Dressing Dolly: A look inside her CMA Awards wardrobe

CMA Awards

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Dolly Parton says she never lets a rhinestone go unturned and we are giving you a look inside where Dolly keeps those jewels.

“I’ve actually changed this one a little bit,” Steve Summers explained while sketching quickly on a design.

Summers is Dolly’s Creative Director. He showed us the inspiration behind the looks you will see her wear on country music’s biggest night. Her CMA Awards wardrobe came to life right in front of our lens.

“These will be kind of opened and this will have feathers on it there and then this skirt a little fuller and these will have little feathers on it and the whole thing is gold and white it’s going to be a really beautiful dress,” he explained.

Summers says his team is trying something new on the country icon.

“It’s a brilliant idea. I just don’t know that we pulled it off right. I’ll know Tuesday if it did or didn’t and you will know when you watch the CMA’s if it worked,” he laughed.

The plan is for Dolly to wear a basic slip that Summers will build multiple looks off of throughout the awards show.

“It’s a basic slip, it’s 18 inches in the front and 20 inches in the back. It’s basically a silver, white concept. It will have a zipper up the back and then basically you put different tops on top of it,” said Summers.

Dolly will don around a half dozen looks, but each will have a backup or two.

“We will bring about 20 costumes at least. You have to do it, because you are one zipper away from catastrophe and it happens and it has happened to me and it happens often. I have been with her on stage when the zipper broke and you had to figure out what to do. I have been with her on stage when somebody spilled coffee on her outfit. I’ve been there for those things. I know and I plan worst-case scenario all the time and it does drive everybody around me crazy because they have to produce all this stuff.”

He laughs that his staff often calls him the Tasmanian Devil.

“It’s easy for me to say I have got to have two alternatives for this, it’s not easy for them to make them.”

Related: A look behind Dolly Parton’s iconic style

For the 53rd Annual CMA Awards, he says we will see fewer rhinestones on Dolly.

“When she says she wants it toned down a little bit, that means instead of 50,000 stones there is going to be 10,000 so there is going to be plenty (laughs) Dolly will sparkle forever, that’s a given,” he smiled.

Summers says she will sport a more angelic look in pastels.

“The inspiration that we did on this particular set of drawings is very flowy and very angelic, almost fairy-like. It will have sparkles on it, but it won’t have as much.”

Then he says there are the accessories; jewelry, gloves, and shoes.

“Christian Louboutin makes most of our shoes. I try to do blank shoes meaning it’s just one color that makes it simpler to go with things because these cost a fortune. Every pair of shoes cost a fortune and so I try not to make shoes to go with particular outfits if I don’t have to because you are talking about thousands of dollars just in shoes,” Summers explained.

He says it all has to tie in together, with Dolly’s big iconic blonde hair being the cherry on top.

“The beauty of Dolly is that she wears wigs because she doesn’t want to take the time to sit for the time it takes to do her own hair. If you are going to do 7 different looks on a show clothing-wise, she will want 7 completely different looks hair-wise,” said Summers.

Summers also has to keep in mind what kind of clothes Carrie and Reba will be wearing, what color the backdrop is, the curtains. Then there are details like where her mic pack will be hidden.

He also said when making clothes that Dolly will sing in, Summers puts elastic panels in her outfit so that her diaphragm isn’t restricted.

While Dolly has been dolled up at nearly every awards show, Summers says the CMA Awards are where her heart hangs.

“The CMA’s are really important to Dolly just because of the fact that it’s country music. That’s her base, that’s her fans, that’s her people, so it matters a lot to her that this is pulled off perfectly. These are her friends to that she is working with, these are girls she has worked with forever, so this is very important that we get this right from the get-go for her, this is personal.”

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