23 October

“It’s hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world.” Why is Dolly Parton the ultimate icon?

 

The 72-year old country singer is the unexpected muse of Gucci’s spring 2019 collection. Singer, actress and writer, she continues to seduce with her wild stage outfits and her awesome one-liners. Those millennial popstars have got nothing on Dolly.

By Violaine Schütz

Dolly Parton photographed by Andy Warhol (Polaroid)

She’s like a character from a John Waters movie

 

 It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.” Like the imaginary lovechild of Jayne Mansfield and Mae West, whose uncle could be called Elton John, Dolly Parton has cultivated an image of excessive and explosive femininity. Glamourous, kitsch, white trash, sexy, the blond bimbo has always bordered on the sublime, the vulgar and the ridiculous. She’s never denied her plastic surgery, claiming if people say she looks happy then it must down to the Botox. She’s stayed loyal to her country gal pin-up wardrobe that has become as famous as her songs. And it was undoubtedly this luminescent panoply that inspired Alessandro Michele for his spring 2019 collection in denim, candy pink and glitter. This legendary look was created by Dolly after seeing a prostitute in the village where she grew up. A fan of drag-queens, she confirms she once lost a Dolly Parton look-alike drag contest. Seeming to constantly play a role and willingly mock herself, the singer is a precursor to the madness of Kanye West, transforming her life into a performance. This love of staging herself reached its climax in 1986 when she bought a theme park in Tennessee that she renamed Dollywood. Her very own Hollywood, just like Elvis’s Graceland and Michael Jackson’s Neverland. Adding to the legend Dolly the sheep, the first ever cloned mammal was apparently named after the singer’s generous chest, with the cloning having taken place in Scotland using mammary gland cells. You couldn’t make it up…

Andy Warhol and Dolly Parton (1986), Sam Bolton

She’s a slasher of many talents 

 

The queen of country music with 100 million albums sold and 3000 songs to her name is best known for her voice with hits like Dumb blonde (1967), I Will Always Love You  (a 1974 hit she refused to give Elvis but that immortalised Whitney Houston in 1992), and the sublime Jolene (1973), the hymn of a betrayed woman with its lesbian undertones that was covered by the White Stripes and remixed by Todd Terje. A superstar in her chosen domain, Miley Cyrus’ godmother even said no to Peter Gabrielle when he asked her to duet with him on Don't Give Up and had to give it to Kate Bush instead. But Dolly is also a song writer and composer, a multi-instrumentalist, script writer, producer, writer (the logical continuation of her sense of repartee) and actress. At the movies she's loved for her roles in 9 to 5 (1980) alongside Jane Fonda and Steel Magnolias (1989) with Sally Field as well as her musical contribution to Transamerica (2006), nominated at the Oscars. Her next adventure on screen? A mini-series for Netflix planned for 2019 which she’ll be producing, composing for as well as acting and singing in.

Dolly Parton celebrated at the spring-summer 2019 Gucci show.

She’s come a long way 

 

 If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.”  Which is exactly what Dolly Rebecca Parton did, her background a million miles from the rhinestones and sequins. But as she likes to say, “if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain’. Born on January 19th 1946 in Sevierville, a one-horse town in Tennessee, into a family of 12 children with a carpenter father, she had the will of a titan to talk to the stars. Growing up in desperate poverty in a little wooden house with five kids to a bed, there were a few distractions apart from an unerring maternal love. The family outings to the church where she would sing from the age of 6, and the guitar she fashioned herself age 7 to sing along with the radio. As a teenager she sought out the man in black himself, Johnny Cash, who told her to follow her intuition. At 18 she listened to him and went to Nashville, the capital of country music, where not long after the glory years came. But she never forgot her roots, evoking in her songs her memories of the farm and spending millions on recreating the wooden home of her childhood. Marked for life by the destitution of her rural past, she has worked for the most noble causes. Since 1990 she’s been part of a library project offering books to children. She raises money for AIDS charities and campaigns for PETA. Her commitment to LGBT causes earned her the wrath of the KKK. Yes indeed, behind her polished country Barbie veneer, Dolly Parton hides an authenticity and a heart as big as the diamonds encrusted on her shimmering jumpsuits.

“I Will Always Love You” – Dolly Parton

5 unforgettable Dolly Parton quotes:

 

• “When I was with Andy Warholthought, ‘Godhis wig looks cheaper than mine’”

 

• “I'm not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I'm not dumb... and I also know that I'm not blond.”

 

• “I was the first woman to burn my bra - it took the fire department four days to put it out.”

 

• “ My weaknesses have always been food and men - in that order.”

 

•  "It's hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world.”

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