Chief Curator and Director Dr. Valerie Steele of The Museum at FIT knows fashion. And, how. She’s the expert’s expert and here our roaming fashion chronicler Gordon Kendall catches up with her as they stride across Manhattan to discuss Texas style.

Portrait photography courtesy of Valerie Steele

MANHATTAN MERRY GO ‘ROUND

In A New York Minute. Everything and everyone moves fast in New York. If you’re not quick enough you might just miss something. So, let us take you there and back, just for a minute each time, in this new series of glimpses, snips-and-snaps, gained first-hand…from exciting people in New York… about exciting people, happenings, and experiences in fashion, beauty, food, lifestyle, anything and everything that captures the eye, or ear! No matter where you are, sit back and enjoy your fashionable minute in Manhattan. 

We’ve just turned right, on to West 27th Street. The block before us is a typical New York City, east to west situated street: longer than it looks. Like a typical New Yorker, we’re running late. Blame the train, right, or that forever wait to get our coffee we’re holding? Also, as frequently happens in Northeastern climates, the weather is just too something: hot, humid, cold, rainy, snowy, whatever it is, there’s too much of it to be comfortable, certainly helpful.

The street itself, off 6th, could be the very model for a movie backlot set of a typical New York City street. Hip fitness “boutiques” and trend-themed hotels vie with old storefronts, their windows dusty, their darkened-at-all hours upper floors, forlornly looming down over us. Blocking the sidewalk? A sign reading: “Aggressive Meditation Taught Here”. Dare we call the phone number listed to find out more? We’re making our way as fast as we can up the street when, ahead, a door opens.

A figure emerges onto the sidewalk before us, lithe in black Celine and harlequin glasses, further signaling the signature style of Dr. Valerie Steele of The Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology, that grey behemoth building rising on the distant horizon of Seventh Avenue.

She’s leaving her Asian art-filled aerie (her husband is a renowned authority on Asian art history), headed to the museum. Another day at the office. We catch up with new greetings. As we walk together, a question comes to mind for Dr. Steele, perhaps based on her recent appearance on the recent CNN television documentary American Style.

TRULY TEXAS STYLE

So, what about Texas style? How might she describe the fashion looks of the ladies of the Lone Star State, I ask?

Without hesitation: “Very Chic.” comes her reply.

“….the hair: Big. The makeup, jewelry, all well thought out…and always wonderful accessories!” she continues.

“Tremendous collectors of haute couture, so many very fashion-conscious.” she says as we stop at the southeast corner at Seventh Avenue.

We walk across the street, with a wave, she disappears into the museum’s lobby, its walls adorned with murals of its latest show. Continuing on, the street seems not New York’s Seventh Avenue, but, perhaps, Austin’s South Congress Avenue, Dallas’ Main Street, Houston’s Post Oak, or any other in any Texas town where fashion is worn and the state’s “museum quality” style is always present and accounted.