Phoenix Art Museum is proud to announce the recent acquisition of the “Emphatics” archive, a rare collection of avant-garde contemporary fashions collected by James and Karin Legato. The Legatos spent decades building and curating “Emphatics,” (one of the country’s premiere designer retailers located in Pittsburgh, PA) and after 50 years of operating the exclusive boutique, they decided to close the store and bolster its legacy by offering their collection to Phoenix Art Museum for purchase. A group of dedicated patrons came together to support this landmark acquisition.
“We are thrilled to be passing the “Emphatics” archives onto Phoenix Art Museum’s fashion design collection. From its diverse roster of exhibitions and programs to the generous support from its community, we admire the Museum’s longstanding legacy of celebrating fashion as art and are proud that our collection will be celebrated for years to come.” – Karin Legato
The “Emphatics” archives include over 400 iconic fashions and accessories by world renowned designers such as Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, Thierry Mugler, John Galliano, Romeo Gigli, Christian Lacroix, Alaia, and Jean Paul Gaultier among others. The archive also includes rare photography and videos of the designers fashion shows, original runway show invitations and other ephemera produced by the designer’s houses. “The Emphatics archive represents the most forward thinking designers working in the 80s and 90s, a very fertile period in fashion,” explains Dennita Sewell, the Museum’s curator of fashion design. “The designs are exciting but also acquiring the invitations and video material places the designers work in a larger creative context and makes it an ideal archive for an educational institution like Phoenix Art Museum.”
This acquisition is the first of a roster of significant acquisitions and events the Museum is planning to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of its Fashion Design collection and volunteer organization, Arizona Costume Institute in 2016. "Our main goal in supporting the fashion design collection at Phoenix Art Museum is to build an important and diverse history of fashion that will inspire and educate our community for decades to come," says Kelly Ellman Museum benefactor who spearheaded the fundraising efforts for the Emphatics archive. Phoenix Art Museum’s fashion design collection was founded in 1966 and has since amassed over 5,000 objects, a permanent exhibition space (The Kelly Ellman Fashion Design Gallery) and full-time curatorial staff. With two annual exhibits, dozens of public programs and a dedicated support organization, the Fashion Design Department at Phoenix Art Museum is known nationally as a vibrant fashion program and resource to fashion professionals and museum enthusiasts alike.
(image and video by Ken Howie)