Designer Breaks Silence Over Infamous Lara Flynn Boyle Tutu Dress

Meriah Doty
Yahoo Movies

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Lara Flynn Boyle at the 2003 Golden Globe Awards, Inset - designer David Cardona
Lara Flynn Boyle at the 2003 Golden Globe Awards, Inset - designer David Cardona

Who can forget the ballerina-inspired number Lara Flynn Boyle wore to the Golden Globe Awards in 2003?

Designer David Cardona, who dressed the actress dozens of times, including on that fateful night, can't. "'You'll see. Watch what happens,'" he recalls Boyle telling him as he nervously readied her for her ballerina-inspired debut — foreboding words in retrospect.

The L.A.-based designer spoke publicly for the first time about the infamous tutu dress, telling Yahoo Movies, "People are still talking about it 10 years later… like Miley [Cyrus] — we're still talking about her, aren't we?"

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In case you don't remember, critics have often pegged the outfit as being on par with Bjork's notorious swan dress. "That was a little more Sesame Street," argues Cardona, explaining enormous detail went into Boyle's decidedly couture design. The torso of garment was made of "very soft suede," he says of a detail that was hard to decipher from photographs. The skirt was pure silk tulle, encrusted with Swarovski crystals. And Boyle's shoes were Chanel with silk ribbons "which she tied up length of her calf."

When the actress saw the finished dress for the first time, she was thrilled. Cardona recalls her saying something along the lines of: "'Wow, this is amazing! I can't believe what you were able to create."

Fans of the look applauded it for being a rare fashion risk on a major red carpet. "All the Europeans thought it was genius," Cardona contends. Still, he admits to having reservations about the whole thing from the start.

[Related: Which Golden Globes Best Actor Contenders Will Make the Oscar Cut?]

Boyle in a Marlyn Monroe-inspired gown at the '99 Emmys (Photo: Jeff Vespa/WireImage)
Boyle in a Marlyn Monroe-inspired gown at the '99 Emmys (Photo: Jeff Vespa/WireImage)

Cardona has dressed the likes of Rihanna, Britney Spears, Seal, and Sharon Stone. He won an Emmy (along with Bob Mackie) in 2000 for creating stage costumes for Cher and was nominated for two Emmys after dressing Janet Jackson for three world tours. He even designed Jenny McCarthy's 1999 wedding gown when she married John Mallory Asher.

But his best-known work is arguably that divisive Boyle frock. "Really? Are you sure?" he recalls telling the actress when she proposed her plan to "dress up as a ballerina." Against multiple warnings, he says, she stuck to her guns.

Cardona found the assignment perplexing because it was the only occasion he worked with her when she didn't reference old Hollywood. "One time she wore a black full strapless gown in reference to Audrey Hepburn… another time she wore see-through chiffon that was very Marilyn Monroe" (seen left).

On the carpet, Joan Rivers told her "You have such guts," after Boyle joked that she was either a prima ballerina or a prima donna. Cardona recalls being on the sidelines for that comment, practically biting his nails. "I remember very clearly at the time being very nervous about it. I was taking a risk for my reputation as well as for hers."

But Cardona has few regrets about the infamous pink tutu — which Boyle kept in her possession after the '03 Globes show. "People dissipate into the oblivion unless they do stupid things," he says with a laugh.

Yahoo Movies reached out to Lara Flynn Boyle regarding this article but did not hear back in time for its publication.

Kwala Luria contributed to this report.

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