Lidia Wachowska may not have cats at home, but her Chicago-based Evil Kitty clothing line has clawed its way into thirty boutiques around the country as well as several shops in the U.K. and Canada. The pieces from the hip, unique women’s line are “designed for people who like to stand out in the crowd,” Wachowska says. Her designs easily grab attention, with a memorable mischievous-looking black cat (complete with devilish-looking ears and tail) featured heavily on hoodies, tops, arm warmers and even little black dresses. Wachowska’s creations favor unusual textures and fabric combinations, prints, appliqués and colors and cuts that blend feminine and edgy, creating a look that is equal parts girly-girl and rocker chick.
Polish-born Wachowska, 33, moved to the States in the mid-nineties, mastering English as she sliced cold cuts at Dominick’s, waited tables and bartended before carving out a niche at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Intending to study painting and graphic design, things took a detour when Wachowska created a one-minute animation project featuring an Evil Kitty character, which represented difficult teenagers and “warning parents about rebellious evil kitties.” She then made twelve t-shirts emblazoned with the Evil Kitty character, which were swooped up swiftly at a school art sale. Soon after Wachowska launched Evil Kitty as a t-shirt company it quickly evolved into a bigger clothing line, which she now runs with help from two seamstresses.
As for words of wisdom for aspiring designers, Wachowska says, “I know it might sound cliché, but be passionate about what you do.” And she urges people to find other resources in the city: “Any help can be a lot.”
As one of six people chosen to be part of the Chicago Fashion Incubator, Wachowska is grateful for the immense help. The program provides mentoring opportunities, sewing machines and more at the Macy’s on State Street. And since her home is packed with Evil Kitty projects while her seamstresses work in a studio, she says, “Having space will help streamline the process a lot.” (Mary Susan Littlepage)
Evil Kitty clothes are at Wolfbait and B-girls, 3131 West Logan; 99th Floor, 3406 North Halsted; Vicious Cycle Clothing, 3248 North Clark; 2 Sisters Boutique, 28 Main Street, Park Ridge; and www.evilkitty.net.