Valerie Steele, the renowned fashion historian/author and the director of the Fashion Institute of Technology's Museum in New York, is hard at work on her exciting new exhibit: "Queer Style: From the Closet to the Catwalk," which will focus on gay designers and their influence on the history of fashion.
"I think that's kind of one of the most important and fascinating shows that I've ever worked on because it makes you look at the whole history of modern fashion from a new angle," Steele, renowned for graduating with the first PhD in fashion, told the blog Fashionologie. "Everybody knows that there are lots of gay people in fashion, and there have been lots of gay designers: Dior, Saint Laurent, Versace, et cetera. But nobody's ever really thought consciously to put the gayness back into fashion history and say: 'Why are there so many gay people in fashion?' and 'Is there a gay aesthetic?' and 'What have been the influences of having so many gay people in fashion?'"
Just off the top of our head, we can think of many openly gay designers including Yves St. Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, Calvin Klein, Francisco Costa, Gianni Versace, Jason Wu, Zac Posen, Alber Elbaz, Valentino Garavani, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, Michael Kors and Jean Paul Gaultier.
The exhibit will have to be pretty darn big if they plan on including work from every top gay designer.
Steele herself has an interesting personal history. She dropped out of high school at 15, got into Dartmouth, then went to Yale for her doctoral studies in modern European cultural and intellectual history. But after she read a classmate’s paper on the cultural impact of the Victorian corset, she found her true calling: fashion history.
Her Yale doctoral dissertation was on the erotic aspects of Victorian fashion. Since then she’s written numerous books, including Gothic: Dark Glamour; The Corset: A Cultural History; Paris Fashion; Fifty Years of Fashion: New Look to Now; Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power; and Women of Fashion: 20th-Century Designers.
Steele became chief curator at the Museum at FIT in 1997 and was named director in 2003. She’s curated more than 20 exhibitions in the past 10 years, including "Gothic: Dark Glamour"; "Love & War: The Weaponized Woman"; "The Corset: Fashioning the Body"; "London Fashion"; and "Femme Fatale: Fashion in Fin-de-Siècle Paris."
We can't wait to see her exhibit tackling this historically fascinating topic.