Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Friday, May 24

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Flight, Wreck-It Ralph, A Late Quartet, The Loneliest Planet & Brooklyn Castle A Return to Form: SOFA 2012 »

Fashion Fri Nov 02 2012

On the Origin of Design: Renovar Spring 2013


Alma Weiser is a clever, thoughtful encyclopedia of knowledge. One can gleam even a fraction of her intellect and curiosity for history and design upon talking to her for a few minutes. As a fashion designer for Renovar, her past influences ranged from Louise Nevelson to Elsa Schiaparelli. Nevelson, an American sculptor of the early 20th century, created large, monochromatic, and complex sculptures. Schiaparelli, an Italian fashion designer and rival of Coco Chanel, was driven by the works and ideas of the Surrealists.

In Weiser's latest collection, "On The Origin of Species," her main point of focus is Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution. Low concept, she is not. In fact, what ultimately makes Weiser such a fascinating and driven designer is her dedication to history, to conceptualism, to fashion for fashion's sake. "On The Origin of Species" premieres Saturday, November 3 at Heaven Gallery.

Weiser comes from a Pentecostal background, and she admits that this latest collection is a reckoning of sorts. "This is my reconciliation with creation and evolution," she said. "I just realized this show is controversial. For me, it's totally fine. I can mix my science with God." This is less about proving which side of the debate is correct and more about examining the ways in which a religious background can meld with the discoveries and truth within science.


The majority of the collection (about 12 to 14 looks) was created out of reconstructed vintage clothing. The skirts, dresses, and shirts Weiser spent time collecting are majestic and colorful with animal and floral prints, a "mixing of the species," as Weiser described.

"I've always been a fan of Darwin," she said. "I was also amazed by the amount of work he did. He wrote extensive works: on worms, on beetles, on flowers, on all different species." The collected vintage items were then used as inspiration or the material for the final looks. In many ways, her work mimics ideas of evolution as each piece changes from its original form: a skirt becomes a dress, a shirt becomes a skirt. A mix of abstractions, the designs are enigmatic and visually lush.

"When I'm reading his journals," Weiser began, "he's talking about these luscious, beautiful, tropical worlds. I wanted to give the idea of his trip to the Galapagos Islands and seeing these flowers and trees and green." She continued, "That's variation. Color is variation. That's the whole concept of natural selection."


In addition to her reconstruction of vintage clothing, Weiser also created new prints that incorporate illustrations taken from Darwin's books and journals. Unlike her reconstructions, color is limited in these prints, instead using the exact light beige of the pages of his works.

In addition to the illustrations, she also incorporated tiny religious symbols to complete the patterns, again highlighting the play of the religious and the scientific. "I have a love affair with symbol. We understand symbol on a subconscious level," she said.

From an outsider's perspective, Weiser is the antithesis of the stereotype of the Chicago designer. When one thinks of conceptually-driven fashion, one thinks of New York or London. One does not think of Chicago. Many of the designers within this city point out the necessity to create with the Chicago consumer in mind. Chicago is a city of comfort, of practicality and of classics.

But it is perhaps her position as a designer in Chicago rather than as just a "Chicago designer" that separates Weiser from many of her peers. Basing her work in the city gives her the opportunity to stay idea-focused. There is seemingly no idea too large or too complex. For artists, Chicago is an easy city for living and working, providing freedoms of space and a separation from the drive of the market to their vision. For Weiser, whose collections are driven less by seasons and more by artistic inspiration, this proves to be a welcome element to her design process.

"On the Origin of Species" premieres Saturday, November 3 at 8pm in Heaven Gallery (1550 North Milwaukee, 2nd floor). $15 suggested donation.

GB store

Herman Cummings / November 2, 2012 6:19 PM

If pastors, priests. rabbis, and "so called" Christians would stop their false (old Earth) and foolish (young Earth) teachings, and start promoting the truth of Genesis (Observations of Moses), then there would hardly be any room for the ridiculous teaching of evolution.

Collectively, Bible believers are so "blind", that their approach to Genesis is a joke. Instead of seeking the truth, they continue to support the current lies and foolishness of Creationism. Genesis does not have any "Creation accounts". When you keep telling a person that their car is running out of gas, and they refuse to look at the fuel gauge and go to the gas station, you begin to wonder how "dumb" they are.

Perhaps they are just like the Jews, who value tradition over the truth of scripture.

Herman Cummings

Britt Julious / November 3, 2012 1:37 AM

But did you like the article, Herman?

GB store

Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


An Angry White Guy
AREA Chicago
ArchitectureChicago Plus
Arts Engagement Exchange
The Art Letter
Art or Idiocy?
Art Slant Chicago
Art Talk Chicago
Bad at Sports
Bite and Smile
Brian Dickie of COT
Bridgeport International
Carrie Secrist Gallery
Chainsaw Calligraphy
Chicago Art Blog
Chicago Art Department
Chicago Art Examiner
Chicago Art Journal
Chicago Artists Resource
Chicago Art Map
Chicago Art Review
Chicago Classical Music
Chicago Comedy Examiner
Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Daily Views
Chicago Film Examiner
Chicago Film Archives
Chicago Gallery News
Chicago Uncommon
Contemporary Art Space
Co-op Image Group
Co-Prosperity Sphere
Chicago Urban Art Society
Creative Control
Devening Projects
DIY Film
The Exhibition Agency
The Flatiron Project
F newsmagazine
The Gallery Crawl...
Galerie F
The Gaudy God
Happy Dog Gallery
Homeroom Chicago
I, Homunculus
Hyde Park Artcenter Blog
Joyce Owens: Artist on Art
Julius Caesar
Kasia Kay Gallery
Kavi Gupta Gallery
Rob Kozlowski
Lookingglass Theatre Blog
Lumpen Blog
Mess Hall
Neoteric Art
Not If But When
Noun and Verb
On Film
On the Make
Peanut Gallery
Peregrine Program
The Poor Choices Show
Pop Up Art Loop
The Post Family
The Recycled Film
Reversible Eye
Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Roots & Culture Gallery
The Seen
Sisterman Vintage
Site of Big Shoulders
Sixty Inches From Center
Soleil's To-Do's
Sometimes Store
Stop Go Stop
Storefront Rebellion
TOC Blog
Theater for the Future
Theatre in Chicago
The Franklin
The Mission
The Theater Loop
Thomas Robertello Gallery
Time Tells Tony Wight Gallery
Uncommon Photographers
The Unscene Chicago
The Visualist
Western Exhibitions
What's Going On?
What to Wear During an Orange Alert?
You, Me, Them, Everybody
Zg Gallery

GB store



A/C on Flickr

Join the A/C Flickr Pool.

About A/C

A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Nancy Bishop,
A/C staff inbox:



A/C Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15