9 Unbelievably Cool Things to Know About Carrie Underwood's 'Storyteller' Tour Costumes
Carrie Underwood is hitting the road this season for The Storyteller Tour: Stories in the Round, playing arenas all around the country through the end of July. It’s a big tour that calls for big stage looks, and for that, she called upon Marina Toybina (inset below). The Emmy award-winning costume designer is a pro when it comes to making statements on stage, having already worked with Underwood on her 2012 Blown Away Tour, Taylor Swift’s Red Tour, as well as Katy Perry’s Prismatic Tour, and the XLIX Super Bowl Halftime Show (yes, she was the one behind the infamous Left Shark costume!).
So what did she draw up this go around?
Courtesy Jeff Johnson; Courtesy Marina Toybina
“This time we went for a fun, edgy approach to reflect her musical mix of ballads, rock and roll and country rock,” Toybina told PeopleStyle when we caught up with her to talk all things Carrie. “It came down to pushing the boundary and going a little bit avant-garde. When Carrie feels the best she can, she shines onstage, and in these costumes, she radiates.” For each look to accurately reflect Underwood’s music and vibe, she really had to drill down on the details. Very cool details, may we add. Scroll down to find out the nine things Toybina revealed about her designs.
1. The white dress is meant to blow you away—that’s why there’s over 50,000 crystals on it.
“This was my baby,” Toybina said of this dazzling Little White Dress she designed herself, which features 50,000 opal, pearl and bright white crystals, all of which Toybina applied by hand over the course of a week and a half. Together, they create a 360-degree 3D illusion on stage. “It’s an incredible piece, and the beauty of it is its mix of simplicity and complexity. When the light hits her, she almost looks like a disco ball. It reminds me of the Elvis days.”
2. She designed each look to prevent any wardrobe malfunctions.
“Every piece is addressed for those issues during multiple fittings,” said Toybina. “For this tour particularly we went through each piece more than five times seeing what can work and what can’t. Since she travels the stage so much , the comfort level is the most important thing, especially making sure she never feels restricted, never feels uncomfortable or not in her own skin.”
3. The chains on this golden dress were all applied by hand.
Toybina applied 2,000 chain-and-bead embellishments to this gilded cap-sleeve mini by Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla and applied each strand by hand. This gives the dress movement when she wears it on stage paired with customized Lust for Life knee-high boots. “It took three days to put together,” she said. “But the beautiful thing about that particular look it was already beautifully hand beaded.”
Courtesy Marina Toybina/Jarett Fajardo (2)
4. What you see is not always what you get.
“We made over 25 costumes!” said Toybina. “Before each performance, she goes through what we call ‘the Wardrobe Bible’ and then decides which mix of outfits to wear. By having the chance to look at a book and see what she wants to wear each evening just makes it that much more inviting and exciting for her. It keeps the show diverse for her fans.”
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5. Cutting up dresses is part of the job.
Toybina customized this gray frayed-hem gown with industrial elements like “spiked beading that resembles chain-mail armor” to play up the show’s rock section. “For the act this is in, it’s a little more rock ‘n’ roll, so we tried to combine a cross between something that’s light and flowy and elegant but give it a little bit of that kick where you visually see that there is a harshness and strength to the costume,” she said.
Courtesy Jeff Johnson (2); Courtesy Marina Toybina
6. Carrie doesn’t do it alone.
“There are two people on the road at all times who assist Carrie during fast wardrobe turnarounds. One’s a well-trained costumer, the other’s her assistant.”
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7. She added a personal touch.
The blue-and-gold dress—which she completes with a pair of Old Gringo boots—incorporates a gold “Carrie” nameplate into the neckline. “It’s a way to make this design even more personal,” said Toybina. A similar gold nameplate with the word “storyteller” is available for $20 at merchandise booths on tour, as well as on her site.
Courtesy Jeff Johnson; Courtesy Marina Toybina
8. Many of the shoes have some bedazzling on them.
Take a closer look at Underwood’s feet: Toybina customized many of the shoes with crystals so she shined top to bottom. “To have that finish touch on each costume makes each look that much stronger on stage,” she said. “The fans go crazy go for the littlest detail so its very cool to see. I actually put on up to 5,000 crystals per shoe!”
Courtesy Jeff Johnson; Courtesy Marina Toybina/Jarett Fajardo (2)
9. The encore look is designed to finish the show with edge and fantasy.
When Underwood wants to go out with a bang, she puts on this black design by Gemy Maalouf. “We wanted to come up with something that still had edge and fantasy, so we re-worked this design to show the leg,” she said. “We also removed a few layers and added more detailing. We built faux leather pieces on top of the lace just to create that balance between soft and hard. When she feels like a million bucks, I can just tell. And I saw her excitement in all of the fittings.”
–Sharon Clott Kanter