to align ourselves with philanthropy and empower women.”
So what’s next?
“I’m going back to work,” she said with a big smile. “And I’m finally going back to television.” She’ll star as Ana Sofia in the new NBC midseason comedy, “Hot & Bothered,” where she plays the star of a Spanish soap opera who “doesn’t speak Spanish. It’s behind-the-scenes and so fun.” ■