Renovar (Spanish for renovate) is a line started in 2005 by Alma Wieser, inspired by the rich history of costume and art. The concept behind the line is the renewal of ideas and their cycle through time. Each season a theme is chosen and researched for the collection, keeping the clothes fresh and full of fashion references. Some of the most notable collections are “Chanel versus Schiaparelli S/S 2010”, “Model Assemblages” inspired by artist Louise Nevelson F/W 2011, and “Wild Dream” based on Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes S/S 2014. The intention is to create smart clothes for smart women and to revive the relationship between designer and client that has been long gone with the old couture houses. The Label offers Renovar Edition, a line of high end designs made to order, a ready to wear line, and Renovar Vintage, a line of reworked garments, all made in Chicago.
Alma Wieser received her BFA in Fine Arts of Fashion Design from The International Academy of Design and Technology. She currently lives and works in Chicago as designer/dress maker for Renovar and director of Heaven Gallery, a non for profit art gallery in Wicker Park.
For Spring 2015, Renovar revisits Halston-Warhol-Jagger featuring custom prints with studio 54 logo, bright bananas, metallic lips and super man super money logo.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’m a fashion designer/dress maker for Renovar clothing line and I run Heaven Gallery, a non for profit art gallery with my husband, David Dobie.
How has living in Chicago affected your work? I’m looking for creative solutions to extreme weather; for instance I designed a fashionable snuggie/shawl that can be layered or worn at home if you live in a drafty Chicago loft. For Spring, I’m using a lot of cotton gauze in the next collection; when it’s hot and humid women love gauze.
What kinds of things are influencing your work right now? As a designer I’m really into complex simplicity, things that look simple but are hard to imagine as a flat pattern, I love clothes that are one cut piece, APOC, and clothes that are interactive with multiple ways to wear. I’m also into finding ones personal uniform; when something works it’s nice to have multiple variations of the same thing. My work comes from my need for these garments; I also like to test the looks on myself and see how they work and feel.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Recently, I traveled to the Andy Warhol Museum to see “Silver and Suede”, an exhibition based on the work and friendship of Warhol and Halston. My new project is called “American Celebrity”, and is a collection based on their collaborations. They were obsessed with celebrity and the decadence of the 70’s. It’s a wonderful story about two boys from the midwest that travled to NYC and went on to dominate in their field. Everyone knows who Warhol is but not that many know the work of Halston. The collection has screen printed “Studio 54” logos and a Superman logo with the “S” changed into a “$” for “Super Money”.
What designers are you interested in right now? Maison Rabih Kayrouz, Proenza Schouler, and Haider Ackerman.
What past trends in fashion should never come back? Biker shorts with dresses and biker shorts in general.
Tell us about your work process and how it develops. Every collection I choose a theme and do some research, and I post inspirational images on a large wall in my studio. I collect vintage clothes that are influencing me at the moment and alter the pattern to make new pieces. I also do a lot of draping on myself to find what the fabric wants to do.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after experiencing your work? The work is meant to be didactic; I’m on a path of uncovering the long history of fashion and the technics of the past. Renovar is a contemporary take on the fashion history; the clothes have a narrative, and they honor some of best minds in art and fashion by renovating past silhouettes and past approaches to the sartorial.
What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? I love LA; I always feel like I’m in a dream there.
Favorite article of clothing? Right now I feel like being a fashion super hero, so my favorite clothes are capes and I’m really into subtle transparent tops, pants and long skirts that give an illusion of being naked, but don’t give everything away. Both items will be in the new collection.