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InStyle’s Editor In Chief, The Inimitable Laura Brown Talks Creativity, Impact & DNA With Samir “Mr. Magazine™” Husni…The Mr. Magazine™ Video Cast….

November 19, 2020

“What we did create was a beautiful fantasy-like image that had an incredible composition and color, everybody was wearing fashion, but to me the value of it was the sense of community…” Laura Brown

Laura Brown is a force to be reckoned with and by association, so is the InStyle brand. Laura brings her passion, drive and incredible humor and vision to the InStyle platforms as only she can. I spoke with her recently and we had a fantastic conversation that was both informative and delightful. Just as Laura herself is. So, please enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ video cast with Laura Brown, editor in chief, InStyle. 

Laura Brown, editor in chief, InStyle magazine

But first here are the sound-bites:

On how InStyle has managed to retain its regular frequency of once a month even during a pandemic: It was a business decision made by fiscal folks. Our strength is our consistency, but for me, and I don’t determine how often we publish, but for me it was an editorial decision to be consistent and also it became a matter of stubbornness and pride that we kept going. And even though sometimes my team would give me some accessory layouts or something and I would ask what issue that was for and they’d say October and I’d be “another one,” (Laughs) it was a real point of pride for us.

On how she sees the DNA of InStyle reflected since she became editor in chief: When I got here, InStyle was a vastly different magazine. It was quite quiet, there were a lot of things to shop for and buy and it was all nice-looking, but it didn’t have the most resounding voice. Number one, I personally, like to be in the mix, in the conversation, in the culture, in whatever way you can be. But more importantly, three months after I started Trump was elected. You can do a nice shopping magazine through the Obama years, that’s a different scenario, but when something changes like that, where it changes the tenor of this country and globally, we can’t stick our head in the sand and say here’s a lady in a ball gown. You just can’t because we are media.

On believing that the magazine has a larger role than just being an escape from reality: It can be all of that. For example, a way to illustrate reality plus fantasy plus community would be the cover we did in Brooklyn in the apartment building which had all of these artists who lived together and I wanted to replicate that beautiful Ormond Gigli picture “Girls in the Windows” from 1960, I think it was. That is one of my favorite fashion images and it’s one that makes me swoon. Of course, during a pandemic I had to see if we could even do it. What we did create was a beautiful fantasy-like image that had an incredible composition and color, everybody was wearing fashion, but to me the value of it was the sense of community in New York City.

On where she feels she creates the most impact, in print, online, on social media: Hopefully it works on a number of different levels. For example, the cover we did with Dr. Fauci, which was a newsy, reactive cover, has been responsible for the biggest web traffic we’ve ever had, the most highly-trafficked cover ever, so four billion impressions. Bigger than Jennifer Aniston, and that’s saying something. 

On what makes her tick and click professionally: The most fulfilling thing for me or what makes me tick is people. The most gratifying thing about this job is working with people that I admire, having them show up for us, and executing an idea that I’ve had together. And to have that trust and to really collaborate and then hopefully put an image in a story, adding to the culture that really says something. 

On any stumbling blocks she may face: Just the mechanics of magazines, generally your page limits, your budget – we’re pretty good with the budget, I’ve never been someone who says there’s not enough money. I came from Harper’s Bazaar, we had to hustle, and I come from Australia where we really had to freaking hustle. 

On whether she has to make some tough decisions in her role as editor, especially as she mainstreams the magazine to reach a larger audience: What’s interesting is our website. When I got there I was surprised that it was sort of coming from behind, I actually thought our website should have been at a bigger audience when I got here, so that has been an uphill climb. The last two site directors have done a great job and it’s on the up and up, so that was a bit funny, like the website had jetlag, because again it was this kind of benign place. When I first got here they didn’t use street-style pictures, it was just so weird. It wasn’t like “in the world,” so I think we’d been under dogging from that angle. Not of late, because we’ve been getting so much attention.

On what she would hope to tell someone she had accomplished with InStyle one year from now: I work with sincerity, creativity and decency that is all too rare. That is sometimes not so visible in an industry that is so often resting on its laurels. That got pulled up from its bootstraps obviously over the summer, but we were already there. What I’m most proud of is all of that, but also consistency. 

On anything she’d like to add: It’s great. Everyone should subscribe and click. No, I hope anything I haven’t said is apparent when you read it. 

On whether she considers herself a journalist first and an editor second or she doesn’t differentiate between the two: I don’t differentiate, but what I often say is I’m a producer. I’m a producer and a host. That’s what an editor is these days. 

On what someone would find her doing if they showed up unexpectedly one evening at her home: After I’ve finished beating all my staff, (Laughs) I’m having a glass of wine and a bowl of spaghetti. And trying not to have a bowl of spaghetti every day. My ideal New York day, if I’m in town working, a good day in the office is really produce something great, the team is all batting 100 and I go for dinner at Barbuto restaurant, which is currently closed, at 6:00 p.m., get the Early Bird Special, have my spaghetti, have my wine, and go home, watch some Stephen Colbert, go to bed early. And then do it again.

On what comes to mind when she first opens her eyes in the morning: I go, “Okay.” I reach for the phone and kind of gird my loins, I guess. It’s very much like: Ready, Okay. Kind of like a cheerleader. 

On what keeps her up at night: Tequila. (Laughs) I love tequila, but if I go out and have a couple of tequilas, I do find it hard to sleep. I particular in my own brain. My brain takes a lot of time to  calm as I think any editor’s brain would. 

And now, without any further delay, enjoy the Mr. Magazine™ video cast with Laura Brown, editor in chief, InStyle magazine.

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