“Laura Brown brings women together,” said Kat Graham, the actress. That was evident last Thursday night when Ms. Brown, the former editor in chief of InStyle, collected her favorite female friends and collaborators for a dinner with Nordstrom to celebrate International Women’s Month.
Ms. Brown’s laugh — loud and performative, but not insincere — could be heard throughout the 62nd floor of 70 Pine Street, in the private rooms of the Saga restaurant in Lower Manhattan, as she embraced every guest who crossed the threshold. It’s a laugh that bursts forth unabashedly, whether she is talking to Hollywood stars, fashion arbiters or her gal pals.
“I’m having a jolly time,” said Ms. Brown, who wore a black Khaite jumpsuit (by the designer Catherine Holstein, who was in attendance) and sparkling Loeffler Randall heels. “We’re here because it’s Women’s History Month, which I laugh at, because what, we can’t have a year?”
At this stage of the pandemic, with the lifting of masks restrictions still fresh, partygoers had to toe a line. “I think tonight’s about being in a room without a mask on and beginning to see a little bit of sunshine,” said Cindi Leive, the activist and former Glamour editor. But, she added, “I guess you don’t want the spew of venom about anti-abortion laws, anti-trans laws, voter suppression and the rollback of life as we know it. I’m here for the sunshine, I swear.”
There was also the uncomfortable fact that Ms. Brown left InStyle in February, a day after the magazine’s owner, Dotdash Meredith, declared that it was going digital, another blow to an already decimated fashion magazine industry.
“They do still matter, they do,” said Rickie De Sole, a former Vogue editor, who is now a fashion and editorial director for Nordstrom, of print magazines.
The end of InStyle’s print version left others feeling nostalgic. “I used to get on planes and buy a stack of magazines,” said Helena Christensen, the longtime model. What does she bring now? “I watch movies,” she said.
As guests took their seats, Ms. Brown went from table to table, talking selfies and making introductions. Her laughter seemed contagious, as guests mingled and networked. Julia von Boehm, a stylist, chatted with Ms. Holstein and landed a Khaite dress for her client, Laura Dern. Ms. Holstein also gave a reporter a scoop: She is hoping to open a store in Lower Manhattan.
As guests dined on fillets of beef and bass, Sherrie Westin, the president of Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind “Sesame Street,” stood up and toasted Ms. Brown. “Everybody here knows what a special connector she is,” Ms. Westin said, before sharing something they probably didn’t know. When U.S. forces pulled out of Afghanistan last year, Ms. Brown helped to evacuate Afghan employees who had worked on the local version of “Sesame Street”: “Without Laura’s connections, 28 people would not have been saved,” Ms. Westin said.
Ms. Brown thanked Ms. Westin and all the attendees profusely, before returning to form. “Anyway, back to your drinking,” she said.