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The Reach

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A Passion for Fashion

A Passion for Fashion

Behind every well-dressed influential woman, you’ll find a fashion designer. For style icons like Michelle Obama, Brooke Shields, and Oprah Winfrey, that designer is Maria Pinto.

Maria will join us at Loyola University in Chicago June 5-10 for Honors Institute 2017. She will speak during the third general session on Tuesday, June 6, and give us a glimpse into how the fashion industry world works.

Registration for Honors Institute is open now through May 12. Reserve your spot.

Maria’s presentation is sponsored by Dr. Joan Fedor, a longtime chapter advisor at Highline Community College in Des Moines, Washington. She is a former Regional Coordinator and a current member of the Honors Program Council.

Fedor and her late husband, Robert, were among the first to endow Honors Institute lectures. She was named an International Honorary Member at Phi Theta Kappa’s 2008 International Convention.

Maria is a native Chicagoan who, after working for Geoffrey Beene in New York, broke into the fashion industry on her own in 1991 with a line of scarves. Seemingly overnight her pieces were a sensation and were being sold a major department stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Barney’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Eveningwear followed, and soon Chicago’s elite were knocking down her door. She added suits, dresses and jackets to her collection in 2004, using luxurious fabrics like alpaca, leather and wool.

Maria built a reputation for producing beautiful fashion with a contemporary design and lasting craftsmanship. Throughout her career, she has designed for the modern woman—her clothing is versatile, and it makes the wearer feel elegant and confident.

As the recession hit, Maria took a break from designing in 2010 and joined Mark Shale, a multi-store retailer, as Creative Director. As she sourced collections from around the world, she discovered two things: there was a void in the market for high-quality garments in an accessible price range, and she missed being a designer.

These discoveries led to the launch of M2057 in 2013, a ready-to-wear capsule collection of modern dresses, jackets, and wraps. Maria described the M2057 customer in a 2016 interview with Forbes:

“Fierce, intelligent, and she does not want to sacrifice being feminine to succeed in what was one, and perhaps still is a little, a man’s world. She is looking for effortless fashion that helps her look impeccable and feel beautiful for whatever life throws her way.”

M2057 was launched on Kickstarter, raising more than $270,000. The achievement led to Maria being one of the first recognized designers to run a successful fashion Kickstarter project and launch a collection on the crowdfunding website.

Maria has also designed fashions for the Joffrey Ballet, The James Hotel in Chicago, and the Skylark Bar in New York. Her work has been featured at Chicago’s Field Museum and is now part of a permanent collection there. She also received the “Legend of Fashion” award from the School of the Art Institute, her alma mater.



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