Valerie Steele is director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT). Steele has been organizing exhibitions since 1999, raising public awareness of the cultural and social significance of fashion. Her curation credits include Daphne Guinness (2011), Gothic: Dark Glamour (2008), Love & War: The Weaponized Woman' (2006), London Fashion (2002) and The Corset (2000). Steele is founding editor of the scholarly quarterly, Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, and editor-in-chief of the three-volume Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion (Scribners, 2005), abridged as The Berg Companion to Fashion (Berg, 2011). With a Ph.D. from Yale, Steele has gone on to write several staple academic books, including Fashion Design, A-Z (Taschen, 2012), The Impossible Collection Fashion (Assouline, 2011), Gothic: Dark Glamour (Yale, 2008), The Corset: A Cultural History (Yale, 2001), Paris Fashion (Oxford, 1988 and revised edition, Berg, 1999), Fifty Years of Fashion (Yale, 1997), Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power (Oxford University Press, 1996), Women of Fashion: 20th-Century Designers (Rizzoli, 1991) and Fashion and Eroticism (Oxford, 1985) - several have been made into international editions translated into Chinese, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Russian.
Steele has appeared on many television programs including The Oprah Winfrey Show and Undressed: The Story of Fashion. After she appeared on the PBS special, The Way We Wear, she was described in The Washington Post as ‘fashion’s brainiest woman’
Steele has been the subject of numerous profiles, such as ‘The Freud of Fashion’ by Suzy Menkes for the International Herald Tribune, ‘Fashion Professor’ in Forbes and ‘High-heeled Historian’ in The New York Times, she was listed as number 18 in ‘fashion’s 50 most powerful’ in the Daily News (27 August 2009).