top of page


Bille Miró Breskin

Brown Fashion Week began on Monday, March 8 with an interview featuring none other than the inimitable Laura Brown, former editor in chief of InStyle and executive director of Harper's Bazaar. In a conversation with RISD Graphic Design student Emma Noel, Brown, who hails from Australia, spoke about her nearly three-decade-long career, touching on everything from her first experiences at runway shows to the future of fashion journalism. 

The interview began with an overview of how Brown got her start in the fashion world. She first worked at an Australian family-oriented magazine while in her final year of Charles Sturt University, finishing her senior year by correspondence so that she could get a head start on her career.

In the late 90s, Brown moved to London, working her way into fashion shows and slowly but surely climbing the ladder in the fashion journalism business. She spoke about the feeling of being new and unknown in an environment where people tended toward unkindness. Luckily, Brown added, the industry is a nicer place now than it was then, but she maintained that her positive attitude and warmth helped her go far. Being “the gal who is the nice one, the funny one” was the best currency she had. “People will give you more if they feel the rapport with you,” she added, citing the trust people give her as what she is most grateful for in her career. 

While working with or interviewing big names can be intimidating, Brown encouraged viewers to “be enthusiastic, know that your personality is enough… there’s nothing cooler than enthusiasm in my book because you bring people along with you.” Confidence is key, she advised: “not everyone is smarter than you. If you have an engaging personality you can draw people out because they’re happy to talk to you.”

This mentality has gotten Brown far, landing her jobs from the executive director position at Harper’s Bazaar to the role of editor in chief at InStyle. She has consistently pushed the status quo, committed to creating content that reflects the world at large, not just elements of style or aesthetics. At InStyle, Brown cultivated a distinct point of view for the magazine, exemplified by its August issue, which featured U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, on the cover. Brown took notice of Haaland when she was sworn into office and immediately recognized that her story needed to be told to a wide audience. The cover was monumental, a moment of proud representation that was recognized just last week with an ASME award. Throughout her time at InStyle, Brown strove to paint a fuller picture of women who should be celebrated, putting, in her words, “a bit of vitamin in the honey.”

Despite Brown’s prominence in the fashion world, she is still exploring what success means to her. InStyle terminated its production of print issues a few weeks ago, an example of the rapid changes that characterize both the fashion and journalism industries. After the closure, Brown told her staff; “Your equity goes nowhere. Your equity is yours, what you’ve done is yours. We left nothing on the field, there’s everything to be proud of.” This sage reassurance speaks to Brown’s empathy and acute understanding of what it means to hold self-worth in a challenging and competitive industry. She added, “Your value is not associated with who you work for or where you work. You create your own relevancy and then you give it to where you work.” 

Reflecting on success, Brown ultimately imparted that it is “owning what you do” and “mobility,” and that it “comes from voice… if you don’t have a voice you don’t have shit.” This no-nonsense meditation on what it is to “make it” is immensely refreshing, coming at a time when the size of a paycheck or social media statistics often dominates conversations around achievement. 

What’s next? Brown isn’t sure yet. Maybe TV, quite possibly a return to podcasting. She predicts a rise in subscriber-based magazines and individual publication platforms like Substack where journalists have equity. She acknowledges that magazines both are linchpins of their digital enterprises and lack movement and reactivity. While she may no longer work in traditional magazines, one thing is for certain when it comes to Brown’s future. As she told Noel, “I will always, whatever I do, want to create images.”

bottom of page