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Crain's New York Business

100 Most Influential Women

By Tina Traster

Style's Arbiter - Anna Wintour -Vogue

October 1, 2007 - The feared and revered editor in chief of the world's leading fashion magazine, Anna Wintour, has used her authority to turn the title into a product line. Condé Nast has added Teen Vogue, Men's Vogue, and Vogue Living. The family of magazines generated $500 million in advertising revenue in 2006, according to Publishers Information Bureau, and the September 2007 issue of Vogue, at 840 pages, was the largest consumer monthly ever.

"Vogue is a powerful brand, but we need to make sure we don't dilute it," says Ms. Wintour, 55, whose signature dark glasses and blunt bob have established a public persona of elusive iciness. The magazine has legs, she says, because "we don't talk down to readers, and we haven't given in to tabloid journalism."

The British-born editor held a series of jobs at Harpers & Queen, Harper's Bazaar, British Vogue, New York and Home & Garden before taking the top spot at Vogue in 1988. Ms. Wintour, who has raised more than $12 million for AIDS research and more than $31 million for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute, finds refuge in her Long Island garden.

"Landscapes are good for the soul," she says.

Celebrity gossip's Godmother - Bonnie Fuller - American Media

Bonnie Fuller, the former editor of Us Weekly who is credited with defining the celebrity weekly magazine, took her star power to American Media Inc. in 2003. As chief editorial director, she oversees 15 titles, including Star, Shape, Men's Fitness, Natural Health and Fit Pregnancy.

Ms. Fuller, whose resume includes stints at YM, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Glamour, has transformed Star from a tabloid to a glossy title. Circulation has jumped 24% since her arrival, to 1.5 million copies, though she is under intense pressure to keep bumping up those numbers as readers move to the Internet. The number of advertising pages is up 36% since 2004.

"Bonnie Fuller has a well-honed sense of how to deal with celebrities, but her real success derives from the fact that she used these skills just before there was an explosion of celebrity-driven media," says Martin Walker, chairman of Walker Communications, a magazine consulting firm.

In April 2006, Ms. Fuller, 51, published her first book, The Joys of Much Too Much: Go for the Big Life-The Great Career, The Perfect Guy, and Everything Else You've Ever Wanted. Ms. Fuller, who has four children, says she wants women to know "they can have a full life and a career"-and plenty of celebrity gossip.

High steps of a Fashion Fabulon - Kimora Lee Simmons - Baby Phat

Over a decade, this 32-year-old former supermodel and hip-hop style icon has turned herself into a one-woman fashion powerhouse.

In 2004, Kimora Lee Simmons and estranged husband Russell Simmons sold their company, Baby Phat Fashions, to apparel giant Kellwood Co. for $140 million. Ms. Simmons is now creative director of Baby Phat by Kimora Lee Simmons (part of Baby Phat Fashions) and controls the licenses for many of its products-licenses that generated $750 million in retail sales last year.

She has a SoHo boutique and several other stores internationally, and recently launched the KLS line.

Ms. Simmons' book, Fabulosity: What It Is and How to Get It, was released in August. And her reality TV show, Life in the Fab Lane, is now airing on the E! network. "I'm the example for young women on the go," declares Ms. Simmons, who says she sleeps four hours a night.

She is also melding her business pursuits with her advocacy for animal rights.

"I'm trying to make my clothing line 100% fur-free," she says. "I'm almost there."

Dynasty established on a dress - Diane von Furstenberg

Reinvention is the name of the game in fashion, and Diane von Furstenberg has made a career of it. After selling her first company and moving to Paris in 1985, she stopped designing clothes and founded a French-language publishing house.

She rebooted in 1997, launching her new company and reintroducing her signature wrap dress for a new generation of fans. The Studio, which forecasts revenue of $200 million for 2007, sells to boutiques and specialty stores in 57 countries.

"When I licensed my brand, I lost control," says Ms. von Furstenberg, 60. "The brand lost its point of view." Today, she sells a complete collection of women's sportswear, handbags and shoes. Her business partners are her children, Tatiana and Alexandre, and her second husband, media mogul Barry Diller.

Ms. von Furstenberg, who was named president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America last year, was on the cover of Newsweek at age 28 and later helped pioneer TV shopping channels.

Success is not about fame, though, she says. "You have to have an honest product."

Julie Gilhart - Barneys New York

When Julie Gilhart arrives at the SoHo office of fashion designer Rogan Gregory, it's hard to believe that she isn't one of the models. The reed-thin Ali McGraw look-alike is wearing short-shorts, a flowing Lanvin blouse and chunky sandals.

But Ms. Gilhart, 49, doesn't stalk the catwalk. As fashion director at Barneys New York, she decides what is for sale at some of the world's most important fashion emporiums. ``Julie got us exposure at the most well-respected retailer,'' Mr. Gregory says, adding that Barneys accounts for 30% of his wholesale business.

Ms. Gilhart, known industry-wide as the shepherdess of undiscovered designers, scored a coup by promoting green clothing, including Mr. Gregory's line of organic-cotton casual wear.

She has also moved established stars like Helmut Lang, Alber Elbaz, Balenciaga and Proenza Schouler into the mainstream. For instance, after she brought French luxury handbag and luggage company Goyard to the United States, Bergdorf Goodman and other stores followed suit.

``Thanks to Julie, we've had a continuous parade of fresh talent,'' says Howard Socol, president of Barneys.

He says that Ms. Gilhart has been a significant force in the company's success but declines to disclose financial data. Barneys' holdings include five full-scale department stores, 14 co-ops, 11 outlets, a Web site and a licensing agreement with a Japanese company--and Ms. Gilhart's influence permeates all of them.

Independent bent

Born and raised in Dallas by her mother, aunt and grandmother, Ms. Gilhart, 49, left college at age 20 and became a buyer for Neiman Marcus. After five years, she rejected the department store career path for the life of an independent stylist, traveling the world to uncover trends and designers and returning with fresh ideas for magazine shoots.

In 1992, she reluctantly accepted an unsolicited job offer from Barneys to head up its expansion. ``I told them that I didn't like the corporate structure of a retail organization,'' Ms. Gilhart recalls. ``I liked the freedom and creativity and spontaneity of freelance work.''

As it turns out, she found the long leash she craved at Barneys. Ms. Gilhart has weathered the past decade of corporate expansions and contractions and is dealing with Barneys' pending sale to a Dubai-based investment fund.

Ms. Gilhart, who lives in the West Village with her 15-year-old Jack Russell terrier, supervises two people and maintains a hectic schedule of markets, fashion shows, and meetings with buyers and salespeople.

``My whole life is about discovery,'' Ms. Gilhart says. ``If I lived to 200, I still wouldn't get to do everything I want to.''

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