Pittsburgh Opera event showcases Emphatics collection
March 6, 2017 12:00 AM
Ron Booth and Karin Legato close out the runway during the finale at the Pittsburgh Opera's Operatically Emphatic, the opera's first fashion show, on Thursday at its home in the Strip District.
Christopher Hahn and Michele Fabrizi.
By Natalie Bencivenga / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
#HauteMoment: The Pittsburgh Opera headquarters in the Strip District was the place to be #SEEN on Thursday night as a full house of fashionistas and opera enthusiasts flooded the space for the opera’s first fashion show, a collaboration with the beloved Emphatics, a Downtown boutique that showcased couture and high-end fashions before it closed in 2013. It was reborn with pieces from patrons’ private collections walking the runway. “All the great fashion houses are influenced by theater,” said Christopher Hahn, director of the Pittsburgh Opera. “Opera is drama, and to showcase the work of our costume designers as well as the couture pieces from Emphatics it was a match made in heaven,” he added. And to complete the looks? Fabulous hair and makeup moments from Ron Booth Studios, inspired by the avant-garde creations once shown at Emphatics. “This was a new idea that just made sense,” said event chair Michele Fabrizi. “Opera has such outrageous fashion and to have the involvement of Karin [Legato], who brought cutting-edge fashions like Gautier to the United States, was just really exciting.” Karin Legato owned/operated Emphatics with her late husband, James.
The anticipation from the crowd was palpable as guests such as Wallis Katz and Cindy Engler loaned their own pieces for the runway. Others such as Roseanne Wholey couldn’t resist wearing hers to the show. “I remember calling Karin to hold ‘The Splash Suit’ by Thierry Mugler after I saw it in a catalog,” she said, running her hands along the velvet trim. “It was either eat or buy the suit,” she laughed. “Clearly the answer is buy the suit!” And what did it feel like for Ms. Legato to witness the legacy of Emphatics embraced so fiercely by the community? “I was so happy to keep the Emphatics spirit alive. When Christopher approached me and when he said it was his dream to showcase the work, how could I say no? The fact that the board members of the opera and past clients came together to create this moment, it was special. My dream is to one day have the Emphatics exhibit [which was on display in Phoenix, Ariz.] come to Pittsburgh.” Considering the excitement around the show, her dream could certainly become reality.
#Debut: For one particular model, this moment was bigger than anyone could have realized. Juliet Evancho, 18, of Pine, who identifies as transgender and is the older sister of internationally known singer Jackie Evancho, couldn’t get the butterflies out of her stomach upon the realization that she would be a part of this show. “It was electrifying, I was dying backstage from nerves,” she said. “It is so humbling to represent many types of women and I am proud to do it. To be able to be up there and be the real me …” she said, holding back tears, “It’s emotional. But, I think I rocked it.” Indeed!
#SEEN: Tori Mistick, wearing her own dramatic look down the runway from Olivier Theyskens; Demeatria Boccella, who produced the show along with Ms. Legato, Tara Rieland and Ms. Mistick; Kathleen Patrinos; Gabriela Porges; Nachum Golan (in Thierry Mugler) and Steve Hough (in Issey Miyake); John and Nancy Traina; Anne Lewis (in Jean Paul Gautier); Kiya Tomlin; Alli Frymoyer; Rebecca Snyder; Rhoda Neft; Gina and David Pferdehirt; Rebecca Whitlinger; Michele de la Reza, who brought budding fashion designer 14-year-old Langston White along with her as his birthday present; Christina Imberlina; Danielle Katz and Quincy Swatson.
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