How Did Dolly Parton Save Christmas?
Was it due to her 1 million dollar donation towards Coronavirus Vaccine Research? No, but that certainly has helped with the advancements and the much needed hope during our global pandemic.
Was it due to the wonderful work completed by her literary program, Imagination Library, launched in 1995 and the more than 100 million children’s books that have been donated making it one of the largest literary programs globally? No, but you can learn more about the program on their website here and watch the 2020 documentary about the program on Youtube.
Was it because she released, “A Holly Dolly Christmas”, her first Christmas Album in over 30 years? No, but it has certainly helped bring the joy to the holidays after a dumpster fire of a year.
Was it because she released her book “Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics”? No, but her new book is the perfect Holiday Gift for Dolly Fans, told in her own words covering the songs that defined her indescribable life and career, filled with photos, stories and memories . It was also not the Dolly Parton Collection on Williams Sonoma. While the above are just a few of the reasons to love Dolly Parton and the positivity that she radiates, they are not what I am referring to when I write that she has saved Christmas in 2020.
“Deck the Halls with joys of Dolly in this musically entertaining family treat.”Jackie K. Cooper – Rotten Tomatoes
I am referring to how Dolly Parton produced, wrote 14 new original songs and starred in the Holiday Netflix film Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square where her character literally helps save Christmas. In this loosely based musical adaption of Dickens A Christmas Carol, we follow a Grinch-like Regina Fuller (played by The Good Wife’s Christine Baranski) as she evicts the residents in the small Middle American town, Fullerville, so the land can be sold to a mall conglomerate. Baranski is no stranger to Holiday films as she had starred in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Bad Moms Christmas and the Lifetime movie Recipe for a Perfect Christmas.
Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square was filmed in the 2019 hot Atlanta Summer which is not uncommon for productions of made for TV Holiday movies. While many may not realize, it is not an easy task to outfit an entire cast in winterwear during the during the summer as most stores do not have inventory of fall or winter clothing available. However, Costume Designer, Provi Fulp, proved that she was up to the task designing the costumes for the cast perfectly depicting the winter middle America small town residents, as well as, peppering the glitz and sparkle of Dolly that we have all grown to love. This movie reminds us of the reason for the holiday by tugging on the heart strings of the audience touching on emotional deep themes, dazzling with numerous choreographed musical numbers, giving a few twists and turns to bring Regina to redemption and receive forgiveness for those she had wronged.
Dolly Parton’s costumes were designed by her Creative Director, Steve Summers. He is the talented man behind the legend, having worked with Parton for over 29 years designing her iconic wardrobe, album covers and all things creative including stage sets of Parton’s brand. His career started in 1991 when he auditioned at her theme park Dollywood as a singer and dancer during his last semester of college. While at Dollywood, Summers was involved in set and costume design with his hard work and talent catching the eye of the Dolly Parton herself. Parton sees the potential in those she brings onto her team wanting to invest, cultivate and help with realizing their full potential. She did just that with Summers, sending him to the Fashion Institute of Technology. Her investment paid off as he has been responsible for designing or cultivating from other designers the clothes for the most recognizable and down to earth woman. You can read more about Steve Summers and his journey with Dolly Parton here.
Summer’s costumes in Christmas on the Square are perfection. They prove that he is clearly the right man to be her Creative Director. We start the movie off with the Angel singing on the street as a homeless woman. While the down trot-in beggar costume is a far cry from the sparkle and glamour we are used to seeing Parton wear, it still gives off Dolly vibes with the shredded textured grey scarf, loose feathers in the cuff and holes in the matching grey gloves and jacket. While it becomes apparent that the request for change is not literal in the monetary sense but instead the change requested is from deep within the views and actions of those to whom she is speaking. Dolly’s personal humanity and grace shines throughout the scene.
Her sassy angel costumes in the movie are all white, representing purity, faith and goodwill. However, it wouldn’t be a Dolly Parton Costume without glitz and shine. Summer design and costume choices ensured that while Parton is acting and playing a part in this movie, the costumes are everything we have come to love and expect from the icon, the 10-inch matching heels, crystal fingerless gloves, jewelry, star shaped ring and feathers. There was no detailed left out or rhine-STONE unturned including the sparkles added to her casual white jeans giving a hint of glint while on the other side of the spectrum, the fabulous and over top Finale Angel wing topper ball gown.
“I hope if I have another hallucination it won’t be wearing rhinestones”Christine baranski as Regina Fuller
“…the higher the hair, the closer to the North Pole!”
While designing the movie, Costume Designer, Provi Fulp also collaborated with Steve Summers to ensure Dolly inspired looks and the cast were cohesive. Specifically in the costume of the character Felicity Sorenson, Regina Fuller’s assistant played by Jeanine Mason and her close relationship to the angel, Dolly Parton. The preppy, warm sweet innocent looks of Felicity shines through the screen as she apologizes to the residents while doing Regina’s bidding. Fulp stated to Refinery 29 that she selected J.Crew pieces to convey a warm appealing character and topped them off with the Dolly-esque sparkle on the neckline. My favorite Felicity costume piece is, a blink and you may miss it, shinning crystal angel wing hair clip. The final ensemble of Felicity’s was a collaboration between Fulp, Summers and others of Dolly’s team. With their choice on using Atlanta Designer, Maria Harper Designs and her tulle dress made the entire scene. I imagine it would be easy to get lost sitting next to Dolly’s sparkling persona, the costume choice had to be able to stand on its own and wow while still complimenting the stunning Parton and radiate Jeanine Mason’s beautiful features. Their choice to use Harper’s design elevated the character and perfectly complimented Dolly’s final look. The stunning tulle dress had over 1,200 Swarovski crystals.
Fulp is no stranger to dressing characters that are powerful business woman, her Costume Design work on the tv show Being Mary Jane certainly proved that. The evolution of Regina’s costume in Christmas on the Square is one of the many reasons why Fulp was the perfect choice for Costume Designer in this movie. Regina’s character starts off in dark colored tailored suits and coats with sharp lines evoking a non-emotional no-nonsense business woman. This look is in stark contrast to the casual bright wardrobe of the town’s residents. As Regina starts processing her teenage trauma and reasons for hating/wanting to leave the town, her wardrobe become lighter and softer with the transition coming to a close as she wears a fitted white Alexander McQueen dress during Christmas Ever Service asking for forgiveness and redemption.
Fulp did a wonderful job with costuming the Pastor’s wife, Jenna Hathaway played by Mary Lane Haskell. Ensuring that her clothes fit and complimented her figure noting to Refinery29 that it was important to represent tailored curvy girls in a fashion forward and well put together way. While this isn’t the first Dolly Parton movie that Haskell has been a part of, it the first time singing with the legend on camera. (Haskell has appeared in Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors, Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love and in the episode Down from Dover in Heartstrings.)
The cast was dressed in a lot of knits and texture that perfectly complimented a good intentioned middle America small town with a southern feel as an ode to Dolly Parton’s roots. Fulp’s expert work in the finale gave a commanding scene that evoked Christmas without over powering it. The color and costume choices gave Christmas vibes while still sprinkling in Dolly. A favorite costume would have to be Margeline, the feisty best friend of Regina and Salon owner, played by Jenifer Lewis. Her costume of geometric black and white with red pants and accents is not your typical Christmas movie attire but it truly embodies the character perfectly down the jewelry! I truly loved all of the costumes for the character, Margeline.
Another favorite was the knit cream sweater worn by Violet, played by Selah Kimbro Jones in the child bartender scene and song Life is not a Fairytale. This truly was my favorite scene. Selah Kimbro Jones and her sweet costumes were a delight to watch on the screen. This particular scene had humor, melody and then a gut wrenching reality check for the character Regina.
This movie was originally set to air last Christmas but thought to be too soon after the release of Dolly Parton’s Heartstings. The choice to delay release may be though of as kismet. The Netflix movie is as heartwarming as Dolly Parton with the message portraying exactly what everyone may need as we get closer everyday to putting a close to the 2020 year.
“Get out there and light your light!”
Dolly Parton – IG: @dollyparton
Costume Designer – Provi Fulp – IG: @provifulp
Steven Summers – Creative Director for Dolly Parton – IG: @stevenkentsummers
Christine Branski – Regina Fuller – IG: @christinebaranski_
Jennifer Lewis – Margeline -IG: @jeniferlewisforreal
Jeanine Mason – Felicity Sorenson – IG: @itsjeaninemason
Selah Kimbro Jones – Violet – IG: @selahkjones
Mary Lane Haskell – Jenna Hathaway – IG: @marylanehaskell