Mrs-O.com is a blog dedicated to chronicling the fashion and style of First Lady Michelle Obama. Founded September 2008. 


Entries in Maria Pinto (29)


Maria Pinto M2057

For those who have missed Maria Pinto, the Chicago-based designer, once a mainstay in Mrs. O's wardrobe, she is back! Pinto recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund her new line M2057, described as "beautiful, versatile, affordable womenswear inspired by urban architecture and design." Many will recall that Pinto closed her Chicago business in February 2010, covered here. You can learn more about the Kickstarter campaign here.


Return of the Classic Sheath

Photos by Charles Dharapak / AP Images

For the president's speech on jobs to a joint session of Congress last evening, Mrs. O returned to a classic: the magenta Maria Pinto sheath dress last worn on the night in 2008 when her husband secured the Democratic nomination for president. A House of Lavande vintage jeweled belt and upswept hairstyle updated the look. 

Those who have been following Mrs. O's style for some time of course know the name Maria Pinto well. The recession forced the designer to close her business in 2010. Since then, Pinto has assumed the role of Creative Director for Mark Shale in Chicago. 


Dressed to Honor

Image by Mandel Ngan / Getty Images

The president and first lady attended a Medal of Honor presentation ceremony in the East Room of the White House earlier today. The ceremony honored Staff Sergeant Robert Miller, who was was killed in Afghanistan in January 2008. To read more about the honor, click here.

For the appearance, Mrs. O returned to one of her classics -- a tomato red Maria Pinto sheath dress with inverted pleats at the neckline. A diamond floral brooch adorned the neckline.


Maria Pinto to Close Business

Maria Pinto's boutique

Image by swanksalot / Creative Commons

A significant influence in the first lady's style has come to an abrupt end. It was announced today that designer Maria Pinto is closing her business, including her West Loop Chicago boutique, and early next week, is expected to file for bankruptcy.

The designer told the Chicago Sun Times in an exclusive interview published Sunday:

''After 20 years of pursuing my greatest passion and striving to build a successful high-end fashion business, the time has come for a new chapter in my life.''

Pinto cited ''increasing economic challenges and soft buying trends at the top end of the apparel market'' among the reasons for the downfall of her business, which includes the shuttering of her design and wholesale operations and the retail store on South Jefferson.

''I am confident that the 'Maria Pinto' name will not go away, but will merely take a break, before emerging in a new form. I plan on using the next several months to explore different avenues and opportunities for business, as economic conditions improve," Pinto said.

It is a sad day for Maria Pinto, and certainly, for fans of the first lady's style. It was Mrs. O's penchant for Maria Pinto sheath dresses, created in bold jewel tones and always with a flawless fit, that first drew the future first lady a loyal fashion following. When Mrs. O was named to Vanity Fair's International Best Dressed List in 2007 and 2008, Maria Pinto was named as a favorite designer on both occasions.

Mrs. O's purple Maria Pinto sheath dress, worn with a studded Alaia belt as Barack Obama secured the democratic primary in 2008, is practically an icon in itself. Three words - "purple sheath dress" - bring the exact dress to mind in an instant. The same can be said of the turquoise, three-quarter sleeve dress Mrs. O wore to open the DNC, and, of course, the red dress with sunray pleats at the neckline that Mrs. O wore for her first post-election visit to the White House. Though the first lady has diversified her repertoire of designers in the past 18 months, Maria Pinto is, and will continue to be, very much at the heart of Mrs. O's emerging style legacy.

Just over two months ago, I had the opportunity to interview Maria Pinto at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum in New York for a "Inside the Designer's Studio" event. The full interview is posted on YouTube here. At the time, there were no apparent signs of trouble, as Maria Pinto spoke of early plans for her Fall 2010 collection and hinted at the possibility of future retail locations.

From a business standpoint, we did talk about the period around 2001, when she decided to close her business following "embezzlement by a bookkeeper and 9/11." When I asked what she did differently upon reopening in 2003, Maria replied (18:00 on video): "the biggest difference was surrounding myself by people who were really brilliant in areas where I wasn't: business planning, accounting, etc. ... When I relaunched, that was a big part of it, and still is."

Update: Women's Wear Daily has a thorough piece on Maria Pinto's closing, here. Though they don't have further detail on what specifically led to the closing, there's good perspective from several industry insiders...and as we feel, a general sense of shock throughout the piece.

"The news came as a surprise to many, given that Pinto’s star appeared to still be rising. Just last year, Pinto was inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America, showed her Spring 2010 collection during New York Fashion Week and joined the likes of Anna Sui and Nicole Miller as the recipient of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Legend of Fashion award."


Marking Veterans Day

Image by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

In honor of Veterans Day, First Lady Mrs. O has joined the Bidens and President O for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Mrs. O is wearing a blue tweed overcoat from J.Crew, last seen in January 2009, belted at the waist for this occasion. We are intrigued by the dress underneath. Might it be the teal Maria Pinto dress worn for the DNC in August 2008?


Image via PRNewsFoto/THE HISTORY CHANNEL, Pete Souza

Also today, President O and First Lady Mrs. O posed with veterans taking part in the History Channel's "Take a Veteran to School Day." Sans coat, we can see that Mrs. O was in fact wearing her teal Maria Pinto frock from the 2008 DNC.