In this cover story, VIOLET GREY collaborated with actress Eva Mendes following a conversation sparked by the amusing oddities of celebrating Christmas in Los Angeles. Here, the thermostat hovers around t-shirt and light cardigan weather, twinkling lights scale slender palm trees and the eggnog is served up chilled, poolside. There’s an old Slim Aarons photograph that perfectly captures this notion—his wife, Rita, is seen floating about in a pool, a seemingly normal California scene save for the enormous Christmas tree rising out of one end.
It’s this particular image that Mendes recalls during a pre-production meeting for the cover story. “I’m an actress,” she says while peering at a table in the VIOLET GREY studio, covered in similar photographs. “Photo shoots are best, and always more fun, when I transform into another persona.” And thus, the character of Dolores Carmen, dreamed up from the mind of Mendes, was brought to life for VIOLET GREY.
The location then would be integral to the story of Dolores Carmen, a woman devoted to her immaculate home, meticulously wrapped presents, and lush faux eye lashes. After much deliberation Mendes decided upon the Brody House, an iconic piece of Los Angeles architecture, built in 1949 by A. Quincy Jones, who was consistently drawn to the natural fusion of outdoor and indoor spaces within a singular structure—a concept that wholly suits a Christmas fête in warm weather. There would, of course, be a Christmas tree in the atrium.
To preserve the world of Dolores Carmen, photographer Guy Aroch was selected for his ability to capture the essence of a woman through a soft-focus, voyeuristic approach. Mendes, who became Dolores Carmen through the exceptional transformational effects of nail artist Karen Gutierrez, stylist Jamie Schneider, hair and makeup by artists Steeve Daviault and Beau Nelson respectively, was articulate about creating vignettes of Dolores as she obsessively prepared for a holiday so synonymous with a winter wonderland, yet could be made just as magical in Los Angeles.
When we first encounter Mendes as Dolores Carmen, it’s an early but already warm morning in Los Angeles. Aroch snaps shot after shot of her as she alights from an immense bed with curlers in her hair, nary a faux eyelash out of place, and a wash of pink lipstick on her lips. With the Paris Sisters’ 1961 hit, “I Love How You Love Me”, playing in the background, Mendes makes her way through the Brody House in one considered outfit after another, living life as Dolores Carmen. “She’s the kind of girl who wakes up with her hair done because she had it coiffed in the salon the day before,” whispers VIOLET GREY founder, Cassandra Huysentruyt Grey, to anyone within earshot on-set. “Eva Mendes might not wear red but Dolores Carmen wears red.”
“Dolores is the kind of woman who thinks dishwashers are a bit excessive but dons evening gloves while arranging flowers; she finds BEAUTY where it’s often left unnoticed— in the tenderness of a broken heart or the FRAGILITY in a wilted petal.”— EVA MENDES on DOLORES CARMEN
She imports her mistletoe from France, where the rules include French kissing.
She sprinkles cinnamon scented oil throughout her home starting on the first of December.
She plays Bing Crosby’s Christmas album for her poinsettias on Tuesdays and Mort Garson’s Plantasia on Wednesdays.
She wears her new Christmas pajamas all day and through Christmas dinner—as do her guests.
She believes that the best color palette for holiday trimmings are pastel pink and green, pale blue and yellow.
She serves spiced hot cider in delicate tea cups.
She leaves a plateful of French macaroons out for Santa, alongside a note sealed with a kiss.
She arranges flowers with her silk evening gloves on to protect her hands.
She serves her eggnog chilled and shaken, not stirred.
“She places boxes of CHOCOLATES on her neighbors’ porches with notes from Mrs. Claus.” — Eva Mendes
to never cry
over spilt red
now there’s a
— EVA MENDES on DOLORES CARMEN
@ Violet Grey
- PHOTOGRAPHER: Guy Aroch @ Jed Root
- SUBJECT: Eva Mendes as Dolores Carmen
- CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Eva Mendes
- EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Edward Brachfeld
- HAIR STYLIST: Steeve Daviault @ LinkNYLA
- MAKEUP ARTIST: Beau Nelson @ The Wall Group
- NAIL ARTIST: Karen Gutierrez @ Nailing Hollywood
- STYLIST: Jamie Schneider @ The Magnet Agency
- PRODUCER: Brandon Zagha
- PHOTO ASSISTANT: Matthew Sprout
- PRODUCTION: Brachfeld
- LOCATION: Brody House, Holmby Hills, California