‘Emphatics: Avant Garde Fashion’ exhibition engages, enchants

date:04.12.2016 by:YDLFN News,

‘Emphatics: Avant Garde Fashion’ exhibition engages, enchants

date: 04.12.2016 by: Diana Arhir via www.nevalleynews.org, image credits with courtesy of the wwwnevalleynews.org




The Phoenix Art Museum continuously awes audiences with new exciting exhibitions. Their Fashion Design Collection is one of the best in the country. Last year, they brought from Italy the breathtaking and dramatic “The White Shirt According to Me. Gianfranco Ferré” show. It set a new standard for the museum, and on Nov. 6, Dennita Sewell, The Jacquie Dorrance Curator of Fashion Design for the museum, gave us an equally awe-inspiring experience with a newly acquired collection.

Bold, striking and dramatic aptly describes the new exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum. This comprehensive collection, called “Emphatics: Avant Garde Fashion 1963-2013,” contains over 400 items including clothes, shoes, accessories and ephemera. It was purchased in January by the fashion design department at the museum and will be on display in the Steele Gallery in the Phoenix Art Museum through Jan. 16.

As the youth began dominating fashion, music and art during the ‘60s, fashion became less conventional and more colorful and creative.  Gone were the days of strict fashion rules that were slavishly followed by the public. During the last decades of the century, the fashion industry handed its reins over to new artistic designers that believed in breaking rules and tradition. A new silhouette emerged in the ‘80s when creativity was in full bloom. The geometrical influence of the large shoulder pads and small waist showed a bolder and stronger woman. You realize how art and creativity drove their visions as you view the 100 amazing ensembles on display. You clearly see how the French designers led the way: high fashion street wear of Jean Paul Gaultier, the sci-fi inspired dramatic outfits of Thierry Mugler, the aggressive androgynous chic of Claude Montana, the bewitching body hugging clothes of Azzedine Alaia and the flirty feminine dresses of Christian Lacroix. You also witness the innovation in fabric making when you see Issey Miyake’s new techniques for pleating and creating knits without a seam. The influence of their ingenious visions is also seen in the works of the new designers of the ‘90s: Britain’s Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Stella McCartney and Olivier Theyskens of Belgium.

All of these amazing designs as well as ephemera (elaborate and clever invitations from the designers to their clients) come from the collection of James and Karin Legato. Legato, who was part of the new youth culture, envisioned a store where art, music, hair and fashion design would meet. In 1963, his store was an upscale hair salon in Pittsburgh, but by 1969, trendy women’s fashion had been added. At this time he met his future wife Karin, who became his muse and later business partner. Together they expanded their store, “Emphatics.” They purposely sought out avant-garde designers, featured their fabulous creations and remained loyal to them. The store flourished for decades but closed in 2013 when James became ill. The Phoenix Art Museum is very fortunate to have such a collection, as it is a real testament to 50 years of some of the most creative and innovative fashion. It is also a valuable history of the time when the artistic spirit was celebrated and before fashion became all about money and the bottom line.

The exhibit is arranged chronologically and begins with the first piece Karin Legato bought. It is a black crocheted mini dress by Leah Hertz for Crochetta LTD, London. Allow enough time to check out the stunning shoes and accessories. Make sure you look at the cases in the middle of the gallery as they contain designer jewelry and rare copies of fashion ephemera. Look up at the large screens in the middle of the Gallery show to view old videos of the designers’ fashion shows.

The cost of this special exhibition is $5 plus the price of the museum admission. On Dec. 3, a new exhibition, “Eye on Fashion: The Kelly Ellman Collection,” will open in the Ellman Fashion Design Gallery. For more information on both fashion exhibits, check out the museum’s website: http://www.phxart.org/

More information here.


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