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The 1998 Christmas shopping season was just kicking in. A new designer had hit the scene, and she had scored some prime retail real estate in Bloomingdale's display windows the day after Thanksgiving. Shoshanna Lonstein, a native New Yorker, was determined to design for the vastly underrepresented busty woman. The store sold 200 units in two days -- a happy beginning for the successful Shoshanna label.
As much as the designer may be sick of hearing about it, her story in the limelight begins before her fashion design career. When she was one week short of 18, she met comedian Jerry Seinfeld during a walk in Central Park. She moved to Los Angeles to be with him. During their five-year relationship, the paparazzi paid ample attention to her curvy assets. The moniker "Shapely Shoshanna" may have grown tiresome, but it was her bombshell figure that helped her devise a winning design and marketing strategy.
Nowhere to Hide
A big-breasted woman in search of a fashionable and flattering outfit often runs into a brick wall. Many designers attempt to hide, constrict or compress women's assets. Shoshanna Lonstein, who, as of 2011, operates her business under her married name of Shoshanna Gruss, knew those large cup sizes held great potential. She sent those androgynous styles back to the sewing room, demanding well-tailored clothing that shaped and supported a fabulous physique. The Shoshanna brand does not shy away from celebrating the feminine form. Lingerie-inspired sportswear and swimwear channel sexy sirens like Marilyn Monroe and the voluptuous Christina Hendricks from the television series "Mad Men."
Forget those tenets like "black is slimming" and "small prints will minimize." The Shoshanna brand has never kept a low profile with its color and print choices. In fact, Gruss paired up with social scenester and retro revamper Charlotte Ronson for the Made with Love swimwear collection, printing cover-ups, swimsuits, towels and other beachwear with mod patterns, splashy colors and Bohemian designs.
Life in the Limelight
Gruss does not duck the limelight. In addition to her design work, she has shown up on reality television programs. She was a mentor during an episode of cycle 10 of "America's Top Model." She spoke with the contestants and watched them walk the runway before dishing on their personality, runway walk and presentation.