Winnwear Designer Provide Designs for Saturday’s Miss America pageant.


In a way, Sueanne Winn has already won Saturday night’s Miss America pageant.

In fact, she’s all the runnersup — or at least on them.

Winn’s custom-swimsuit company, Winnwear Designs at 9242 S. Sheridan Road, is the national swimsuit sponsor for Miss America 2008. And you can see her suits for yourself during “Miss America Live 2008,” which is broadcast from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday on TLC, cable channel 56.

Winn has a history with pageants, she told us recently before leaving for Las Vegas, where the new Miss America will be crowned at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

She’s been designing swimsuits for 13 years, she said, but her background in fashion goes back farther than that. While a student at the University of Tulsa, she competed in pageants and, of course, wore the required swimsuits for each one she competed in.

For 10 years, she operated her own store, specializing in pageantry attire, prom and special occasions. During that time, she developed her own line of swimwear. Based on her experience, her design process was “by trial and error,” she said.

Now, she designs custommade swimsuits in high-end fabrics, which she wholesales to about
50 stores in the country, Winn said. Her suits are worn by hundreds of pageant contestants annually.

Until recent years, Miss America never had a specific swimwear sponsor, as the contestants usually brought their own suits, Winn said. Last fall, her company was chosen.

Since then, she’s worked hard at providing two suits — including an extra one as back-up — for 50-plus contestants, she said. She selected several different styles with mix and match bottoms. All are black, but most have an accent color of the contestant’s choice.

Her suits have already been on TV, specifically in the third episode of TLC’s “Miss America Reality Check,” a behindthe- scenes pageant series, she said. The back-up suits were shown during the show — you’ll have to wait for the pageant to see the real suits.

The toughest part of the design process, at least for this project, was not being able to meet each of the contestants, Winn said. Logistically speaking, it was practically impossible.

Even though all her swimsuits are customized, Winn had “100 percent success” with her suits for all contestants — including Miss Oklahoma Makenna Lee Smith from Oklahoma City. Every former Miss Oklahoma for the past 10 years has worn Winn’s swimwear, as well as some Miss USA contestants.

Winn also designs swimsuit collections for both spring and fall, she said. The European fabrics are four-way stretch — which, in case you’re ever in a pageant or on stage, are made to function fabulously under hot, glaring lights.

During Saturday’s live broadcast, Winn will debut her spring collection, she said. The theme incorporates “pop ’80s colors,” such as turquoise, lime green, yellow, peacock blue and neon pink, as well as gold and silver hardware.

The collection includes string tops and bottoms, plus fully lined, structured swimwear with push-up tops and underwire, she said. Everything is hand-detailed, no two suits are the same

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