OFFSTAGE: Reba McEntire’s Stage Dresses Are Rigged for Breakaways

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

I have always wanted to know how performers like Reba McEntire can not only change their outfits a million times during a show but do it so fast, your head is spinning. In an interview with Nashville’s daily newspaper, The Tennessean, designer Sandi Spika Borchetta talked about McEntire’s new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and admitted the quick-change skill was something she had to learn on the job. She worked with the singer as a designer, stylist and more from 1987 through 2011. And when McEntire wanted to be able to change her wardrobe a staggering 15 times a show, Borchetta had to teach herself how to sew dresses that could be easily ripped off. “If you’re making things for quick changes, you might have a pretty little dress on underneath another costume, and people never know that. We just developed and learned it, and the infrastructure has to be rigged in a way that if a dancer is pulling and tugging on it that, it has points that it pulls apart and does what it needs to do. We taught ourselves how to do that, costume by costume, how to make it better, quicker, faster and stronger.” Borchetta added that when McEntire would change costumes in a split second, “Every night, it was special … to hear the gasps from people.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.