When spotlighting labels, it's quite important to me to acknowledge a vast array of designers,
individuals, and ideas- from large to small, from local to international, from massively recognizable to obscure.
Right around the corner from my apartment, on Grand street, style and heart, merge into the icon that is Vaute Couture, not only a New York design team, but a Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based emerging apparel and accessories line.
At age twelve, Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart, the founder of Vaute Couture, sold the title of her Social Studies Fair Project (on Vivisection, the Fur Industry and Factory Farming), “Being Cruel Isn’t Cool” to a national t-shirt company. Eighteen years later, Hilgart’s dedication to activism and her desire to create innovative fabrics, have culminated in New York Fashion Week’s first 100% all vegan, cruelty-free showing by an independent fashion house and the designer’s first ready-to-wear collection.
Hilgart launched Vaute Couture in 2008, when she sought to fill a glaring void in the fashion industry, leading to the production of a stylish all-vegan dress coat that could withstand the harsh winter season. Although predominantly favoring outwear and accessories for both men and women in the past, this Vaute collection consisted of the line’s statement coats, of course, but also playful dresses, chunky men’s sweaters and patched blazers and even unisex overalls.
In front of a packed showroom, models accessorized by metallic footwear and sticker face-art, showcased a group of rescue dogs, which were available for adoption. The Williamsburg-based designer’s true passion: actively fighting against the fashion industry’s use and abuse of animals, was clearly the foundation of the show in every aspect: from the animal-free makeup by DeVita, to the Humane Society and Brooklyn BadAss Rescue’s leashed dogs waltzing around the showroom, to the Vegan Treats cupcakes served to onlookers.
|Photos courtesy of USNews|
Hilgart noted the influence of the anime character Sailor Moon in created this collection, but seemed to reference this only in understated detailing of tops and dresses—cut-out hearts and stars plus the addition of girly bows—and the whimsical face-art the models donned. The varying textures of the pieces, including faux-suede and thick faux-wool, showed incredible innovation in terms of design, and the crowd seemed not only interested but excited about the vegan apparel movement. Hilgart’s cause is noble and just, and with her focus on continuing to develop functional apparel and accessories, I think that she will continue to find an audience for her creations. Keep an eye out.