District 211 Fashion Students Meet Famous Designer Maria Pinto, Tour Exhibit


District 211 students had the opportunity to not only see the exhibition, but to meet designer Maria Pinto and listen to her vast knowledge of the fashion career.

Students in fashion classes at Palatine, Fremd, Conant, and Schaumburg High Schools received an opportunity to meet a famous Palatine High School alumna and designer while witnessing how history influences the present.

Roughly 60 students met with famous clothing designer Maria Pinto to view the “Fashion and the Field Museum Collection: Maria Pinto” exhibition in Chicago. The trip was part of a career exploration experience at each of the schools.

“The students really enjoyed the day,” said Peggy Byrne, career adviser at Palatine High School. “Maria’s words to the students were to keep persevering and pursing their dreams.”

Pinto, who graduated from Palatine High School, has since designed clothing for high profile individuals such as Oprah Winfrey, First Lady Michelle Obama, actress Marcia Gaye Harden, and for the Joffrey Ballet.  She selected eight pieces of her work for the exhibition, and matched them with 25 different artifacts at the museum. The display showed how her work was indirectly influenced by history. For instance, she selected a top she designed that resembled sealskin shorts and crocodile shield sheaths from history.

“It really made us stop and look at fashion a different way,” Byrne said. “She selected a piece of armor that had a lot of beading on it, and she highlighted how it’s a beautiful piece. These artifacts are actually beautiful pieces of fashion and have influence in contemporary fashion. It showed our students that there are parallels.”

During the trek, students had an hour-long private presentation and Q&A session with Pinto. There, she explained how she got where she is today. She went through her successes and hardships during her career and how she helped point some of the aspiring young fashion designers in the right direction.

“It was a great experience meeting a great fashion designer like Maria Pinto,” said junior Yenifer Aguilera. “I loved learning about her life and experiences in the fashion industry. I was really inspired by her speech and her unique inspirations she gets from all sorts of books and arts. I know that if give all I can, someday I can become a great fashion designer like Maria Pinto.”

Student Megan Shahinian (left) and Maria Fracassi (right) pose with designer Maria Pinto at the Field Museum.

Students asked questions about the fashion industry, inquired about what schools are best to pursue a fashion career, and even shared some of their design sketches. After encouraging students to apply for internships, Pinto mentioned she needed an intern for her upcoming fashion line.

“You can get so many inspirations from the past and then bring them back and make them very futuristic and more modern,” said junior Hector Perez. “It inspired me to one day make it big out there in the fashion world and be a top designer.”

Pinto also walked students through the exhibition and explained some of the thought processes behind her selections.  The afternoon concluded with Pinto posing with students who wanted a picture with her. Byrne said this opportunity motivated and inspired students because they were able to see a success story right before their eyes.

“The trip to the Field Museum was very fun and it was an opportunity to see new fashion styles that can be created with any inspiration that are in the museum,” said junior Monica Murillo. “I recommend this trip to people that want to be inspired to go into the fashion field.  Maria Pinto inspired many of us in the class by sharing her life story.”

For more information about the exhibition, please visit the Field Museum’s website.