Maria Pinto-first lady’s clothing maker
USINFO | 2013-05-23 14:47

Maria Pinto (born c. 1957) is an American fashion designer from Chicago, Illinois. She has designed clothing for Oprah Winfrey, the Joffrey Ballet, Marcia Gay Harden, and Michelle Obama.Maria Pinto was born in Chicago's South Side, near Chinatown. She is the youngest of seven children and the daughter of a caterer and a sanitation worker. When Pinto was 10, she started reading a neighbor's copy of Women's Wear Daily.Three years later, she started sewing her own clothes. She attended Palatine High School,where she sold clothes to her friends,and eventually made her own prom dress from a Halston pattern. Pinto started design school when she was 30; before then she worked in her family's Italian restaurant.She graduated from the School of the Art Institute in Chicagowith a fine art major, focusing in fashion.She also attended Parson's School of Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology. After graduating, Pinto went to New York, where she studied with Geoffrey Beene.

She started her first business in 1991, and her collection was bought by, among others, Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Takashimaya, and Bergdorf Goodman.She closed her shop in January 2002 because of embezzlement and health issues,but reopened three years later. Oprah Winfrey wore one of Pinto's skirts in 2007 for the premiere of The Great Debaters.Maria Pinto designed costumes for two Joffrey Ballet ballets, the pas de deux Ruth, Ricordi Per Due in 2002and Age of Innocence in 2008.The same year, she opened a boutique in Chicago's West Loop.She attended the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Oscar preview fashion show in February 2009.Actress Marcia Gay Harden wore a Pinto dress to The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler premiere six months later.In early 2010, she announced that she would close her Chicago boutique.In "Fashion and the Field Museum Collection: Maria Pinto", an exhibit at the Field Museum that opened on September 14, 2012, Pinto matched eight of her designs with twenty-five of the museum's artifacts.

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