When we say Laura Brown, executive editor of
has a big personality, we're deeply underselling her. The Aussie transplant is one of the most charismatic style stars around — so much so that the mag granted her her very own online series. But behind her playful sense of humor, Brown is one seriously savvy editor, with wardrobe chops that rival any masthead's.
We caught up with the fantastically quirky editor at Harper's sky-high, glass-encased HQ to comb through the fashion closet, pick her brain on all her favorite designers, and have a good laugh over her flawlessly executed zingers. What ensued was not only a magazine-lover's dream come true (yes, the HB fashion closet really is that good), but a feel-good afternoon for anyone who appreciates a smart woman. Click through for Brown's best tips for succeeding in life and fashion, and why everyone should don a little Dior.
Photographed by Mark Iantosca
Walk us through a day in the life of Laura Brown.
"A noble morning: Trainer and a post-workout sense of smugness. A typical morning: Twitter, Instagram, and late out of bed. Then, depending on where I am, either the office, a shoot — a cover or one of BAZAAR
's art/fashion/pop-culture portfolios — or a taping of The Look
. Sometimes I do all of that in one, which is the reason why I think 6:30 p.m. is a completely appropriate time to have dinner."
Cecile T-shirt, Ann Demeulemeester pants, Ralph Lauren shoes, Valentino bag.
What do you need at the close of a day to feel like it was a success?
"To have done something creative and unexpected — and been nice to people."
What's the biggest challenge in your day-to-day job at HB?
"The relentlessness, but that's also the best thing."
What's the most rewarding thing about your job?
"To be able to have the maddest idea, involving the world's most gifted people (designers, actors, or artists) and have them actually turn up to do it. I still can't believe they will come to shoot something that flashed into my head one night when I couldn't sleep."
What do you love about producing your show, The Look
"I'm just so enthusiastic about the people I'm with. The first time we did it, I just called all my friends up. But now I sometimes use perfect strangers and see if I can get people to be complicit in what I'm doing. The good news is people seem to like it, and we seem to be going above and beyond and getting big people [to sign on]."
What's the best advice you ever received early on in your career?
"It's not really advice, but more a way of living, from my late Dad, Richard. He could walk into any room, anywhere, and get on with everyone. I hope that a little bit of that rubbed off on me."
Christian Dior top, Frame Denim jeans, Ralph Lauren shoes.
What's the best advice you WISH you'd gotten, but didn't?
"That if the dress doesn't make it through customs, no one is going to die. (Actually, I never thought anyone was going to die)."
How do you deal with the time commitment of such a demanding job? Are there any sacrifices you've had to make?
"There's a lot of travel, and sometimes I don't see my friends for a few weeks, but that's compensated by my adolescent thrill about doing what I do. I love the mobility of it, too."
What is your favorite item in your closet?
"My dad's watch that he gave me, and I also love this jacket because it's so money. But, most of the time I'm just in jeans and a shirt...if somebody sends me a pair of jeans, I think it's like Jesus has arrived. That said, I love that you can take on a different identity with every outfit you wear. When I put on Dior I'm suddenly The Woman Who Wears Dior."
Acne jacket, Jil Sander for Uniqlo shirt, J Brand jeans, Manolo Blahnik shoes.
What do you do in your down time when you want to unwind from your crazy job?
"Sleep. Eat spaghetti. See my friends. Make them eat spaghetti, too."
What are your big goals from here?
"Along with the day job, I'd like to see where The Look goes. There's so much potential with the show, and I have some great collaborators in mind. Fashion can be amusing, you know."
What's the one fashion or beauty essential that's most important to summer in NYC?
"Caudalie Beauty Elixir. Put it in the fridge!"
What's the biggest fashion mistake you've ever made?
"What are you implying? I have looked perfect since birth! Or...probably my entire three years of college — thank God grunge was in."
What do you miss most about Aussie style, that you don't get in NYC?
"The color and simplicity of it. I think Josh Goot
really encapsulates the best of Aussie style right now. I call him Gootles, and you should, too."
Bottega Veneta dress.
What's the one fall '13 piece you're most looking forward to buying?
"In my real life or dream life? In my dream life, Givenchy floral skirts, and many of them. Also that fantastic, clear, globe bag from Chanel. In real life, I'll probably borrow both."
Whose style do you admire most?
"I would like to permanently look the way Rosie Huntington-Whiteley does at the airport."