Photo by Anthony TwoMoons


“Hilgart is the rebel of Fashion Week. Animal free clothes make runway history.” CNN BREAKING NEWS

“No one missed the leather-or the fur. Hilgart is paving a way for future compassionate designers.” U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT

“Leanne is a Game Changer- embodying Courage, Conviction, & Creativity” CONDE NAST & THE MAZDA6 CAMPAIGN

“One of the most innovative businesses in NYC” BUSINESS INSIDER

“Vaute Couture proves that compassionate animal friendly fashion can be cute, chic, and sexy.”

Hilgart is a “Badass business woman, informative and inspiring”

“We can’t think of a better way to keep warm this winter.” TEEN VOGUE

“Vegan clothes that non vegans love.... a Game Changer” LUCKY MAGAZINE

“Vaute Couture is the 2011 COMPANY OF THE YEAR.”  VEGNEWS MAGAZINE

“I love these styles, I love even more what this company stands for.” ALICIA SILVERSTONE, actress & Bestselling Author of The Kind Diet

“Leanne proves time and time and time again that fashion can be conscious and cutting edge in the same breath.”  RORY FREEDMAN, Author of the NYT Bestseller Skinny Bitch



Spelled for Haute Couture with a V for Vegan, but said like VOTE—VAUTE is an independent fashion house by Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart whose raison d’etre is to develop apparel and fabrics that are better than wearing animals ever could be. In the fall of 2008, Leanne quit her modeling contract with Ford Models and her full ride MBA at DePaul University to dedicate herself to creating the future of fashion- with a personal mission to take animals out of the fashion equation, she gave her all to create something better for all. She started with a mission to create the perfect winter dress coat, inspired by a lifetime of bitterly cold Chicago winters. With 8 months of fabric R&D, and community voted on designs, the first VAUTE collection was at once HIGH ETHICS: vegan, made of recyclable and recycled fibers, and produced locally, HIGH FUNCTION: warmer than wool, windproof, snow resistant, rain resistant, and heat retaining, and HIGH DESIGN: with the look and feel of a winter dress coat, but kinder to the world, and yourself, for those bitter cold days.

The line launched in summer of 2009 in the depth of the recession, to hundreds of preorders from customers who had never seen the coats in person, most of which had never met Leanne, and would wait months before receiving them. This proof of concept allowed Leanne to produce her custom fabrics with the same cutting edge mills that work with Patagonia and North Face. Her recipe for the perfect coat married the warmth and protection of performance fabrics but with the luxe textures and cuts of dress coats. Her entire first production run was funded by her earliest supporters.

In 2010 Leanne fell for NYC and moved herself and her rescue Whitman as well as the local production to NYC’s garment district.  In early 2012 she opened her first store in Williamsburg, on a whim. It was the best decision she’s ever made. In February 2013, VAUTE broke history as the first all vegan label to show at New York Fashion Week, with our first full RTW collection. CNN covered it as “Animal free clothes break runway history.” Soon after, BusinessInsider named VAUTE one of the most innovative businesses in NYC, and US News & World Report said of our opening show, “No one missed the leather- or the fur.” Vaute is growing quickly and Leanne is constantly working on new innovations in fabric & apparel design to focus on taking animals out of the fashion equation, to create a better future in fabrics & design in fashion.


Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart

Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart is “the Rebel of Fashion Week” (CNN Breaking News), “A Game Changer- embodying courage, conviction, and creativity” (Conde Nast & Mazda’s Mazda6 Campaign), “1 of 40 Redefining Green” ( “the vegan scene queen, a badass businesswoman—informative & inspiring” (Bust Magazine) and Alicia Silverstone’s Kind Fashion Expert on  

Known as the artist in the class, at 8 she ran her first campaign for animals by coordinating friends to create arts & crafts they sold door to door to raise money and awareness for homeless animals at the local shelter. At 12 she took the title of her Social Studies Fair Project (on Vivisection, the Fur Industry, and Factory Farming), “Being Cruel Isn’t Cool,” and sold it to a national tee shirt company. Later she waged a campaign against cat dissection at her high school, which soon helped push a bill into law in IL that required alternatives to be given to all students. A year out of school, Leanne soon gave up on her college degree career path—teaching—and spent the next few years among a couple of seemingly unrelated careers: developing grassroots marketing strategies at and for other companies while modeling with Ford Models in Chicago and on contracts in Asia. During this time she realized that business was an amazing opportunity to create positive change through every aspect of the process. She just needed to figure out where she was needed most. It was on her contract in Hong Kong that she discovered that a winter dress coat which was at once warm, stunning, & vegan did not yet exist—and realized that cold weather clothes were the last excuse to wear animals so she could aim to eliminate our dependency as a society on wearing animals if she focused on developing something better than wool or down.
Without a background in fashion, but with a love for ballet class silhouettes, 50’s & 80’s vintage, jewel tones, origami, and a deep excitement to create art again, and most importantly- the animals in her heart, she started VAUTE.  Her reading list that summer included Rules for Revolutionaries by Guy Kawasaki and How to be Lovely, the Audrey Hepburn Story—both of which inspired the birth & brand of her company, Vaute Couture, which she started that September, of 2008.