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The Gatekeepers
The Gatekeepers
Setting a department store's overall vibe and then stocking it with edgy yet commercial goods is a role that requires vision, savvy, and style. These top practitioners have those qualities in spades: (from left) Linda Fargo, who oversees the women's fashion office, store windows, and interiors at Bergdorf Goodman; Ron Frasch, Saks's president and chief merchant; and Ken Downing, fashion director at Neiman Marcus.

Their expertise is especially vital today as even the big stores feel customers tightening their crocodile belts. Meanwhile, the feeble dollar weakens retailers' purchasing power in Paris and Milan.

Photographed at La Goulue bistro on Madison Avenue in New York City

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Last updated August 21 2008: 6:08 PM ET
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