Not-yet First Lady Michelle Obama was wearing one of Chicago fashion designer Maria Pinto’s stealth dresses when she and her husband were on the campaign trail in 2008 and exchanged “the fist bump heard ‘round the world.’” (Later that year, Mrs. Obama wore a teal Pinto at the Democratic National Convention.) But in 2010 Pinto was forced to close her chic boutique in the windy city due to “the poor economic climate.” It wasn’t the first time: Pinto had to close shop in 2002 after a former long-term employee embezzled from her, which put her out of business for three years.
Ever the fighter (born that way on Chicago’s South Side, the youngest of seven children), Pinto is making yet another comeback in C-town–and again aligning herself with history. After snooping around the basement of the nearby Field Museum of Natural History, she’s dug up 25 antiquities (garments and adornments) to exhibit with seven of her designs, proving that some design really is timeless. Imagine a pair of samurai armored gloves worn with a symmetrical wool business suit. Or a little black taffeta dress standing next to an Inuit raincoat made of animal intestines. Pinto’s designs aren’t new, in fact they’re all from her 2008-2010 days, but relatively speaking they’re fresh as can be! The idea is to help the Museum shed its “dinosaur and mummies” image. Major sponsor for the exhibition, called Fashion and The Field Museum Collection: Maria Pinto, is the Sara Lee Foundation, which was awarded the prestigious National Medal of Arts by the last democratic president, Bill Clinton, who knows about dresses. http://mariapinto.