Vintage futurism moves line forward

By Brianna Wellen

Heaven Gallery’s reception before the 101 Years of Futurism fashion show displayed a wine and cheese spread and a bowl of Doritos. Patrons floated in, wearing everything from flannel and jeans to couture cocktail dresses as electronic beats provided the evening’s soundtrack. In the hour and a half before the show started, friends greeted each other and models ran to the bathroom with cans of hairspray and glasses of wine, only to disappear again behind a swishing black curtain. Alma Wieser, dressed in her own unique designs, paraded around making last-minute adjustments to the show.

The collection, Renovar, was a presentation of deconstructed vintage clothing Wieser created in the futurist style. The show was presented at Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave., on April 24. One year after the centennial celebration of futurism, her goal was to present her own views on the future, combining vintage pieces she loved with an artistic style she’s always wanted to emulate.

“It’s about our ideas of the future, as far as our imaginations can reach, where we’re headed, basically,” Wieser said.

By hand-making and sewing all the pieces from vintage clothing and yardage, she hoped to show that instead of going forward and forgetting the past, it’s important to recreate a future out of history, full of optimism. Jackets and dresses were made into skirts all with Wieser’s personal philosophy in mind: “If I wouldn’t wear it, I won’t make it, darling.”

On the unconventional runway that spanned two rooms in a figure eight pattern, every angle of the clothing could be seen. Chairs lined the edge so tightly that the models had to avoid audience members’ feet as they navigated the walkway. This did, however, offer the audience an up close and personal view of every hand-stitched piece as dresses with strong shoulders and lightly colored cutouts passed with models sporting Wieser’s signature hats and hair pieces.

“I tried to use a lot of pastels and really optimistic colors just to give that air of optimism for the future that I have,” Wieser said.

For Wieser, it was the tech couture coats that actually took the futuristic style into the future. Born out of a collaboration based on a separate technology project, the black and white coats had round speakers—woven into the shoulders and spiraled around the body—that played music as the models walked the runway.

“I have to say, the speaker coats were awesome,” said Destiny Love Jones, a model for the show and Columbia fashion management student, who sees practicality in the tech couture. “They were innovative, they were warm, which was really surprising. Structure-wise, they were really nice, and I thought it was interesting to have speakers on the outside. I ride a Vespa, so I can’t wear headphones, so I would love to have that.”

Jones met Wieser at one of the many vintage trunk shows she presents regularly at the Heaven Gallery. After Jones tried on a Revonar garment, Wieser thought she looked great in the outfit and booked her for two upcoming shows. According to Jones, this is just part of who Wieser is, acting on a whim while working creatively.

“It’s amazing to watch her work because she doesn’t really get frazzled when she really could,” Jones said. “It’ll be two hours away from a show and she’s still stitching up a garment.”

Weiser’s shows and sales contribute to the burgeoning artistic community not only at Heaven Gallery, but also the other emerging galleries throughout the Wicker Park neighborhood. People involved enjoy every aspect of art—fashion, music and visuals—creating a space where creative minds can come together and contribute something different to the community.

The 101 Years of Futurism show drew inspiration from noise music, an artistic movement and vintage fashions as the perfect culmination toward the gallery’s collaborative goal.

Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave., is open Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. To learn more about upcoming special events for Revonar, visit