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Theory of What? The Present and the Future of Fashion Studies. A lecture by Valerie Steele

Public program for The Fabric of Felicity
18 November 2018


Fashion historian and one of the pioneers of Fashion Studies Valerie Steele will retrace the development of the discipline from its origins in "costume history" to its current status, associated with cutting-edge scholarship and spectacular museum exhibitions.

Fashion is an art form, a multi-billion-dollar business and an expression of individual creativity. Yet until recently fashion was not taken seriously as a legitimate subject of intellectual inquiry. This began to change in the 1980s with the rise of Fashion Studies, an interdisciplinary, international field of scholarship, embracing fashion history, theory, and museum practice.

Fashion is no longer automatically dismissed as a "frivolous" topic, but it is still often regarded as entertainment, without educational or intellectual value. For example, museum directors often encourage fashion exhibitions as a way to attract crowds of visitors, without acknowledging that fashion can be more than an entertainment. Steele will also discuss how the economic importance of luxury fashion is influencing Fashion Studies.


Valerie Steele is a director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She has personally organized more than twenty-five exhibitions, including The Corset: Fashioning the Body, Gothic: Dark Glamour, London Fashion, and others. She is also founder and has been editor in chief of Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culturesince 1997. She is author or co-author of many books, including Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power, Gothic: Dark Glamour, Paris Fashion, The Corset: A Cultural History, and Women of Fashion.


Free admission with advance registration.

The lecture will be held in English with interpreting into Russian.


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