WEEK AFTER WEEK PEOPLE FEATURES stars who seem born with flawless genes, nonstop metabolisms and totally tasteful living rooms. But out of camera range is the army of makeup artists and hairstylists, personal trainers and decorators who burnish raw material to perfection. Why, thought senior editor Elizabeth Sporkin, can't the rest of us tap those same forces? Thus was born our special summer Makeover issue (on newsstands July 11), conceived by Sporkin and executive editor Susan Toepfer and dedicated to the proposition that picking a bridesmaid's dress that flatters six friends (one pregnant) in Des Moines is as serious a problem as finding a stylish new look for a TV series in Hollywood.

"I've always loved makeover stories," says Sporkin, who came to PEOPLE four years ago as a style writer. "Most magazines are fantasy. You're forced to identify with 13-year-old models in $20,000 dresses or countesses redecorating their castles. We're showing real people doing realistic things on a realistic budget."

So Makeover helped a young woman choose an outfit to impress her future mother-in-law, arranged startlingly different coiffures for a pair of twins and gave a Manhattan living room a dramatic facelift for under $500. Of course stars get repolished too. The issue's cover girl. Linda Gray, introduces a softer, blonde look for her glamorous role in the new Fox TV series Models Inc., and talk show host Ricki Lake tells how she made herself half the 250-lb. woman she used to be—and twice the star. "Most people become blind to what they see in the mirror even' day," says Sporkin. "A makeover is the chance to be seen by a fresh set of eyes."