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+ REBELS ittsburgh, Pennsylvania has long been Pstronghold, known for its history as an industrial and is not often the first location

to come to mind when one thinks of legendary fashion. It is in this unexpected place that two dreamers first created Emphatics. Emphatics was the dream vision of James and Karin Legato. Independent thinkers and fashion rebels, they founded a lifestyle boutique in Pittsburgh that nurtured some of the most creative talents of their times. In 1963, following the family business, James founded Legato Hair Fashions. Then, in 1969, to complete his vision, he began to carry make-up and clothing and renamed the store Emphatics, a word that evoked his dynamic point of view. That year, Karin, a senior in college, bought a dress from James and from then on they were inseparable until his death in 2015. Together they created a successful fashion business with a devoted clientele built on the belief that fashion was an important form of art and expression of freedom. Discover those early beginnings of the boutique with an uncommon name in the upcoming exhibition Emphatics: AvantGarde Fashions 1963-2013, on view in the Museum’s Steele Gallery through January 16. Painstakingly researched and imagined by Dennita Sewell, the Jacquie Dorrance Curator of Fashion Design, working closely alongside

Emphatics: Avant-Garde Fashion 1963-2013 Through January 16, 2017 Steele Gallery

Karin Legato, Emphatics brings to life the Legatos’ unique, storied world. Along with the history of Emphatics, the exhibition examines how the boutique’s creation coincided with a new dawn of radicalism in fashion. In the 1960s, the rise of designer ready-to-wear began to overtake haute couture as leading fashion styles. By the late 1970s, a swell of new creative talents like Kenzo, Issey Miyake, Jean Paul Gaultier, Claude Montana and Thierry Mugler emerged as fashion stars who revolutionized the fashion industry into the system we know today. From the beginnings of their careers, the Legatos mentored these designers and supported their successes through their store. Only a few stores in the country have been able to champion the avant-garde and bring it to their clientele on the level of Emphatics. Although the Legatos purchased the clothes to sell, sometimes they admired a design so much they held on to it. So, one piece at a time, over the 50-year span of the store, they created a complete capsule of one of the most creative eras in contemporary fashion. Now that incredible collection is on view for the first time in any museum. Emphatics: Avant-Garde Fashion 1963-2013 was organized by Phoenix Art Museum. It is made possible through the generosity of Arizona Costume Institute, with support from the Ellman Foundation. Additional support is provided by Jane Jozoff.


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Phoenix Art Museum Magazine  

November 2016 - February 2017

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