x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Michelle Obama's designer has her sights on the UAE

The Chicago designer whose purple dress made Michelle Obama a budding style icon plans to expand her boutique internationally, and she has the UAE in mind.

Michelle Obama arrives with her husband, the Democratic presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, for a rally in St Paul, Minnesota.   (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, FILE)
Michelle Obama arrives with her husband, the Democratic presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, for a rally in St Paul, Minnesota. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, FILE)

ABU DHABI // The Chicago designer whose simple purple dress made Michelle Obama a budding style icon plans to expand her boutique internationally, and she has the UAE in mind. Having dressed such luminaries as Mrs Obama and the American TV host, Oprah Winfrey, for years, Maria Pinto said she wants to take her collection to Dubai and perhaps the capital. "Customers in Dubai have a heightened appreciation of luxury goods," Ms Pinto said. "There is a clientele in the UAE that appreciates the quality and luxury of our brand." Ms Pinto, who recently returned to the US after visiting Paris to research fabrics for her fall 2009 collection, is convinced there is also a market for her designs in Abu Dhabi. "Absolutely," she said. "I definitely believe that there is a strong interest in our brand there." Ms Pinto has created several other looks for Mrs Obama, in addition to the much-discussed purple shift she wore when her husband claimed the Democratic nomination in June. Mrs Obama's polished look and wardrobe earned her spots on the People and Vanity Fair top 10 "best dressed" lists, and more than a decade after she went into the business, Ms Pinto became the new designer of choice. "It's certainly reached a positive tipping point," she said. "This has been a culmination of the past 16 years of hard work put into my brand. The attention from dressing the likes of Oprah and Michelle Obama has certainly contributed to all this, along with the opening of our new Chicago boutique." The shop in the chic West Loop area of Chicago opened in August. Ms Pinto said Mrs Obama was introduced to her by another client, "several years ago, before her husband was a senator". "It has been an honour and a privilege to count Mrs Obama as one of our loyal clients," she said. Describing her designs as "sophisticated elegance with a modern edge", Ms Pinto said her collection "attracts someone who is confident, comfortable with making their own unique statement". Ms Pinto also said she hopes to visit the UAE before long. "It is on the top of my list of places to see." mkwong@thenational.ae