An Interview with The Museum at FIT’s Chief Curator, Valerie Steele

How fortunate I was to have the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Valerie Steele, the Museum at FIT’s chief curator and director for a one on one interview. I relish every opportunity to meet successful women in the fashion industry, but it is a rare chance to learn about a unique career path based in a love for the history of fashion. In our newest video, Valerie Steele shares her one of a kind path in fashion with University of Fashion students.

Valerie discusses how The Museum at FIT came to be as well as how she acquires pieces for the Museum’s permanent collection. With a permanent collection of over 50,000 garments and accessories from the 18th century to the present day, the Museum at FIT is well known for their interesting and provocative exhibitions such as Surrealism & Fashion, A Queer History of Fashion and Exposed-a History of Lingerie. During our interview, Valerie shares her process for curating such exhibitions. Take a virtual tour of a recent exhibit with Valerie below. In our interview, Valerie discusses how and why Dance and Fashion was created.

Currently on exhibit is Faking It: Originals, Copies and Counterfeits which investigates authenticity and copyright protection against knock offs in the fashion industry.

We were inspired by Valerie’s love of fashion history and her desire to create a visual history for students at FIT as well as visitors to The Museum at FIT.  Valerie shares how cultural studies at Yale sparked an interest in how fashion influences culture as well as her journey from fashion historian to curator, author and fashion icon. Valerie is a wealth of information for University of Fashion students and serves as a reminder of the many paths one can take in the fashion industry. Enjoy our newest video. I certainly enjoyed the time spent with Dr. Steele.

One final note: I was curious to know what Valerie’s most prized acquisition at The Museum at FIT is – a Vionnet, a Galliano, perhaps a McQueen? Watch our newest video and find out for yourself!

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Kara Laricks is a regular contributor to the University of Fashion. She’s also a New York based women's wear and accessories designer. As the first winner of NBC's Fashion Star, Kara has designed collections for H&M, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her masculine meets feminine line, Kara Laricks, debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2012 and her S/S 2013 collection sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue. Kara's designs have been featured on the Today Show and HBO's True Blood as well as covered in Women's Wear Daily and on Kara holds Master's degrees in both Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas and in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. An educator turned designer, Kara is dedicated to supporting emerging designers and inspiring others to follow where dreams lead.