Vaute Couture

Neighborhood: Williamsburg
Type of Place: Women's Clothing


"Animals are my friends," says designer Leanne Mai-Ly Hilgart, who heads up design line Vaute Couture, "and I don't wear my friends... Together [within the company], we are here to give animals a voice in the fashion industry."

When I heard that Vaute Couture would be opening a shop in Brooklyn, I knew I had to be there. Animals are my friends, too, and I take their treatment entirely to heart.

The opening day did not let me down. I loved Hilgart, whose passion for animals and for her creations is very apparent. I loved the shop's space, which is appointed with reclaimed and repurposed items (a mantel is used for the cashier counter; a light box has become a dressing room; and school lockers have new life as display shelves). I even loved writing out a wish and watching a store employee fold my paper into an Origami star; the stars will be placed around the shop.

And the clothes? Well, I loved them, too. Hilgart primarily makes coats, and they are beautiful. Everything in the shop (and the line) is entirely animal-product free—which is amazing in itself and certainly amazing in the creation of warm outerwear. But Hilgart has done it. The Oru (a hip-length style with cape shoulders, available in "soft black") is currently on sale for $185; and the Alicia (named for actress and noted Vegan Alicia Silverstone), a mid-length peacoat, comes in red, ivory, or a gorgeous green and is now on sale for $225.

I wanted every necklace on display, many of which are collaborations between Hilgart and designer Christy Robinson. One, a heart made of recycled aluminum on a silver chain ($27.50), says "No Animals Harmed" on one side and "In the making of" on the other. Another, featuring a sheep and a heart, was inspired by an e. e. cummings poem: "i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)."

The t-shirts ("V is for Vegan," "For the Love of Dog, Adopt" and, perhaps my favorite because it's exactly how I feel, "I Can't Even Look at You in That Fur") are fabulous and $26. And then there are the knits (hats, scarves, etc.). The shop's website explains they are "100% soy yarn, from the waste of soybean farming, and handknit by NYC artists." Well, that is incredible, and so are these items. A pink headband, $48, will see you through the rest of spring and pick right up again in fall.

The shop is environmental, the materials are cruelty-free, and everything here, including the designer, is quite wonderful. What more could we want? Wear this stuff proudly—compliments will roll in, but more important, the animals will know that you do indeed carry them in your heart.
  - Pamela Grossman 5/13/2012

Vaute Couture
234 Grand Street (at Driggs)
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Hours: 1-8 daily; closed Mondays

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