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Saturday, January 30, 2016


Life's a drag

Invited to host Soho House’s Route 66-themed New Year’s Eve party, Shea Couleé showed up with a look she describes as “1950s Cadillac meets the streets meets cotton-candy confection.” Channeling a Vogue fashion editorial featuring model Karlie Kloss at the graffiti-covered Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, she worked with Chicago designer Randall Hill to create the pink neoprene dress. Hill finalized the look by spraying paint on Couleé from head to toe—including the toy car sitting atop her wig. The Columbia College costume-design alum says she’s “equal parts bourgie and banjee. A ‘banjee girl’ is your neighborhood girl hanging out on the front stoop, while my bourgie side represents the fantasy of being the polished, well-taken-care-of rich woman.” Despite donning elaborate getups, she says a constant consideration is comfort: “I don’t mean physically, because sometimes you have to suffer for fashion. But your look should represent something you really want to wear and embody.” And for those willing to stand out, she says, “The bigger, the better. You want your fashion to be an experience.”

To experience firsthand Couleé’s looks, see her perform in drag shows on Wednesdays at Hydrate, the Naughty Little Cabaret on Saturdays, and Smart Bar on Sundays.

Originally featured in the Chicago Reader