Most designers hope against hope that one day their designs will appear on a red carpet and launch their brand into the stratosphere. Well, it seems as though the killer combination of a purple dress, fist bump, and a political stage that announces the Democratic nominee does the job just as well. Maria Pinto (135 N. Jefferson St.; 312-648-1380), a beautiful new boutique in the West Loop, is the retail home of the designer behind Michelle Obama’s purple dress. Pinto is hardly a secret to Chicago’s socialite set, for whom she has been designing since 1991; but with a little help from Obama (who, when profiled as one of Vanity Fair’s best dressed women of 2007, named Pinto as her favorite designer) and Oprah Winfrey (who wore a stunning, long leather skirt by Pinto to the premiere of The Great Debaters), she has come to the attention of the rest of the nation. In August, she moved from her atelier in the North Elston corridor to the new retail space, where you can see her entire line of tailored cuts in textural fabrics. On the casual side, look for pieces like wide-leg trousers, dresses with pockets, and a gorgeous brown leather skirt with a laser-cut floral pattern. The evening wear is comprised of classics that integrate surprise details, such as a demure black dress with an open back covered in intricate lace ($2,100); a tank dress with leather edging ($1,455); and a gorgeous, sequined, flapper-style halter dress. The fall collection of her signature wraps includes a black pleated scarf ($780) that works both with trousers or gowns. An unexpected surprise was the forgiving, soft lighting in the dressing room, much gentler than the hospital-style lighting used elsewhere. With election day two weeks away, only time will tell whether Pinto will become for Michelle Obama what Oleg Cassini was for Jacqueline Kennedy. Yet another reason to wait with baited breath for November 4th.
Top Sales This Week
Macy’s (111 N. State St.; 312-781-1000; plus all area locations) celebrates its 150 year anniversary on Oct. 25th at most stores (excluding its furniture stores), and the first 150 customers will receive a complimentary $15 gift card, valid on that day only, as well as celebrations with performances, treats, and other festivities. The State Street location holds a Chicago-based Designers Trunk Show on Oct. 24th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Oct. 25th at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with goods from 30 local designers including apparel, accessories, handbags and jewelry.
The High Gloss Sample Sale returns Oct. 24th starting at 4 p.m., and running Oct. 25th from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Oct. 26th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1520 North Milwaukee Avenue, with up to 80 percent off apparel from more than 40 designers. Credit and cash only; dressing rooms are limited so be prepared to try-on clothes in public.
The Best of the Rest
- Koros (1039 W. Lake St.; 312-738-0155) has re-opened in its new space, just down the street from its former location.
- The annual trunk show for the Jenny Yoo Collection runs Oct. 23rd through 25th, featuring the designer’s 2009 line of bridesmaid dresses, available for pre-order at 10 percent off. Available by appointment only – e-mail Chicago@jennyyoo.com or call 312-642-2327 to schedule. (Lead time for orders is 16 weeks.)
- Bess & Loie (1015 W. Lake St.; 312-226-2247) hosts a trunk show featuring the entire fall line of Hayden-Harnett, including handbags and newly introduced clothing and shoes, on Oct. 21st from 5 to 8 p.m. Spend $100 or more to be entered to win a handbag.
- Trick-or-treat with the kiddies in Lincoln Park’s shopping district on Oct. 26th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., when costumed tots can work their way down the street. (Participating stores are along Armitage Avenue from Racine to Halsted streets; Halsted Street from Armitage to Webster avenues; and Webster Avenue at Racine Street.)
- Samantha (64 E. Walton St.; 312-951-5383) holds a Karen Zambos trunk show on Oct. 24th and 25th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Project Runway season 4 contestant (and local boy) Steven Rosengard emcees a fall fashion fundraiser at Lumen (839 W. Fulton Mkt.; 312-733-2222) on Oct. 23rd from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Designers from the Chicago Fashion Incubator will show pieces and also have items for sale or take orders at the event. Tickets are $30; RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Proceeds benefit the local branch of Dress for Success.
- The final weekend of the Randolph Street Market Festival will focus on political memorabilia, including campaign buttons, posters, bumper stickers, and flags, on Oct. 25th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Oct. 26th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1350 West Randolph Street (the fair runs between Ada and Ogden; 312-666-1200). Tickets are $10 for the weekend.
- Starfruit (1745 W. Division St.; 773-328-2900) holds a customer appreciation party on Oct. 22nd from 6 to 8 p.m., offering free fall toppings on kefir treats, as well as a raffle for a chance to win a six-month membership to Wicker Park Fitness, among other prizes.
- Open Books, Chicago’s nonprofit literacy organization, has partnered with Better World Books to collect as many used books as possible in one day. The drive-through drop-off is at 213 West Institute Place on Oct. 26th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or sign-up for a home pick-up at open-books.org/gabd.
- The 5th annual Halloween Pet Parade and Party hosted by Tails in the City (1 E. Delaware Pl.; 312-649-0347) happens on Oct. 26th from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; registration begins at 10 a.m. The costumed pet parade will start at the boutique and head to Washington Square Park for costume judging, goodie bags, and refreshments. All proceeds benefit PAWS Chicago; $5 for dog registration fee at tailsinthecity.com.
- The Red Dog House (2031 N. Damen Ave.; 773-227-7341) holds a pet portrait day for holiday cards on Oct. 22nd from 4 to 8 p.m. with pet photographer Rhonda Holcomb. The mini sessions are 25 minutes, receive two 5-by-7-inch prints for $85. Pre-register by calling the store.
- The Lake View location of His Stuff (3162 N. Broadway St.; 773-281-6111) holds a Victorinox/Swiss Army sample sale, offering three seasons of the collection from outerwear to swimwear all for below wholesale prices, on Oct. 25th and 26th.