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The Influentials: Fashion

Julie Gilhart  

Terry Lundgren
CEO, Federated Department Stores
The department store was in danger of becoming irrelevant to American shoppers increasingly trained to go to Costco, Target, or Wal-Mart. By keeping prices down and glitzy brand names front and center (Federated just signed a big home-furnishings deal with Martha Stewart), Lundgren, who controls 850 stores (Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and just about everything else), is reinventing the form.

Mary Catalina
Vintage dealer
Designers like Oscar de la Renta and Anna Sui turn to Catalina’s vast, well-organized collection of vintage clothes and fabric swatches for inspiration (occasionally putting the piece itself on the runway), which means that right now, somewhere in her studio is what you’ll be wearing next spring.

Marc Ecko
Founder, Ecko Unlimited
Press-hungry antics like his current First Amendment lawsuit against the city make Ecko seem more clown than kingpin, but he’s the top dog in hip-hop fashion, even though the competition (P. Diddy, Russell Simmons, Jay-Z, and Damon Dash) has infinitely more name recognition. Ecko got in early (his line launched in 1993) and knows how to monopolize his consumer. He sold his oversize shirts at skate shops, thus cross-breeding two potent teen cultures, and founded a bi-monthly shopping magazine for men called Complex that’s actually successful.

Julie Gilhart
Fashion director, Barneys New York
As fashion director of the most forward-thinking big store in the city, Gilhart is responsible for feeding customers a constant diet of the new and lust-worthy. She does this by trekking to designers’ studios and then championing those she thinks have the proper balance of real design skill and luxury. She could easily delegate the searching to underlings, but—yes, that’s Gilhart in the front row of some obscure student’s wobbly first attempt. She’s promoted Alber Elbaz (now a star at Lanvin after a rocky few years), Proenza Schouler, Olivier Theyskens, Goyard, and Project Alabama, to name a few. And with Barneys expanding across the country, Gilhart’s effect is going national.

Andrew Rosen and Elie Tahari
Founders, Theory
In 1997, they started a line of cleanly tailored stretch fabric separates and made it possible for thousands of women to finally put their work wardrobes on autopilot.

Thom Browne
Designer, Thom Browne New York
To the uninitiated, Thom Browne’s flood-watch trousers and skinny jackets are geek revisited. But his shrunken preppy look is having a ripple effect—see Brooks Brothers’ newest suit silhouette, the Fitzgerald, with its high armhole, slim cut, and skinnier pant.