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Michelle Obama Favorite Maria Pinto Closes Business

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Maria Pinto, the relative unknown tapped by First Lady Michelle Obama to dress her frequently during the presidential campaign, is closing her business

Despite a 40 percent spike from 2008 to 2009, along with her appointment to the Council of Fashion Designers of America and a runway show during New York fashion week, Maria Pinto has decided to shut down after her wholesale business crumbled. 

The economy had pulled back many of Pinto's big buyers, causing the store's corresponding success to pale in comparison. Pinto spoke to WWD about her concerns about the state of retail at large, insisting that New York, in particular, had scaled back in a big way, and that she believes "the big chains need to change their models." She didn't seem hopeful that a turn-around would come soon. "The economy is going to be bad for a while and there are going to be a lot of changes in retail," she told WWD.

Starting Tuesday, the designer's West Loop boutique in Chicago will open for a final close-out sale, offering eveningwear and more for up to 70 percent off.

The designer remains optimistic, however, telling WWD she plans to take her strong design chops -- she's a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago -- out into the field, where she'll be traveling, painting and visiting friends. 

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