Queer History Symposium 2013

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The Museum at FIT’s thirteenth fashion symposium, A Queer History of Fashion, included over twenty participants, more than any symposium we’ve held yet. Over the course of two days, an international array of scholars, authors, designers, and curators discussed historical and contemporary issues related to queer designers, icons, fashion, and style. 

9–10 am
Check-in, registration
Haft Auditorium, Feldman Center, second floor
10 am–1 pm
Welcoming Remarks
Dr. Joyce F. Brown, President of FIT, Welcome
Dr. Valerie Steele, “A Queer History of Fashion”
Simon Doonan and Fred Dennis, in conversation
James Gager, “MAC: All Ages, All Races, All Sexes”
Christopher Breward, “Couture as Queer Auto/Biography”
John Bartlett, “My Life as a Gay Designer”
Dr. Monica L. Miller, “All Hail the Q.U.E.E.N.: Janelle Monae and A Tale of the Tux”
1–2 pm
Lunch break
2–5 pm
Fran Lebowitz and Valerie Steele, in conversation
Kevin Sessums, “The World was Safer Sitting Under my Grandmother’s Singer Sewing Machine: A Sissy’s Remembrance of a Boyhood Filled with Butterick Patterns and Bouffant Palaver”
Vicki Karaminas, “‘Born This Way’: Lesbian Style Since the Eighties”
Liz Collins, “Art Dykes and Hag Fags: An Insider’s View of Queer Style Icons”
Hal Rubenstein, “Do Gay Clothes Have More Fun?”

9–10 am
Check-in and registration
Haft Auditorium, Feldman Center, second floor
10 am–1 pm
Randolph Trumbach, “Man-Milliners and Macaronis: Clothes, Same-Sex Desire, and the 18th-Century Origins of the Modern Sexual System”
Elizabeth Wilson, “What Does a Lesbian Look Like?”
Dr. Deirdre Clemente, “Life in the Closet: Deconstructing Liberace’s Wardrobe”
Shaun Cole, “Queerly Visible: Gay Men, Dress, and Style 1990–2013”
Jonathan D. Katz, “Queer Self-Fashioning”
1–2 pm
Lunch break
2–5 pm
Ralph Rucci, “The Greatest Gay Fashion Designers”
Reina Lewis, “Out of the Closet and Into the Wardrobe”
Joel Sanders, “Closet Space: Philip Johnson, Paul Rudolph and the Runway”
Omar Sharif, Jr., “The Fashion of Philanthropy”
Fred Dennis, “Reality Check: Gay Bashers and Bullies”

This year, admission to the symposium is free—for everyone. However, registration is still is required. Click here to register.


The symposium A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk was held in the Morris W. and Fannie B. Haft Auditorium, on the second floor of FIT’s Marvin Feldman Center, on West 27th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues in New York City.

The exhibition A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk, currently on view, is the first museum exhibition to explore in depth the significant contributions to fashion made by LGBTQ individuals over the past 300 years.