Photography: Shelle Neese
Photography: Shelle Neese

Photographer Shelle Neese decided to turn her C&I cover photography into wearable fashion.

When planning the inaugural Fashion as Art: The Dress Sculp­ture Exhibit & Competition, held in Albuquerque this past spring in conjunction with New Mexico Fashion Week, the show’s co­producers Meredith Lockhart and Patty Boldridge decided to join in on the fun and craft a dress of their own from unorthodox materials. But what should they use? Good friend and photographer Shelle Neese provided the answer. A frequent C&I contributor (who most recently photographed our August/September cover man Wes Studi on his ranch outside Santa Fe), Neese suggested the ladies make a dress from the magazine’s pages. It was an idea that both Lockhart and Boldridge, being longtime readers, loved. So Neese reached out to us to supply the materials.

The duo started with an underlayer of newsprint and then arranged their favorite covers from years past in a complementary blend of color. Then construction paper overlaps with nickel silver buttons were added, along with a buckskin leather collar and fringe cap-sleeves. Lockhart and Boldridge finished off their design with a belt and trophy buckle hand-decorated in vintage glass beads and gave it a name: Cowboy Cover Girl.

Although a design by the event’s coproducers wasn’t eligible for the juried competition, it was a crowd favorite. In fact, it continues to attract attention at The Wheels Museum, dedicated to preserving the historic Albuquerque Rail Yards, where it’s now on display with several other of the show’s top designs.