Christian Leone and Leah Park photographed by Mimi Ritzen Crawford

The co-founders of Vaunte talk about inspiration, start-ups and objects of desire.

What inspired Vaunte?
Christian: It was a combination of things. We worked together at Gilt and we thought there was an opportunity — Leah is a big shopper and she and her sister would shop each other’s closets like their own. It was a way to swap clothes. That was the initial inspiration. There is a lot of opportunity for people to use clothes they’re not wearing. We put this plan together pretty quickly.
Leah: We raised funding in less than two months, and we knew there was something very special here. We launched in a matter of months, from May to November. It seems so long ago now, though. We’re not an online consignment store. We’re here to editorialize. It’s about style not necessarily your status. It’s showing us what you have.
Who did you feature first?
Leah: Jill Kargman. She has a cool story. It was the dress that inspired Karl Lagerfeld’s design for her wedding dress. Not only is it discounted, but it is a cool conversation piece.
Christian: We wanted a story about the items. When you’re buying something that’s second-hand, you don’t know where it came from. These items have a story. Everything in these closets has been curated by that person.
What makes second-hand chic?
Leah: I love knowing that it’s not in season right now and that I’m going to show up at a party and there won’t be anyone wearing it. I can say that it’s vintage. You read Oscar red-carpet stories — people are wearing vintage. It’s coming back around.
If you could buy from anyone else’s home/wardrobe, who would it be?
Christian: Scott Sternberg from Band of Outsiders.
Leah: Victoria Beckham and Kate Moss for me.
There’s a voyeuristic aspect to this…
Leah: It’s the essence of who they are, in their home. As we kept on developing the concept, Christian started going into their homes, and he created vignettes.
Christian: You see who they are and how they live. We like the idea of what books they have on their bookshelves or what they have on their coffee table.
Leah: A woman may be rocker chic, but she has hot pink rugs, and it closes the story and you understand her better.
What are you wearing in this picture?
Christian: A custom suit from Manolo Costa, a Thom Browne shirt, Lanvin bow tie and Berk velvet fox slippers.
Leah: A diamond pavé necklace, Iosselliani cocktail ring, 3.1 Phillip Lim feather dress (originally a skirt, from a second-hand boutique) and Christian Louboutin sandals. I’m selling these all on Vaunte except for the heels.
What was the best piece of advice you ever received?
Christian: I have quote I put on my Facebook page. “When you take a risk you may lose, but when you don’t take a risk you always lose.”
What has been the biggest thrill so far?
Leah: The feeling of a start-up is so special — the blood, sweat and tears. There’s nothing else like it. When you are working the feeling of unity and everything is exciting. You risk it together.
Are you guys start-up junkies?
Leah: I think I am.
Christian: I love being at a small company. I like the intimacy and rapport you have with your coworkers.

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