Before Twilight and it’s various derivatives, The Notebook‘s domination, Josh Duhamel chopping wood shirtless, and the many, many star-crossed lover dramas featuring terminally-ill teens, there was a movie that forever imprinted itself on young millennials.
A Walk to Remember, starring then-16-year-old pop sensation Mandy Moore and Once And Again heartthrob/punk singer Shane West, was the original ‘sickly lead’ romance, with West’s character, the resident bad boy and ruler of the school, falling for the nerdy, goody-good local minister’s daughter (Moore). Yesterday, West delivered an ode to the actress-singer at her Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony: “Mandy, you’re an absolute gem, your smile is ridiculous, seriously, it’s ridiculous, it lights up a room when you walk in, your energy is irresistible and your heart is second to none,” he said.
It was a real moment for anyone (myself) that became irrationally and irrevocably obsessed with the pair in the after-glow of A Walk to Remember‘s release. It didn’t help that Moore was also admittedly in love with West during filming. “Shane was so cool,” she said in a recent interview. “Everything about him—the way he dressed, the little cigarettes that he smoked, and the music he listened to. I don’t know if I could discern the difference between him and the character at that point in time because, again, it was my first experience doing anything like this and I was a 16-year-old, impressionable girl.”
Moore was in as deep as the rest of us, especially when the film already had every element to incite a riotous fandom among young girls: the redeemed bad-boy narrative (you can DEFINITELY fix him, ladies!), a relationship with an expiration date (no one likes to grow bored), and, most importantly, a makeover.
Now, this cannot be emphasized enough: Mandy Moore was objectively beautiful, even in her dowdy cardigans and maxi skirts. There was no Princess Diaries-esque breaking of brushes, nor montage as she attempts different looks before landing on the right one. Her emergence from the geeky chrysalis was admirably simple, coinciding with her taking the stage as the lead in the school play (which West’s character, Landon, is coerced into co-starring in). There is no lead up. We are completely unprepared for her transformation—which was created solely by a curling iron and The Dress.
The Dress was a floor-length, ice blue satin halter-neck with a tightly cinched waist and two-foot-long train. It was the kind of dress that would work 20 years ago, and 20 years from now, and in it, she sang one of the greatest movie theme songs ever written. At the end, Landon goes off-book and unexpectedly kisses Jamie (Moore), and we were forever ruined. It’s safe to say costume designer Doug Hall knocked it definitively out of the park.
Watch the full scene below.