When Valerie Steele was studying history at Yale in the 1970s, a fellow student made a presentation on the Victorian corset, and Steele’s career as a public fashion intellectual was born—in her mind. She had to invent the role, eventually writing books, curating more than 20 exhibitions, and becoming director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Tonight, she lectures on how Japanese designers like Issey Miyake, Yohji Yamamoto, and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons revolutionized clothes in the 1980s. The clothes themselves are upstairs in the galleries in the visiting exhibition Future Beauty. (Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave, seattleartmuseum.org, 7–8 pm, $10)