Written by Nell Alk. Photo #1 by Bridget Laudien. Photo #3 by Erin Yamagata.
Like the beautiful, innovative, animal-friendly winter coats she makes via her fashion label Vaute Couture, anyone who knows her (and even the legions of fans who technically don’t) can see—can feel—the warmth, the vibrance, the compassion of Leanne Mai-Ly Hilgart. Amidst a glow like that, and because she makes it all look so natural and effortless, it’s easy to overlook Leanne’s most remarkable quality—her resilience.
She’s singlehandedly raised an indie fashion label, where the workload today is always too much and tomorrow promises an increase. Add to that the capital-intensive nature of the fashion biz and the often monumental challenges of both doing and convincing other people to do the right thing, as Leanne does with her animal-honoring policies and messaging, and we’re only beginning to appreciate her accomplishments and vexations. “I’ve been doing this by myself for three-and-a-half years and I outgrew [that aspect] before I even launched the label [in 2009]. This fall/winter season in particular nearly killed me.”
It also made her stronger. She and VC turned a huge corner this month with the unveiling of the label’s first boutique, called Vaute Here, in trendsetting Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Opening a store is the milestone that officially declares any fashion label’s legitimacy to (or, perhaps in VC’s case, at) the fashion establishment. Read More…