Maria Pinto Interview
(Maria V. Pinto Designs Inc.)
She’s one of the
fastest rising designers in the Fashion World today.
Calling Chicago home-----we’re talking about Maria Pinto.
Maria first worked for Geoffrey Beene before leaving to start her own company,
Maria V. Pinto Designs Inc.
Maria Pinto Designs has a clientele that involves exclusive boutiques and
high-end department stores in every major metropolitan area in the United
Q – Maria, how did you get interested in
the world of Fashion Design?
A – I was always interested in fashion. Probably from the 7th or
8th grade I was making my own clothes. For me, its fashion slash art.
I’ve always studied art and I just consider fashion an extension
of art that I adore, which is sculpture. So, textiles become sculpture
on the body, because you’re dealing with three dimension.
Q – You design for women only?
A – Yes.
Q – Is it possible that you can create something
that has never been thought of before?
A – Yeah. Absolutely. Within your own interpretation of course.
There’s references, but, I think there’s enough room for
something to be truly new.
Q – Who would be some of the designers that
A – I would definitely say Geoffrey Beene. There’s different
people that have a different approach that have certainly influenced
Q – How about artists that have influenced
A – I’m very interested in the abstract expressionists. A
lot of paintings are strong references. Abstractions. A very modern approach.
Q – Were you a designer for Geoffrey Beene?
A – I worked there for a couple of years as an assistant. Not as
an assistant designer-----just as an assistant in the offices. I did
anything and everything. We might be doing a fashion show and need a
funky corset for an inspiration and I’d go downtown and look through
some of the old lingerie shops and find a corset. Or, we might need funky
color hose for the show. In the meantime, I’d be in the rooms working
with everybody and experiencing that, which is what it’s all about.
It’s definitely an extension of you education.
Q – Was it difficult to get hired at Geoffrey
A – I think it’s a very desirable place to be, yeah.
Q – Did you have to go back for a couple
A – Yeah. I think people take a liking to you and so then they
try and help get you through.
Q – And after 2 years, you left to start
your own company?
A – Yes.
Q – Did that require you to get a bank loan?
A – Yes. It’s very different for every person. What I did,
which is all I know first-hand, is that I took a small loan and started
making some samples, took them around to the stores and I was very fortunate
because stores the likes of Ultimo in Chicago which is quite an important
place to have as a client, picked me up right away. One thing led to
another and with that behind me, I went to New York and Bergdorf and
Niemans and Saks and they all picked it up. So, it’s a building
process. One thing leads to another.
Q – When you go to an exclusive boutique,
do you personally make the pitch to have them carry your designs?
A – I don’t go to show them the collection. I go there after
the fact. Typically everyone I see, I see in New York. All the buyers
come through New York, either at a show or at the showroom. They’ll
see the collection and I’ll work with them at showroom. We’ll
discuss what their store is like and how we can show it in their store.
You sell differently to someone in Charleston than maybe you would in
downtown New York, because it’s a different lifestyle and a different
sense of color. So, they’ll buy the collection and then I will
go to the store and do a trunk show or something like this. In my travels,
I always investigate new possibilities, new stores.
Q – When do all of your designs have to
be ready to show?
A – My Fall collection has to be ready by March 1st. The show is
in New York and I have to be there and have it all ready for everyone
to love and wanna buy.
Q – How do you know what’s going to
be popular with women six months before the season even starts?
A – You don’t. For me, I think it’s almost instinct.
You have to trust your instinct. Fortunately for me, I’m a woman,
so I go with what I need. I go-----what would I want? Mostly what I do
is evening or very luxurious day. So, I think-----what are my needs at
the moment? I kind of follow through that. I think it’s really
all about your instinct and gut, because, if you start looking around
too much, you’ll lose your own focus and you become everybody else.
I think you need to be aware of what’s happening in fashion, but,
you should kind of keep your distance from it, ‘cause so much comes
in subliminally, that if you’re too pre-occupied about it, you’re
no longer in your own thinking.
Q – You actually design for a wealthier clientele don’t
A –Yeah. Fortunately or unfortunately whatever the case may be,
that’s not where it starts. The reason that happens to be the case
is because first of all, I love really, really beautiful and innovative
fabrics. They tend to be very expensive and so that already limits who
the customer is going to be. We have other things that are a little more
understated, like “Mother of The Bride”, “Special Occasion”,
or just an event. We do a lot of alternative bridal for brides that are
not looking to wear a classic wedding dress. So, there’s a lot
of functions that are not necessarily being part of that whole scene
where you have a whole lifestyle when you’re living in L.A. or
New York. There’s so many events that you would certainly wear
all these glamorous things to. But, everyone even in a more capsulized
way has maybe one or two events a year, or one every two or three years;
maybe a daughter gets married or a friends having a party that’s
very special, so they’ll want something special for that. So, they
certainly find a broad range of things from me.
Q – Are you the only designer at your company?
A – Yes.
Q – How much of a problem is heroin use
in the Fashion industry, with models? Have you personally seen it?
Has it bee exaggerated?
A – I’ve never experienced it, so whether it’s exaggerated
or not, I don’t know. I’ve never, ever, ever, even come close
to it. But, I can’t say that it doesn’t exist just because
I haven’t experienced it.
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