InStyle editor in chief Laura Brown

SYDNEY — Laura Brown has been awarded the top honor at the annual Australian Fashion Laureate Awards in Sydney.

Revealed at a function at Café Sydney on Wednesday, the Australian Fashion Laureate is bestowed each year on an Australian fashion figure in recognition of outstanding career achievement.

Unable to make it down for the event, Brown made an appearance via a pre-recorded video. “I’ve been gone 18 years now and just to be recognized by home, by people who I love and a place that formed this little gal, I’m so deeply, deeply honored,” she told WWD by phone from the U.S. “In my industry there’s a lot of stuff [accolades] thrown around willy-nilly a lot of the time and I know that this isn’t and it really means a lot to me because of that, because it feels serious and it feels appreciative.”

Born in Australia, but based in New York since 2001, Brown spent 11 years at Harper’s Bazaar, before her appointment as InStyle editor in chief in 2016.

Brown has retained close ties to the Australian fashion industry. She was a founding board member of the Australian Fashion Foundation, which was cofounded in 2009 by two other Australian expatriates, New York-based publicist Malcolm Carfrae — who was another finalist for the 2019 Australian Fashion Laureate — and VFiles founder Julie Anne Quay to provide international internship opportunities for Australian fashion graduates.

Brown frequently also supports Australian brands in her Instagram feed, posting photos of herself wearing labels such as Zimmermann, Spell & The Gypsy Collective and Wardrobe.NYC.


The awards were launched by Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia organizer IMG in 2008 and are voted on by a 30-plus member industry panel.

Previous Australian Fashion Laureates have included designers Dion Lee and Toni Maticevski, MBFWA founder Simon Lock and Vogue Australia editor in chief Edwina McCann.

For the awards’ eight other categories, Lee Mathews won Best Australian Womenswear, while Best Australian Menswear went to Double Rainbouu, which is designed by Mikey Nolan and Toby Jones.

Matteau Swim, which is designed by sisters Ilona Hamer and Peta Heinsen and was a buyer favorite at this year’s MBFWA, took the Best Australian Emerging Talent category.

Bassike won Best Australian Retailer and Sarah & Sebastian, Best Australian Accessories.

Indigenous Australian model Charlee Fraser won Model of the Year, with the Outstanding Creative award going to Vogue and GQ Australia creative director Jillian Davison.

Melbourne-based Elk received the Sustainable Innovation award, which was introduced this year.

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