Beginning in the late 1970s, FIT library director John Touhey initiated the collection of oral histories as told by prominent members of the American fashion industry. Over the course of several decades, fashion designers, department store executives, Hollywood costume designers, models and style icons all generously agreed to sit down and speak about their experiences with moderators sourced from the FIT community. These interviews were recorded in a variety of formats ranging from Umatic tape, reel-to-reel, audio cassettes, VHS and mini-DV. Recently, in an effort to preserve the valuable content of these accounts, Special Collections has begun converting these now-obsolete formats to make them digitally accessible.
At the time of their creation, many of the interviews were transcribed and PDF versions may be viewed via our Oral History section of the Special Collections Libguide, while audio and video content is available through our Youtube Channel. Highlights currently featured from this selection of the more than 300 oral histories that comprise the collection include:
- Geoffrey Beene, fashion designer
- Henry Callahan, window display artist
- Bonnie Cashin, fashion designer
- Liz Claiborne, fashion designer
- Andrew Goodman of Bergdorf Goodman
- Mrs. William Randolph Hearst Jr., style icon
- Nina Hyde, fashion journalist
- Eleanor Lambert, fashion publicist
- Ralph Lauren, fashion designer
- Judith Lieber, accessories designer
- Arnold Scaasi, fashion designer
- Adele Simpson, fashion designer
- Lee & Marvin Traub of Bloomingdale’s
We are slowly adding additional content to both the Libguide and the Youtube Channel, so please keep your eyes peeled for oral histories related to the modeling industry, which are coming soon. A full listing of our oral history holdings can be found on our website. Please feel free to contact us with requests or questions; PDF versions can be directly emailed to you.