Izzie’s iconic pink prom dress on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ had to be custom made by a wedding-dress designer because Shonda Rhimes kept wanting it to be ‘bigger’

Izzie’s iconic pink prom dress on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ had to be custom made by a wedding-dress designer because Shonda Rhimes kept wanting it to be ‘bigger’

  • Shonda Rhimes wanted Izzie’s prom dress to be “bigger” on the “Grey’s Anatomy” season two finale.
  • According to a new book, the rose-pink dress ended up being custom made by Amsale. 
  • “It went to Disney World in Florida for a long time,” said the “Grey’s Anatomy” costume designer.

One of the most heartbreaking scenes in “Grey’s Anatomy” history is also the most visually stunning thanks to an iconic pink “prom” dress that almost never saw the light of day. 

On the show’s season two finale, “Losing My Religion,” Izzie (Katherine Heigl) and the other interns are attending the prom they planned for the niece of Dr. Richard Webber (Jim Pickens Jr.) at the hospital when Izzie’s fiancé Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) dies of an apparent stroke caused by complications after heart-transplant surgery. 

Upon finding him dead in his hospital bed, Izzie climbs in to be with him, huge, rose-pink dress and all. Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) has to gently lift her to extract her from her place beside Denny’s dead body, gathering all of the layers in his arms. 

According to “How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy” by Entertainment Weekly editor at large Lynette Rice, the show’s costume designer Mimi Melgaard struggled to find the perfect dress for Izzie to wear during the tragic moment because series creator and then-showrunner Shonda Rhimes had a very specific vision in mind. 

Katherine Heigl and Justin Chambers.

Heigl and Justin Chambers.

Scott Garfield/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images


“That year in Los Angeles, all the dresses were very gauzy and long and soft,” Melgaard said, according to the book. “I’d fit Katie in dresses and Shonda would be like, ‘No, no. I want bigger.” 

Melgaard was pressed for time and couldn’t find anything to Rhimes’ liking on her own. She ended up having to call famed wedding-dress brand Amsale and asked them to make the dress in a week. 

But the time crunch and the stress of securing the pink gown with the stunning broach accent was worth it for the art it helped create, according to the costume designer. “When you see the shot of Izzie in the elevator, and then Izzie lying across Denny, and then the shot of Alex holding her with her dress hanging down…those are the shots that Shonda saw in her head,” said Melgaard.

Melgaard said Rhimes wanted a “beautiful princess dress” that “had its own voice” to create a “Cinderella” moment for Izzie. 

Katherine Heigl

Heigl on “Losing My Religion.”

Scott Garfield/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images


They couldn’t have known it at the time, but Melgaard, Rhimes, and Amsale together created a dress that’s had a life beyond “Grey’s Anatomy.” “It went to Disney World in Florida for a long time,” said Melgaard according to the book. “It goes on tour. That dress tours places!” 

“How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy” gives readers further insight about the work that went into creating the show’s most memorable moments.

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