The Museum at FIT organizes and hosts symposia that bring together curators, scholars, designers, and other fashion professionals to explore important themes in fashion. Learn more about upcoming and past symposia below. Many past symposia are available to view on demand on our YouTube channel.


Past Symposia

"New directions in fashion research"
Friday, April 5, 10:00 am–5:00 pm

The Museum at FIT’s 31st symposium, New Directions in Fashion Research, focused on new avenues of study in the interdisciplinary field of fashion. Scholars, curators, and collectors explored topics such as practice-based research, collecting practices, theories and methodologies, and the role of diversity, equity, and inclusion in fashion education.

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Model wearing ramen print ensemble while eating ramen out of a bucket hat
Friday, November 3, 2023 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

The Food & Fashion Symposium featured preeminent food and fashion scholars, as well as designers, chefs, and artists, exploring how, for over two centuries, food culture has impacted fashion, and vice versa. Topics included sustainability, the creative overlap between fashion and food within haute cuisine and through social media, how cultural identity and social justice are communicated through food and fashion, how body image and eating practices are impacted by the intersection of food and fashion, and how artists express the relationship between these two vital aspects of culture and society. Organized in conjunction with the exhibition of the same title.

Image: BH signature ramen print set, Bobblehaus, 2020. Photographed by Madeline Thomas for Bobblehaus.

We were happy to partner with INNSiDE by Melia New York NoMad Hotel for this event.

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woman in white hoodie and shorts posing at a subway turnstile
Friday, February 24, 2023

This symposium drew on the expert voices of journalists, designers, and stylists as well as curators, professors, and archivists who explored topics that centered hip hop fashion as a force that has shaped American culture for five decades.

Image: Kisha, New York City, 2000. Photo courtesy of Jamel Shabazz.

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green 19th century dress with lace, soutache, and fringe on a mannequin
Friday, November 11, 2022

Mercury, arsenic, and other harmful substances were routinely included in the production processes of many 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century textiles, fashions, and accessories. The Material Evidence Virtual Symposium highlighted and considered the risks posed by museum collection objects tainted with hazardous substances.

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models Emiliano and Samuel posing in pastel suits in the middle of a wide city street
Friday, October 7, 2022

By exploring the work of fashion designers of Latin American heritage, this symposium shed new light on Latin American and Latinx fashion. Topics  included politics, sustainability, art, Indigenous heritage, gender, and popular culture.

Image:  Amantes Encontrados for Vogue Italia. Photographer: Paola Vivas. Fashion: Sánchez-Kane. Styling: Chino Castilla. Models: Emiliano and Samuel for GUERXS AGENCY MX.

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title graphic for symposium with two watercolor illustrations
Friday, February 11, 2022, 11 AM EST

The 26th annual symposium organized by The Museum at FIT focused on the 1990s, exploring how concepts such as globalism and technological advancement shaped fashion of the era. It was organized in conjunction with the exhibition Reinvention and Restlessness: Fashion in the Nineties.

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Shoe sympoisum flame poster
Friday, December 3, 2021

The Museum at FIT’s 25th fashion symposium Stilettos to Sneakers: A Virtual Shoe Symposium brought together scholars and curators and their new research on the social and cultural significance of shoes. Shoes have played an important role in human society for millennia, but interest in them has grown exponentially in the past few decades with Americans—especially women—buying more shoes. A growing cohort of men have begun collecting sneakers. This symposium explored the evolving significance of shoes over the centuries—in real life and in the cultural imagination. It was organized in conjunction with the exhibition Head to Toe.

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Rose Symposium poster
Friday, April 30, 2021

This virtual event was The Museum at FIT’s 24th academic symposium. Ravishing: The Rose in Fashion explores how the beauty, mythology, and symbolism of the rose have long influenced fashionable dress. Rose: it's a flower, a color, and a scent. It's in fairy tales and design. This flower has become integral to art and culture. 

Speakers included Amy de la Haye, professor at London College of Fashion and co-curator of the exhibition; Jonathan Faiers, professor of Fashion Thinking at Winchester School of Art; Colleen Hill, curator at MFIT and co-curator of the exhibition; Nick Knight, founder of SHOWStudio; Mairi MacKenzie, research fellow at Glasgow School of Art; and Elizabeth Way, assistant curator at MFIT. The symposium was organized in conjunction with the book and exhibition Ravishing: The Rose in Fashion.

Photograph © Comme des Garçons.

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Ballerina Symposium Poster
Friday, March 6, 2020

Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse was The Museum at FIT’s 23rd academic symposium. The one-day event explored the ways in which twentieth-century ballerinas and their glamorous, romantic costumes profoundly inspired modern fashion.

Speakers included Lynn Garafola, professor emeritus of Columbia University; Laura Jacobs, dance and fashion critic; Jane Pritchard, curator of dance at the Victoria and Albert Museum; and Patricia Mears, deputy director of MFIT and curator of Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse.

Image: Lauren Lovette (NYCB), Behnaz Sarafpour dress, 2003. Photograph by Isabel Magowan.

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Paris: Capital of Fashion Symposium poster
Friday, October 18, 2019

Paris, Capital of Fashion was The Museum at FIT’s 22nd academic symposium. The one-day event explored what it means for a city to be deemed a “fashion capital” and why Paris is generally considered the most prestigious and competitive fashion capital in the world.

Speakers included Miren Arzalluz, director, the Palais Galliera, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris; Christopher Breward, director of collection and research, National Galleries of Scotland; Nancy L. Green, director of studies, Centre de Recherches Historiques; Dr. Valerie Steele, director of MFIT and curator of the exhibition Paris, Capital of Fashion and others.

Image: Small Landmarks: Reflecting, 1995, © David LaChapelle.

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collage of previous MFIT exhibitions
Friday, March 8, 2019

The Museum at FIT presented Exhibiting Fashion, its twenty-first academic symposium. This symposium explored the history of fashion curating, the different ways fashion is displayed in museum settings, and how national and regional identities influence fashion exhibitions. The symposium was organized in conjunction with Exhibitionism: 50 Years of The Museum at FIT, which commemorated the rich history of the museum, the site of more than 200 exhibitions since the 1970s.

Image: Paris Refashioned, 1957-1968 installation view, The Corset: Fashioning the Body installation view, and Junya Watanabe dress.

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two dancers, male and female, performing on stage
Thursday, October 23 – Friday, October 24, 2014

The Museum at FIT's fourteenth annual fashion symposium, Dance and Fashion, explored how dance costume has inspired fashion, and how fashion designers have increasingly been creating dance costumes. Topics included Rei Kawakubo's collaboration with Merce Cunningham and Rick Owens' fashion shows featuring steppers.

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woman in white dress posing next to a painting
Friday, December 4 – Saturday, December 5, 2009

American Style was The Museum at FIT's eighth annual, two-day symposium, held in conjunction with the exhibition American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion. Designers, scholars, authors, and curators discussed fashion of the Americans and explored themes ranging from the diversity of the American fashion industry to the unique characteristics of New York fashion. THe symposium also featured conversations with some of the most innovative American designers working today. 

Image: Evening dress by Norman Norell, Harper’s Bazaar, March 1951. Photograph by Louise Dahl-Wolfe.

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