A TO Z, MOSTLY: Taschen’s hefty “Fashion Designers A-Z” sounds like a definitive tome on the industry, but author Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, is the first to admit it isn’t. “The key idea was a portrait of the museum’s permanent collection,” Steele said during an appearance to promote the $350 coffee-table book at Neiman Marcus NorthPark Center. “We discovered we didn’t have any decent Ungaro, so he wasn’t in, and I had always assumed he would be….I was teasing my editor, and I said in a few years we’ll have to do volume two because we’ll continue building the collection and there are so many other people that I’m crazy about like Haider Ackermann, Céline, that are not in the book because we haven’t acquired things.”

She buys items for the Museum at FIT for their historical significance and to feature in upcoming exhibitions, so she’s currently casting a fairly wide net. Opening in September is “A Queer History of Fashion from the Closet to the Catwalk” about the importance of gay designers, including Christian Dior, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, Alexander McQueen and others; up next spring is an international survey of Thirties fashion, followed in fall 2014 by the influence of dance in fashion.

This story first appeared in the March 27, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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