Designer Favored By Michelle Obama Closes Shop

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From the NY Times:

CHICAGO — Fashion and politics are seasonal and unpredictable, yet the two came together quite well here for the hometown designer Maria Pinto and Michelle Obama, whose first memorable bursts onto the national scene were often in Pinto creations.

Remember the purple sheath Mrs. Obama wore the night of the fist bump heard round the world? The teal number at the Democratic National Convention? Or the red dress she wore to meet the Bushes on their way out of the White House? Maria Pinto all, designed right here where both women were born and raised and, over the course of one remarkable election, became stars.

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So when Ms. Pinto abruptly put up a “closeout sale” sign in the window of her West Loop boutique and announced that she was folding her fashion business, Chicago — and Pinto devotees all over — reacted with disbelief: What in sartorial heaven happened? “I pushed as far as I could,” Ms. Pinto, 53, said in her first lengthy interview since the demise of her store and wholesale operations in mid-February.

Just back from a month’s break in Barcelona, she pointed to the strain that a sour economy had placed on her business just as it was expanding and gaining major traction beyond a loyal Chicago following.

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