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Instant Cover Girl

No actual models were used to make this fashion issue.

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No actual models were used to make this fashion issue of New York you have in your hands. Well, one former model: Brooke Shields, now a 39-year-old actress and mom. The rest of the mannequins are hardly that: two Bard College students, the odd society wife, a construction worker, identical twins who started their own Website, several fashionable working moms, and Vanessa Beecroft, an artist who makes large, militaristic photographs of other women in bikinis and high heels (herein pictured at home with her children in the country). Still, by the Thursday before the magazine was to go to press, after sifting through piles of Polaroids of the usual beautifuls—waitresses, budding actresses, magazine assistants—our scouts had stopped on the street, we still hadn’t found the perfect nonprofessional beauty to put on our cover. Finally, through a classic instance of New York networking—letting people know what we were looking for—a friend introduced Shanel Dunnaway, a 29-year-old who works in commercial real estate, to photographer Randall Mesdon. Dunnaway had been in New York for exactly a week. Even the name—Shanel—seemed apt: It was the idea of her grandmother, who loved Chanel, and her mother decided to tweak it a bit. “My grandmother, to this day, still spells my name with a C,” says Dunnaway. “She cannot spell it the wrong way. It just makes her insane.” Dunnaway has never been a model. She wasn’t even on her high-school homecoming court. She hasn’t told her mom or grandmother about being chosen to be on the cover of New York. “I wanted to get a copy of the magazine first,” she says. “I said, ‘Mom, I did something there. I can’t tell you what it is. I want it to be a surprise.’ She’s just so excited, she’s going to kill me. It’s going to be worth the surprise.”


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