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Saks Fifth Avenue
7047 Friars Road, Fashion Valley
619-260-0030

The weighty swoosh of Saks Fifth Avenue's bronze and glass entry doors transports you from the bustling mall promenade into a shopping haven. A mood pervades Saks, reminiscent of the best department stores in London and Paris. The sales staff is courteous and nonintrusive; they neither ignore you nor fawn over you. Nor is there the sense that credit limits are sized up by the purse you carry. Private dressing rooms (not stalls) make you feel like money; mirrors are forgiving of blemishes and cellulite. The building itself has a pedigreed past. When Fashion Valley opened in 1969, the original tenant was Buffum's, as in Dorothy Buffum Chandler of Los Angeles Times fame. Ladies who lunched will recall the Ballast Room, a posh, cocktail-powered restaurant on Buffum's second floor, where models strolled around the room in furs and haute couture fashions. Buffum's and the Ballast Room were closed in the 1980s. Nevertheless, Saks carries on the elegance.

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