Tuesday, January 8, 2013


 Photos courtesy of Lonny
Christian Leone's vintage-tinged New York apartment as featured in Lonny last fall. A mix of mid century modern and traditional classic pieces come together nicely.

He is ready to whip up a cocktail in seconds flat.

You know I love a good etagere.

 Glamour reigns supreme in Casa Leone, where fear of color has certainly been overcome.

Leah Park and Christian Leone

When my friend and neighbor Christian Leone shared with me that he was starting a new venture, I knew it was going to be good. He is the sort of person that always has a smile on his face, a great anecdote, and a wonderful way of making friends everywhere he goes ((it must be his mid western upbringing). Not to mention he has loads of style. Years of fashion pr, as well as joining Gilt Groupe in the early days put Leone in a great spot as a connector and ideas person. As you can tell from Leone's red lacquer apartment above, his dapper dan style is undeniable. He revealed he was creating an invitation-based shopping site that delves into the closets of some of the chicest fashionistas around, and teaming up with another former Gilt friend, Leah Park. Called Vaunte, the e-commerce site offers wardrobe access to designer clothing, accessories and more. Stylebeat readers can get access to Vaunte here, and can invite 2 friends upon joining. I love the way Park has art-directed the site, it utilizes the latest technology, has great photography and occasionally a glimpse into the homes of the stylish participants, adding a "behind the keyhole" effect.  I caught up with the two founders to get the scoop on what they are up to. 

How did you know the timing was right for Vaunte?

CL - After doing research we realized that 80% of clothing in closets went unworn. There were the traditional brick and mortar consignment shops that existed but there was nothing online. We solved this by creating Vaunte, which is a social marketing platform with a strong retail component. In addition, we created a site that features coveted fashion items with provenance. There are so many items that women wear only one time and (in some cases) are photographed and never wear again, this is the perfect outlet for them.

How did you come up with the concept?

CL - This was really Leah’s concept. She was bored of the items in her closet and would shop at her sister or friend’s closets to find pieces or items to go out in.
LP - It’s true – once you wear a stunning piece, you really can’t wear it again especially if everyone has seen you in it! I love the idea of walking-up to people and saying “I Vaunte that dress, bag, etc” and have them sell it on Vaunte. If a item is that standout, they shouldn’t be wearing so often anyways!

Tell me about the art direction-

-It’s important for us to capture and celebrate these women in their homes and element to really showcase their style and taste.

What are your roles?

LP - CEO and Co-Founder
CL - CCO and Co-Founder

What is the best part of creating a commerce site with tastemakers as your muses?

CL - after working with fashion designers such as Alberta Ferretti and Giorgio Armani for many years the muses were very specific to the brand. For Vaunte, we want our muses or “starlets” as we call them to have a personality whether it’s classic, edgy, glamorous, hipster, etc. And it is interesting to see how one woman will wear Chanel or Alaia so different from another.

What products are you most excited about showcasing?

CL - I love the accessories, beautiful bags and shoes but I also love the glamorous dresses and or/gowns. I love fashion. But for me it is the personality of the women that shines through is the most exciting. It’s interesting to step into these women’s lives and see how they dress, live, entertain, decorate and raise their children. It is very personal and after the shoot there is a connection. And I love to see these personalities featured on Vaunte.

Whose closet is your dream get?

We both agree that we would love to have Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss, we would also love to feature some young royals such as Charlotte Casiraghi or Kate Middleton.

What part of the site are people really excited about since launch?

Our members seem to enjoy reading the profile of our “starlets” and obviously they like to shop the site for one of kind unique chic items.

What are your favorite places or reads for inspiration?

CL - Obviously the fashion magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country constantly inspire me along with the shelter publications such as Architectural Digest, House Beautiful and Lonny. We feature not only the women’s fashion items but we are shooting vignettes within their homes. We want the Vaunte member to experience not only the “starlets” fashion items but also an opportunity to get a glimpse of their lives.
LP - The streets of NYC are my favorite source of fashion inspiration. And Vaunte is really democratizing real woman and their real style!

Wardrobe stylist Melanie Charlton has a closet storage solutions company called Clos-ette, where she creates calm from chaos in closet organization.  Her wardrobe is featured today.

Included are shots of her Upper East Side home.

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