She went from editing society news for a Fort Lauderdale weekly to becoming the fashion director at Niche Media, which houses publications like Gotham, Hamptons, and Los Angeles Confidential, and enjoying the front row access that goes with it. Laurie Brookins has experienced New York Fashion Week since it made its formal debut in the 1990s. Now we look forward to catching up with her and picking her brain between shows in the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge. Even those who aren’t lucky enough to chat with Brookins over a glass of bubbly can enjoy her incisive observations, which she shares freely from her @StyleWriterNYC handle. We caught up with Brookins to find out about her earliest NYFW memories, how she got her start in the industry, and how she feels about pesky seat stealers at fashion shows.
Tell us about your first fashion week experience ever:
I’m one of the old-timers who’s been going to the tents since the first season in Bryant Park in 1993; I have hazy memories of shows all over NY in random venues prior to that, but attending the whole week really gelled for me with the 7th on Sixth consolidation in Bryant Park. When the tents left the park in 2010 to move to Lincoln Center, I was really emotional about it. At Tommy Hilfiger, the last show in Bryant Park, Fern Mallis was standing at the exit, and I was one of those who was all teary-eyed and hugging her. Lincoln Center and the whole neighborhood have been so great, though; seems silly now to have been emotional about it.
When you’re sitting at a show, what inspires you to tweet?
So many things: On the runway, a dress simply because it’s great, or something that has quickly emerged as a trend, an amazing bag or pair of shoes (Twitter followers are endlessly obsessed with shoes), or a gorgeous beauty look. Off the runway, a celeb who’s turned up as long as I’m not caught in the middle of some wild scrum, or before the show a great quote from the designer if it’s included in his or her show notes; or sometimes it’s just something funny or absurd that you’ve overheard. People say the most insane things in a fashion-show audience. And finally, sometimes it’s just fun to be a fashion cop and call out someone’s behavior, like a seat-stealer. But that’s usually later in the week when I’m tired and a little cranky about the seat-stealers (P.S., they really do get a little worse, a little more bold, each season.)
Where will you be wining and dining this season?
Like I said, Bryant Park is a distant memory now, because there are so many great choices in the Lincoln Center neighborhood. Bar Boulud, Cafe Fiorello, Rosa Mexicano, the Empire Hotel Rooftop, and Stone Rose Lounge are all favorites — and then the Mercedes-Benz Star Lounge, of course; such a great chance to catch up with friends you mainly see during Fashion Week, or do a quick blog post on a show, all amid a beautiful environment that’s so much less frenzied than the tent lobby. For shows downtown, I’d say the Gansevoort or the Standard — what can I say? I like the classics.
What was your first job in the fashion industry?
My first full-time fashion job was as Fashion Editor of the Palm Beach Daily News; prior to that I’d been the co-editor of a weekly society section for the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, and fashion was included in that coverage, though it was more along the lines of covering fashion-show luncheon and fundraisers, that type of thing. Then again, it opened amazing doors for me: Audrey Hepburn came to Fort Lauderdale in 1992 for a UNICEF benefit, and I actually got to interview her about Givenchy. It was an incredible foundation, and I will always treasure that experience.