By  on June 15, 2007

The first time I tried to surf, a strong current propelled my board so fast toward the beach that I hit sand before I ever had a chance to stand up. After several failed attempts and swallowing more than my share of seawater, I made a last-ditch effort to accomplish my mission. As a new wave took form and I paddled to catch it, the earth suddenly seemed to stop spinning. For a moment, everything played out in slow motion and I somehow, calmly and quietly, found time to push myself up onto my feet and ride all the way in to shore.Athletes refer to this phenomenon as “being in the zone.” And if any major executive today knows the feeling, it would be Susan Arnold. Named president of all Procter & Gamble business units just last month, she now runs a $75 billion-a-year empire. Increasingly, beauty sales account for a significant share of that pie. And it’s no secret: She is maneuvering P&G in a bid to overtake L’Oréal as the largest cosmetics company in the world.But what’s most interesting about Arnold is not that she’s determined to win the race, but that in the process of getting to the finish line, she is profoundly changing the game. Right before going on maternity leave this summer, Jenny B. Fine traveled to P&G headquarters in Cincinnati to talk strategy with this dynamic leader.On the subject of change, Pete Born writes eloquently in this issue about the continuing erosion of department store dominance in America and where even the big guns, including L’Oréal, Lauder, Dior and Arden, are now taking some of their business. The Internet and television are just two of several enterprising options.Given the retail sea change, Molly Prior has gathered five innovative merchants from every channel of trade for an insightful panel discussion on how they are staying ahead of the curve.If only it were as easy as launching the next “It” bag. In between meeting all her deadlines for Women’s Wear Daily, Sharon Edelson examines why beauty marketers don’t emulate their fashion counterparts and churn out status items at sky-rocketing prices, season after season.Well, maybe washing in and out with the tide is not the way to go anyhow. For brands seeking long-term relationships with their consumers, Michelle Edgar gets guidance from mentors of FIT’s graduating class.Believe it or not, looking washed-out is in for fall. A so-cool-it’s-cold pallor, paired with either dark eyes or bold lips, is a surprisingly strong trend among those spotted on the runways and showcased in these pages.More fabulous, hair-raising news: Photographer Guy Aroch snaps standout styles by ever-inventive mane man Oribe. And Megan McIntyre rounds up every hair color product on the market for this month’s It List.It’s all to dye for. So, happy reading! I’m going surfing.

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