The “13 Going on 30” Versace Dress Is Still an Icon 20 Years Later — but the Original Is Lost Forever (Exclusive)

The movie's costume designer, Susie DeSanto, talks PEOPLE through the life of the dress and how often it's recreated as the years go by

<p>Tracy Bennett/Columbia Tri Star/Kobal/Shutterstock </p> Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30

Tracy Bennett/Columbia Tri Star/Kobal/Shutterstock

Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30

Pass the razzles, 13 Going on 30 just turned 20!

It seems like every year, the coming-of-age film finds a new audience who loves it a little more than the last.

In fact, the movie starring Jennifer Garner is more popular than ever, and the striped Versace minidress she wears as Jenna Rink in the "Thriller" dance scene remains one of the most recreated Halloween costumes and sought-after looks in movie history.

Now, as 13 Going on 30 celebrates its 20th anniversary on April 23, the film's costume designer, Susie DeSanto, tells PEOPLE that not only did she never expect that dress to become so iconic, but the beloved piece is also seemingly gone forever.

Yes, the real Versace dress is lost.

<p>Tracy Bennett/Columbia Tri Star/Kobal/Shutterstock </p> Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo in 13 Going on 30

Tracy Bennett/Columbia Tri Star/Kobal/Shutterstock

Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo in 13 Going on 30

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"The dress really wasn't premeditated," she tells PEOPLE of selecting the dress for the scene. In fact, she says she and her team were in a bit of a hurry to pick the look for that scene, so they grabbed this Versace one. It's Jenna's first big party as a 30-year-old magazine editor after transporting from her 13-year-old life and DeSanto needed something that felt fun enough for a teen but rich enough for an adult paycheck.

"Culture took the dress and went with it," she says of how the Versace dress has grown in popularity in the past 20 years. "The reason I think people fall in love with it is because of Jen. I think anybody else in that role, it would've just been a cute movie, but I think right then she was the exact right person with right energy and ability to tap into her youthfulness."

<p>Columbia Tri Star/Kobal/Shutterstock</p> Jennifer Garner and Judy Greer in 13 Going on 30

Columbia Tri Star/Kobal/Shutterstock

Jennifer Garner and Judy Greer in 13 Going on 30

Related: Jennifer Garner Tells Ina Garten That She Ate 22 Shrimp While Filming a Scene in 13 Going on 30

Neither DeSanto nor Garner held onto the dress following the film, and the costume designer isn't quite sure why. She tells PEOPLE that oftentimes costume pieces are put into warehouses where they're reused. However, this dress seemingly vanished somewhere along the way.

Garner has spoken out a few times in the past few years about how she wished she'd kept the dress, even noting that after she saw "her" dress on a background actor on Sex and the City that she was even more bummed that she didn't hold onto it when filming wrapped.

DeSanto isn't convinced that was their dress, though.

"I have a theory about that," she tells PEOPLE. "We were based in Los Angeles. There weren't many of those Versace dresses to begin with. It was a very limited run, so I think somebody found that dress in a consignment store in New York [for Sex and the City]. I don't think it was Jen's dress. Her dress went into a warehouse, and I sadly think it's in a landfill somewhere. Who knows where it is?"

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She says she assumes if the dress was still out there somewhere, it would have been found by now — because collectors would probably have tracked it down. Unfortunately, no one seems to know where it is. Not even Versace has gotten the dress back. The fashion house did, however, recreate the iconic piece for Ariana Grande, who wore it on an episode of The Voice in 2021.

Garner even reached out to Grande to tell her how "beautiful" she looked as the modern-day Jenna Rink. "It's impossible to even tell you how warm and fuzzy it makes me to see that Jenna Rink still has a life," she told PEOPLE at the time.

"[The dress] doesn't even know how popular it became," DeSanto jokes about life the dress took on as the years went by. "It's just gone."

Twenty years later, DeSanto still loves revisiting all of the costumes in 13 Going on 30 — not just the Versace dress. She says she worked with a set decorator on 30-year-old Jenna's closet and decked it out with loaned Fendi bags, including "all of the up-to-the-minute Baguette bags," which she was especially fond of.

<p>Columbia/ Everett </p> Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30

Columbia/ Everett

Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30

The movie, released in 2004, was also primetime for the likes of Marc Jacobs, Miu Miu, Nanette Lepore and other designers who would have been perfect for a magazine editor like Jenna to wear. DeSanto says it was the perfect marriage for her team to partner with those fashion industry powerhouses to fill out Jenna's wardrobe and balance it with expensive-looking pieces that would transition with her as she settled back into the Jenna of her younger years.

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<p>Columbia/ Everett </p> Judy Greer in 13 Going on 30

Columbia/ Everett

Judy Greer in 13 Going on 30

But it's not just Garner in the film. DeSanto also highlights working with Mark Ruffalo and Judy Greer, both of whom were great palettes to dress, she says.

"[Greer is] such a great comic actor, but also she would be like, 'Oh, do I get to wear my bitch dress today?' And she'd make names for all of her clothes, it was really cute," DeSanto says of Greer's character, who was a polar opposite of Garner's.

Ruffalo's Matty, who grows up with Jenna, then away from Jenna and back to Jenna, also goes through a transitional period with his costumes, but it's his wedding attire that has the best story, DeSanto shares.

<p>Columbia</p> Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30


Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30

Spoiler alert: In the end, Jenna and Matty find their happy ending and get married. The wedding sequence was filmed but ended up being set for a reshoot to change the scene, and DeSanto says Garner wasn't fully in love with the wedding dress.

"The original dress was chosen for a reason because that scene was them bouncing on trampolines," she says. "They wanted a lot of tulle, so the tulle was flying in the air. But then they changed that when we did the reshoot. I asked Jen if she was cool to wear that dress, and she goes, 'I was never a big fan of that dress.'"

She had very little time to find a new wedding dress for Garner for the reshoot, but she worked her connections and was able to get her the Angel Sanchez dress before it was too late.

But then Ruffalo felt left out.

"Mark was like, 'Wait a minute. She gets a new dress. Do I get a new tux?' So off I went to Dolce & Gabbana and got him a new tux," she adds.

DeSanto still can't believe the movie has held so strong for 20 years, but she attributes its longevity to the magic of the cast and the story.

"I think the message of the movie is a really strong, clear message to people about being yourself, believing in yourself and doing things that feel comfortable and being who you are and all that kind of stuff," she says.

It's also got a lot of really fun clothes that have clearly stood the test of time and will continue to be recreated for another 20 years (or more)!

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