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When Women Ran Fifth Avenue

A glittering portrait of the golden age of American department stores and of three visionary women who led them, from the award-winning author of The Plaza.

The twentieth century American department store: a palace of consumption where every wish could be met under one roof – afternoon tea, a stroll through the latest fashions, a wedding (or funeral) planned. It was a place where women, shopper and shopgirl alike, could stake out a newfound independence. Whether in New York or Chicago or on Main Street, USA, men owned the buildings, but inside, women ruled.

In this hothouse atmosphere, three women rose to the top. In the 1930s, Hortense Odlum of Bonwit Teller came to her husband's department store as a housewife tasked with attracting more shoppers like herself, and wound up running the company. Dorothy Shaver of Lord & Taylor championed American designers during World War II--before which US fashions were almost exclusively Parisian copies--becoming the first businesswoman to earn a $1 million salary. And in the 1960s Geraldine Stutz of Henri Bendel re-invented the look of the modern department store. With a preternatural sense for trends, she inspired a devoted following of ultra-chic shoppers as well as decades of copycats. Hardcover, 320 pages.

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