Episode #34, June 3, 2021
Dr. Valerie Steele, From Student Epiphany to Global Fashion Legend
In one of our most fascinating and fun episodes, Dr. Valerie Steele, fashion icon and legendary director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT joins Fashioncast® to talk fashion history. The author/co-author of over 20 books on a myriad of fashion topics, Dr. Steele is unmatched in her comprehensive knowledge of the past, present, and future of the fashion industry.
So, just how did Dr. Steele find her path to the world of fashion? It’s an incredible story of sudden epiphany, risk, ability, and commitment over many years. Dr. Steele began her career at FIT in 1985 and has had a front-row seat to the global fashion industry through the college, museum, and New York City as a fashion destination ever since. Given her vast experience, fashion intellect, and disarming personality, it’s little wonder Steele is continuously in demand to comment, write, and lecture.
In this episode, it’s enlightening to hear Dr. Steele reflect on the consistent top international rankings for FIT and The Museum at FIT and how such academic stature provides opportunity and impacts the management of the institution. In addition, Steele discusses the museum’s response to the COVID pandemic and how the success of virtual exhibitions and related technology are likely to play key roles in the future of fashion presentations.
While Dr. Steele continues to build and expand The Museum at FIT, it’s clear, from an outsider’s perspective, Steele is more than simply passionate about the subject of fashion, she’s on a mission. For example, her fashion acumen shines as she describes the “American style” especially the historical underpinnings that brought about the current eclectic mix and range of apparel available. She is masterful and entertaining at the same time.
The interview also covers fashion topics beyond history and style that Dr. Steele is well-informed including fast fashion, or as she describes it “junk fashion,” and its direct impact on the environment, working conditions, and the global fashion culture. Fashion technology is briefly discussed such as novel fabrics, smart clothes, and 3D printing and their adaptation and usefulness.
Lastly, Dr. Steele gives her distinguished perspective as a leader in the international fashion industry on what troubles and inspires her most about the state of fashion and her insights on the future of the fashion.
It was truly a great honor to interview Dr. Valerie Steele, a giant in the world of fashion. Please enjoy!