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A Model Employee: 95-Year-Old Woman Finds Life-Sized Sculpture of Herself

A former New York City seamstress and her family tracked down a life-sized tribute to her commissioned by her boss, who wasn’t even her dad, so you know she was good.

By Katie Compa · May 20, 2024

Maria Pulsone, looking less than impressed that her statue was found. Pix 11 News/YouTube

Disclaimer: While this article is sculpted out of high-quality facts, it does contain some shards of satire.

Paris can keep its Venus de Milo statue—New York just gained back its own icon made of marble (okay, fine, plaster): master seamstress Maria Pulsone. 

You probably haven’t heard of her because she’s not a sewing influencer—she’s an actual skilled craftsperson, and she’s 95 years old. She was so good in her day that her boss ordered a statue be made of her to display in the company’s store for customers and employees to see each day. Personally, we cannot imagine being that good at anything. Our employers have yet to immortalize us as statues to commemorate, say, our PowerPoint skills or conference call notes (both of which are that good). 

Employee of the month? You think too small.  TORLEY/Flickr

The statue was commissioned and cast in 1984 by Maria’s employer, the tailoring house Saint Laurie, both to promote the business (subsequently rebranded to Kozinn + Sons) and to recognize her skill as a master seamstress in New York City’s garment district (now rebranded as the “Fashion District”). Maria had to pose for the plaster cast and, in addition to her usual responsibilities, hold perfectly still while breathing through two straws up her nose. 

Hello... is it me you're looking for?  Laurel L. Russwurm/Flickr

The statue was lost when Saint Laurie moved from its Flatiron store up to Park Avenue and 51st Street, near the Waldorf-Astoria hotel (which might sound like a logical move given the… vibes of the neighborhood, which are decidedly off unless you love going blocks without finding a convenience store), but in fact the company almost went bust until they were tapped by a costume designer to outfit the cast of the hit Broadway show Jersey Boys. The company survived two World Wars and the rise of fast fashion since it was established in 1913, so we’ll keep betting on them to… oh, after their rebrand, they were acquired in 2018 by a newer label? Ah, well. Nevertheless…

The now-nonagenarian, who immigrated to Rochester before New York City and now lives in Queens, and her granddaughter, Jennifer, recently searched for and found the sculpture created of Maria at an antique warehouse in Pennsylvania. They called and were able to snag it for a great price when the seller found out who was calling. 

Maria Pulsone's statue joins the New York garment district seamster in representing exceptional sartorial talent.  Mike G/Flickr

Soon, thanks to Jennifer’s very logical question immediately upon securing the statue (“Where are we supposed to keep this thing?” and girl, same), Maria’s likeness will go on display at New York’s Italian American Museum in (duh) Little Italy when it reopens from its five-year renovation later this summer. Maria herself deemed the statue “all right.” Absent in perpetuity from the museum’s collection are any mention of MTV’s Jersey Shore and The Olive Garden, both of which have served, since their respective beginnings, mainly as a source of embarrassment and disgust to many Italian-Americans across the country.

We concede they may be onto something with the unlimited breadsticks.  Like_The_Grand_Canyon/Flickr