The Michelle Obama Effect has given many designers like Thakoon, Maria Cornejo and even Narciso Rodriguez a noticeable lift in sales and visibility -and in some cases, like that of Jason Wu, created an extraordinary boost- but unfortunately, it has not been enough to keep one of the First Lady's favorites, Maria Pinto, in business. Pinto announced this week that she would be closing her Chicago boutique, wholesale business and design studios for the time being. Even though she had a well received presentation at last September's Fashion Week, the core fashion press never quite took to her classically styled dresses in the same way that they began celebrating the younger designers like Thakoon and Wu. Still, Pinto, identified as a favorite of Mrs. Obama when she was still the wife of the Democratic nominee, continued to make her signature jewel toned sheath dresses for the First Lady, who wore them regularly.
It's possible that working from Chicago made it harder for the designer to build relationships with New York based retailers and press, but WWD speculates that part of the problem may be the shrinking number of independent specialty boutiques that would make up Pinto's natural client base, and the difficulty that many of those who remain may be having paying their bills on time.
Maria Pinto Shutters Businesses (WWD)