(dress by Charles James 1952 http://www.artsjournal.com/culturegrrl/BrkCost.jpg)
It would have to be Valerie Steele, she is actually the coolest woman ever. She is probably one of the best fashion experts out there and i love the fact that she sees fashion as an intellectual subject as part of our cultural history in the way i do. I first heard of Steele when watching a B.B.C fashion documentary (they just know how to make them) and researched a bit further into her finding out that she has curated numerous amazing exhibitions and written many truly great books. I also really value the way in which she appreciates two of the greatest and often forgotten about designers, Charles James and Vionnet.
I would say that nowadays more people have heard of Vionnet than in the past, partly because more people have become aware of the fact that she was one of the forerunners of bias cutting, but what i love most is her use of little dolls to create her pieces on. Rather than sketching she made her garments up on the dolls first to see if the designs would work, such incredible practicality!
James though, I think, remains too much a designer in the dark, probably one of the true American fashion masters, he ultimately was one of the most skilled in the business in the 50’s, and had talent that could rival the like of Dior or Balenciaga, his main downfall was his lack of business sense, and the fact that in essence he cared too much for his clothes, he would never stop with a garment until he felt it was perfect( or at least near perfect), working and reworking it years later. He is one of the designers that deserves the title “artist”.