Joanna Coles invites 15 Washington women to ‘Cosmo 100′ lunch

In the past year, the New York-based editor of Cosmopolitan–that splashy monthly compendium of sex and celebs, health and beauty–has made a dozen or so forays down the tracks to the far less fashionable city of Washington DC.


Joanna Coles (Photo by Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

Just last Wednesday, for example, Joanna Coles made a quick trip to the nation’s capital to speak at Politico’s “Women Rule” event.

The goal? Coles wants to ensure that her magazine is not only sexy but smart and topical, as Laura Sessions Stepp put it in a recent Style profile. And that’s meant getting into bed with people (many of them women) known for being smart and topical rather than sexy–those involved in the political powerplay over issues affecting women, from domestic violence to equal pay and contraception.

Sarah Jessica Parker & Amy Powell, President Paramount Television, Insurge Pictures & Digital Entertainment at the 'Cosmo 100' lunch on Monday Dec. 9 in New York City. (Allie Kircher/ Courtesy of Cosmopolitan) Sarah Jessica Parker & Amy Powell, President Paramount Television, Insurge Pictures & Digital Entertainment at the “Cosmo 100″ lunch on Monday December 9 in New York City. (Allie Kircher/ Courtesy of Cosmopolitan)

Now Coles is bringing a taste of DC to New York.  On her guest list for a “Cosmo 100″ lunch Monday in Midtown were not only actresses  (Sarah Jessica Parker) and fashion designers (Tamara Mellon) but about 15 Washington women committed to the weightier issues of the world, including Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar, Jeanne Shaheen  and Kirsten Gillibrand: Congresswomen Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Tulsi Gabbard, as well as Emily’s List president Stephanie Schriock, lobbyist Heather Podesta and arts patron Adrienne Arscht.

Why do they come?

Klobuchar allowed that  she once aspired to write for Cosmo and submitted an article. After that didn’t work out, she went to law school.

The invitation won Shaheen credibility with her daughter, she said.

And both senators echoed a theme of the lunch–that it was all about “women getting in leadership positions” and “electing a lot more women”

It’s the second such lunch Coles has hosted–a flashier version of a tradition established  by former Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown who apparently liked to chew over the topic du jour in more intimate settings with women from all walks of life.

Joanna Coles and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) (Allie Kircher/ Courtesy of Cosmopolitan) Joanna Coles and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) at the “Cosmo 100″ lunch. (Allie Kircher/ Courtesy of Cosmopolitan)

Coles, who’s been at the helm for a little more than a year, clearly relishes the opportunity to expand her magazine’s definition of “women’s issues.” It hasn’t been bad for business, either. Cosmo was just named AdWeek’s hottest mag of the year.

Frances Stead Sellers is senior writer at The Washington Post magazine. She joined the magazine in 2014 after spending two years as the editor of the daily Style section, with a focus on profiles, personalities, arts and ideas.
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