cover image Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones

Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones

Dolly Parton, with Holly George-Warren and Rebecca Seaver. Ten Speed, $50 (336p) ISBN 978-1-984862-12-9

Country music star Parton (Dolly Parton, Songteller) throws open her closet doors to reveal the show-stopping outfits that have defined her five-plus decades in the limelight. Starting in childhood, Parton used style to “reflect my innermost self” and build confidence—“I can’t do what I’m supposed to do as a performer if I don’t feel comfortable in my own skin,” she informed music industry executives who tried to streamline her larger-than-life fashion into a sleek “1960s pop look.” She always favored big hair, tight and low-cut clothes, and rhinestones (“once I could afford them”), even when they went against the day’s trends. Featured here are several of Parton’s scrap-made “coats of many colors” inspired by her 1971 single of the same name, a short off-the-rack wedding dress from her 1966 wedding to Carl Dean, and an exquisite white beaded gown worn to the 2006 Kennedy Center Honors. Enriched with insights from the star’s designers, hairdressers, and makeup artists (as well her niece, Rebecca Seaver, who curated the collection), this is both a lush visual feast and a testament to the originality and self-possession that made Parton a force to be reckoned with: an entertainer who refused to accede to trends, was firmly in control of her own sexuality, and expanded the stylistic possibilities available to female performers. Fashion lovers and country fans alike will be enchanted. Photos. (Oct.)