We're pleased to celebrate the first spring of what promises to be a liberating new decade with a special issue on style—and the people who create it. For 16 springs now, reporting on style has been a pivotal part of PEOPLE'S beat—our very heartbeat. Today the subject still seems to us as broad and inviting as any we cover. Style is a refreshing, sometimes rebellious, reflection of how people are living and what they're thinking right now. It's the raising of a hemline or an eyebrow or a ruckus. It's decor and decorum. It's how we exercise and what we get exercised about. It's of the moment, but it recognizes enduring values such as mutual consideration and saving the environment.

While we aim to keep readers ahead of the game and on top of their own, PEOPLE has never been a magazine that dictates or prescribes, and we're not going to start now. We will continue to display all of your glorious panoply of up-to-the-minute options with a reporter's sense of story and detail. Holly Holden, the picture editor of this special issue, made a point of assigning photojournalists rather than fashion specialists to our coverage. "They were working in unfamiliar territory," she says, "and that made for fresh ways of seeing the subject." Karen Schneider, the chief fashion writer, saw her mission as not to create "a how-to on hip but rather to inspire readers to discover—and trust—their own sense of style." Senior writer Louise Lague, who was instrumental in planning the issue, reminded her colleagues that "many of our readers are at an age when they're finished experimenting and just want to create a life-style that's right for them. The decade's theme is Do Your Own Thing, but this time it's with an eye to what's really going to work for you and for the people around you." In fact, to reemphasize the relevance of those very personal decisions to readers' lives, the weekly magazine has just instituted a new monthly feature titled Style Watch, which will cover pop cultural trends.

As we put this PEOPLE Extra together, the Berlin Wall came down, Nelson Mandela was freed, and the Soviet Communist Party stopped playing monopoly. Though we were embroiled in the surgings of fashion, food and art, we had the exhilarating feeling that the world of style and the world of realpolitik were moving into sync. The creators we interviewed spoke of freedom and human possibility no less than did the courageous people quoted on each morning's front page. It made our task exciting. We hope this special issue will make that excitement contagious.