On the street level, people bundled into walking marshmallows hurry by, hunching shoulders against the cold. It’s a winter evening in the trendy Chicago neighborhood of Wicker Park, but the inhabitants and visitors blend into an uncharacteristically indistinct mass beneath dark winter coats in a desperate attempt to fend off the Windy City chill.
Hidden one floor above them, however, a different scene unfolds. In the white-walled Heaven Gallery on Milwaukee Ave., a diverse group of people clad in fur and leather, thrifted blazers and brand-new Nikes chatter excitedly over champagne as they wait for the show to start. They’ve all gathered to see the Spring 2014 collection from Renovar, designer Alma Wieser’s art-history-inspired clothing line. Normally serving as a combined art gallery and vintage clothing store, the Heaven Gallery has been transformed for the evening into a runway-ready catwalk.
As the music starts, a hush falls over the audience and photographers ready their large-lensed cameras. Keeping with Renovar tradition, this collection, entitled ‘Wild Dream,’ has been devised around a theme from art history. In this case, it’s the Ballet Russes, a highly influential ballet company in the early 20th century known for the collaborations it promoted between creatives like Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso and Coco Chanel. A chiffon-clad ballerina emerges in point shoes and flutters down the runway, setting the stage for the show.
Though the clothes were inspired by the “explosive and kinetic” costumes of the Ballet Russes, the collection as a whole feels decidedly modern. Still, early 1900s influences can be felt in the long strands of pearls and boyish silhouettes of many pieces. Some of the most distinctive features of the collection included interconnected jewelry headpieces, bright geometric patterns and peekaboo-backs. But why tell what can be shown? Here are some of the best looks of the night.