One of the things Vanessa Bryant mentioned during her emotional speech Monday at the public memorial for her husband Kobe Bryant and their 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, is that the NBA legend had purchased the blue dress that Rachel McAdams wore for a pivotal scene in the 2004 romance The Notebook for her.
Nicholas Sparks, who wrote the book the movie is based on, mourned Kobe in a statement to Yahoo Entertainment: “While I’m honored that the film reminded Kobe and Vanessa of their love for each other, my heart is broken for the entire Bryant family. They remain in my prayers.”
The movie’s costume designer, Karyn Wagner, was surprised to hear the Bryants’ connection to it. While Vanessa had revealed the frock’s whereabouts on social media back in 2013, Wagner found out about it along with most everyone else as she watched the memorial. The last she knew, it had been returned to the studio.
“I had no idea. I’m not a huge sports fan, so as much as I admire Kobe and his career and all the amazing things he’s done for the community, I had never followed his life that closely,” Wagner tells Yahoo Entertainment. “So when this came up, I was like, ‘Well, what? Wow! What an honor.’ Really, what an honor to have given him joy.”
The dress is the one that Allie, the character played by McAdams, wears as she confronts Noah, the character played by Ryan Gosling, in the movie’s climactic scene. It shows her arguing with Noah about whether she’s going to choose him, the man she truly loves, or whether she’s going to end up with the man her parents think is a much better fit.
Wagner designed the garment from scratch, as she did most of McAdams’s ‘40s-era wardrobe. There weren’t many things a wealthy young woman, like Allie, would have worn back then, still around in good condition, when they were making the beloved film. Wagner knew she had a big job, creating a “very important dress that had to speak to a lot of things.”
She wanted it to encapsulate Allie’s emotional state.
“When I felt the fabric, I knew immediately that she needed to have a dress that spoke to the two states of her mind. That she was being pressured, on the one hand, from her family to become a certain kind of person, and that’s reflected in the very sophisticated shape of the dress,” Wagner explains, “but she also had come all this way to say something entirely different to the man that she’d loved her entire life, and that’s reflected in the sort of joyous color of the silk and the hopefulness of the dress itself, and the very simplicity of the trim and buttons. The dress has very few extra details, it was a very simplified dress.”
Wagner’s work on that movie turned out to be very important to the late Lakers star.
As his wife went on to say at the podium Monday, Kobe was a big fan of tearjerkers. He also appreciated Steel Magnolias and Little Women, although we don’t know which version.
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