Magazine Feature

Adele's Wearing One Dress and One Dress Only in Concert: This Is Its Story (Exclusive)

Michel Porro/Getty Images

Adele performs at the Ziggo Dome on June 1, 2016 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

At a moment when it is standard, if not expected, that pop stars will change outfits half a dozen times during live performances, Adele is turning the status quo on its head. Rather than go through the gamut of wardrobe changes, the British icon’s world tour (whose U.S. leg starts July 5) has been defined by a single pair of flats and just one sparkling, Christopher Bailey-designed Burberry gown -- one that quite a lot of work went into.

Courtesy of Burberry

Stylist Gaelle Paul, a Brit based in Los Angeles who has been working with the singer for the last seven years, met with Burberry (which is also a sponsor of the tour) in September 2015. The brand readied “a mountain of sketches,” recalls the 42-year-old. “We talked about cloaks, detachable skirts, anything you could want to explore as a possibility.” But after the Adele: Live in New York City performance aired on NBC last December, where the singer wore a glittering black and gold Jenny Packham gown for the entire concert, Paul says the focus shifted to creating “one great dress that went the extra mile and that really wowed.”

Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto via Getty Images
Burberry Bloomsbury Adele wore a flowy Christopher Bailey design in November, which Paul styled with a matching scarf tucked into the belt. “It was so feminine and free-form,” says Paul, “and the booties were sick!”

The final Burberry tour look was based off a pre-fall 2016 design whose sequins “sparkled like mad,” says Paul. “It’s a flower print done in sequin, and the sequins flow in different directions. It’s an unusual fabric technique, creating the galaxy-star effect you see when you see her onstage and on film.”

Catwalking/Getty Images
The Starting PointThe singer’s tour look was inspired by a Burberry minidress. “I completely trusted them to pull off something amazing,” says Paul of the custom design.

Ten copies of the dress were made to put into rotation and readied after multiple fittings (all the way up to the day of the first show) and incorporated a few tricks of the trade. “There were to be no sequins under the arms, as we needed to prevent sequins from catching and making a sound in the microphone while she sang,” says Paul, a former fashion editor at The Guardian.

Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Dolce & Gabbana Ready to Wear fashion show as part of Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2016 on Sept. 27, 2015 in Milan, Italy. 

Other for-stage adaptations included finding the perfect length so the dress wouldn’t get soaked in the rain (part of the show), and adding a grosgrain ribbon lining along the waist that can be let in or out.

When it came to past looks, the duo often started with a roster of Adele’s favorite designers, which included Valentino, Lanvin, Chloe, The Row, Armani, Temperley and Frame. Adele wore Dolce & Gabbana for the first time in her “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)" video. It’s another example of a single-look approach, as it’s the only outfit she wears in the video. Paul was drawn to the feminine print and flow of the fabric. “I love the ’60s and ’70s references, which Adele wears beautifully.”

Courtesy of Ashley Clark
Perfect AccentJewelry onstage is simple by design: Understated Astley Clark rings and Tracy Graham of Bijoux Heart amber earrings don’t compete visually with the Burberry dress.
Courtesy of Tracy Graham

Courtesy of Tracy Graham


Paul also buys pieces for the 28-year-old singer for life out of the spotlight. “I love Net-a-Porter and,” she says, adding that she’s always aiming to keeps things interesting. “We play with different shapes, different colors -- we try to make things a little different each time.”

This article originally appeared in the July 2 issue of Billboard.