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VauteCouture: A Chicago Fashion Experiment

A Chicago fashion “experiment” is seeking SAIC students to design their first line of glamorous, conscientious Chicago winter coats.

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A New Chicago Fashion Project Challenges SAIC Students to Sketch the Perfect Winter Coat

Now through October 7th, a new Chicago fashion venture is looking to SAIC students and anyone else with a passion for fashion to design their first line of glamorous, conscientious Chicago winter coats. Vaute Couture Inc. was founded by Chicago resident Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart, a DePaul MBA, who aims to combine her two passions, fashion and advocacy. Mai-ly Hilgart, who says she has been working for animals since childhood, has been modeling since 2003 with Ford Models in Chicago, Hong Kong, and Taipei. Mai-ly Hilgart explains the experiment was born of her desire to create “something fabulous, conscientious (good to the animals, the Earth, people), and warm enough for a Chicago winter” which she adds, “is very important to me since like most Chicagoans, I’m seen in my winter coat at least a third of the entire year!”

The company’s name is spelled for “Haute Couture” (High Fashion) “with a V for vegan,” but spoken as “Vote,” which Mai-ly Hilgart states is “our right to voice how we want the world to be through each choice we make, sacred & profane, fashion & food…”

Her plan is simple. A single coat sketch and some biographical information are all it takes for people to enter their design into the contest, which covers three categories of coats: the Vaute, a classic pea coat, the El, a longer Chicago glam coat, and the Awe, a special events haute couture coat.

Entries will be narrowed down by a panel of judges, then winning artwork will be chosen online through open voting, currently scheduled for October 14th-21st. The winner of each category will each receive a $1000 cash prize and be showcased on the site.

After the winning sketches are chosen, coat designs inspired by these concepts will be created with environmentally friendly, vegan materials and then constructed fair trade by tailors in Chicago.

Finally, all proceeds from one of the three coats, called the Vaute Coat, will be donated to the Farm Sanctuary, which rescues abused and neglected farm animals across the country.

Mai-ly Hilart explains, “the choice to make it open-source came from when I realized that my lack [of designing skills] could become something fun, and in the end create an inspiring community, showcase new artists, and make something that more people had a say in so we would know that we were choosing to construct designs women really want to wear.” She added, “this will sound cheesy but, I’ve always felt moved by communities where many voices collaborate, like Monday night orchestra. It is an experiment and a journey and there are inevitably wrong notes and missed beats, but in the end, the goal is the music.”

Mai-ly Hilgart’s venture is self-funded, “plus a small loan from my parents.” And is the first step in her business’s plan to identify potential pattern-makers, tailors, interns, talented graphic designers and illustrators for hire.

More Info:

Interested? You can contact Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart directly at Leanne (at) VauteCouture (dot) com with any questions and stay updated on the project at

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3 Responses to VauteCouture: A Chicago Fashion Experiment

  1. Almena says:

    Unparalleled accuracy, unequivocal clarity, and undeniable imopractne!

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