7.11/ Parrish Art: ‘Is Fashion Art?’ / Talk, Q&A, w/ FIT Museum Director Steele — July 21, 6 PM


Fashion Institute of Technology Museum Director

Dr. Valerie Steele Discusses the Question


Dr. Valerie Steele, fashion historian and  author, as well as  chief curator, director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York, will explore the question, “Is fashion art?” at the Parrish Art Museum on Friday, July 21, at 6pm. Drawing from  a wide range of images—from haute couture garments and catwalk shows to classical and avant-garde art—Dr. Steele will also discuss who decides whether fashion is art. The presentation will be followed by a Q & A.

“As an admirer of Dr. Valerie Steele’s work, I am thrilled that she is a part of our summer series to discuss how fashion and art echo each other in today’s world. Fashion is a creative process that conveys an attitude and makes a statement. It has both personal and social connotations, which is very similar to artmaking, and we are excited to hear the highly anticipated presentation,” said Corinne Erni, Curator of Special Projects at the Parrish.

Dr. Steele will discuss how fashion—particularly haute couture—has often been regarded as art. Contributing to a revaluation of fashion as art is the rise of fashion exhibitions in museums, from  a classic Balenciaga evening dress displayed on a pedestal or in a glass case in a museum to the Rai Kawakubo / Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between exhibition currently on view The Met. Steele will address the opinions of fashion designers, curators, and critics on the fashion as art debate, and pose the question: What role does the public play in deciding if fashion is art?


Dr. Valerie Steele


Since being named chief curator at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 1997, Dr. Valerie Steele has organized over 20 exhibitions, including The Corset: Fashioning the BodyLondon FashionGothic: Dark GlamourShoe ObsessionDaphne GuinnessA Queer History of Fashion, and Dance and Fashion. With a Ph.D. from Yale University, Steele has established an academic perspective on fashion. She is the founder and editor- in-chief of the first peer-reviewed, scholarly journal in Fashion Studies, Fashion Theory: Journal of Dress, Body & Culture. Steele has either authored or co-authored over twenty books including Fashion and EroticismParis FashionWomen of FashionFetish: Fashion, Sex and PowerThe Corset: A Cultural HistoryGothic: Dark GlamourJapan Fashion NowThe Impossible Collection FashionThe Berg Companion to Fashion, and Fashion Designers A-Z: The Collection of The Museum at FIT—all of which have been translated into six different languages.


Dr. Valerie Steele: Is Fashion Art?

Talk and Q & A

Friday, July 21, 6pm

Parrish Art Museum

$12 | Free for Members, children, and students. Includes Museum admission.


Friday nights are made possible, in part, by the generous support of The Corcoran Group, Bridgehampton National Bank, and Sandy and Stephen Perlbinder. Modern Luxury’s BEACH Magazine is the media sponsor for Friday nights.


Museum at FIT

The Museum at FIT, which is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is the only museum in New York City dedicated solely to the art of fashion. Best known for its innovative and award-winning exhibitions, the museum has a collection of more than 50,000 garments and accessories dating from the 18th century to the present. The museum’s mission is to educate and inspire diverse audiences with innovative exhibition and projects that advance the knowledge of fashion. Visit fitnyc.edu/museum.


Photo Credits

Dr. Valerie Steele. Photo: Michael Kanakis;

Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian dress, displayed in the Paris Re-fashioned, 1957 – 1968 exhibition. Photo: Courtesy of the Museum at FIT


Inspired by the natural setting and artistic life of Long Island’s East End, the Parrish Art Museum illuminates the creative process and how art and artists transform our experiences and understanding of the world and how we live in it. The Museum fosters connections among individuals, art, and artists through care and interpretation of the collection, presentation of exhibitions, publications, educational initiatives, programs, and artists-in residence. The Parrish is a center for cultural engagement, an inspiration and destination for the region, the nation, and the world.




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