'Notebook' Costume Designer on How Kobe Bryant Found Dress for Vanessa: 'He Was That Determined'

"When I was finished with the movie, I put the dress in a box and it went into storage," Karyn Wagner said

Karyn Wagner was beyond touched when she learned this week that late NBA superstar Kobe Bryant gifted his wife the blue dress from 2004 film The Notebook.

The costume designer revealed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter this week that she had “zero idea” the Bryants now owned the ’40s-style dress Rachel McAdams wore in the drama.

Though Vanessa, 37, posted a photo of the dress back in 2013, most learned of Kobe’s gift to his wife on Monday during her eulogy at the celebration of life for the late athlete and their daughter in Los Angeles.

“When I asked him why he chose the blue dress [from the movie], he said it was because it’s the scene when Allie comes back to Noah,” said Vanessa. “We had hoped to grow old together like [in] the movie. We really had an amazing love story.”

She continued: “We loved each other with our whole beings, two perfectly imperfect people making a beautiful family and raising our sweet and amazing girls.”

Vanessa Bryant and the Notebook
Kevin Mazur/Getty; Moviestore/Shutterstock

After hearing Vanessa’s words, Wagner told THR, “I started bawling. I’m still drying the tears off my face. What a beautiful eulogy. I’m so honored that I was able to contribute in some small way to the history of this amazing man.”

She was also unsure how Bryant even found the costume, explaining, “When I was finished with the movie, I put the dress in a box and it went into storage.”

Wagner similarly said in an interview with Access Hollywood, “When I finish a film, my team and I, we inventory everything, we put it in boxes, and we never see it again. So I don’t know how Kobe even tracked this dress down.”

“He has to have spent a lot of time and a lot of effort. He was that good and he was that determined to show his wife how much he loved her.”

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Also in her speech, Vanessa called Kobe her “soulmate” who “had a tender heart.”

“I want my daughters to know the amazing person, husband and father he was,” said Vanessa. “The kind of man who wanted to teach the future generations to be better … he taught us all valuable lessons about life and sports … we’re so thankful he left those lessons and stories behind for us.”

In November, Vanessa and Kobe marked the 20-year anniversary of the day they first met in 1999 (the two tied the knot in 2001).

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