Louise Katzovitz was not interested in fashion trends growing up. Katzovitz preferred to wear off-kilter clothes that were not like what she saw on her peers. When she was young, she remembers her first encounter with statement-making pieces. It was in the early 2000s. She wore a Betsey John bubble skirt dress that made her “look like cupcakes” to her homecoming. Katzovitz’s personal style has since evolved – she now prefers to wear minimal pieces and the occasional girly dress – but her affinity for larger-than-life fashion continues.
While Katzovitz now showcases her creations to thousands of followers on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, she never envisioned herself as a “designer.” Katzovitz grew up in math and geometry, which is where she shined brightest. In college, she majored in mechanical engineering. But her love for avant-garde fashion stayed with her, “like a bug in the back of my mind.” So while studying at Northeastern University, Katzovitz also enrolled in a certificate program at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where she took classes in fashion, design, and sustainability.
After graduating from college, she was a full-time mechanical engineering worker in Boston. She also dabbled in fashion design projects. She was inspired to combine the two professions: “I wasn’t finding the right job that combined them, so it was like, ‘I’m going to start making things in the world that I want to see.'” Katzovitz, who is now a freelance mechanical engineer in San Francisco, began thinking about the possibilities. She started a .YouTube channel where she documented projects that ranged from a fire-lit cape, to 3D-printed breastplates. Since then, she has also joined .TikTok where some of her videos are viewed more than 500,000 times.
Katzovitz uses engineering and science to create unique inventions that surpass anything on the market. Imagine a corset that can be self-laced and clothing 3D-printed to change color.
Katzovitz draws inspiration from fashion runways and film for her amazing creations. She reimagined the Schiaparelli Spring 2021 couture gown in April. But rather than creating cut-outs with embellishments that are tooth-shaped, Katzovitz used Hungry Hungry hippos pieces. In September, Katzovitz mimicked a dress from a scene in Cruella, where Emma Stone’s white cape is dissolved by flames, revealing a red dress underneath. Katzovitz did not actually set herself ablaze, but she made a mini cape from flash paper. It was made out of a mixture of cotton fabric and sulfuric acid. She says, “I love transformations in movies and I am the kind of person who gasps at them for actual.” “Transforming clothes is how I do it in real life.”
Katzovitz’s work forms part of a wider revolution that is taking place as a result fashion and STEM fields merging. See: MIT’s Media Lab researcher Neri Oxman, as well as textile experts like Mark Liu, who have pioneered projects like a self-growing silk structure and zero-waste pattern making, respectively. Fashion designers such as Zac Posen and Iris Van Herpen, a favourite of Katzovitz, have advocated for the integration of fashion and technology using techniques such as 3D printing and electromagnetic weaving. These are not only visually stunning, but they also make fashion look more modern. The benefits of combining fashion and technology have been more than just aesthetic. They are also beneficial for the future sustainability of the garment industry. Science has made it possible for the fashion industry to access biodegradable fabrics as well as cruelty-free alternatives such as mushroom “leather.”
After Katzovitz revealed that she had created a self-laced corset to allow her to wear her favorite bustier, without having to lace it by hand, the idea for this project came up. For people with disabilities, people started to share their thoughts on Katzovitz’s Instagram posts. She says, “That’s been an amazing thing that I discovered by sharing my work.” “People are reaching me to give their opinions on certain revisions.” After months of testing micromotors and looking at other innovations like Nike’s selflacing sneakers, which were sold through its “Adapt”, line in 2016, she recently completed the self-laced corset. She says, “We must keep thinking about how to bring [this type of technology] to people and help them.”
Katzovitz will next be working on a commission to create Michael Jackson’s red jacket in “Thriller”. She’ll transform it with LED lights that are inspired by a similar look from the singer’s “Victory Tour.” She says, “I’m really excited as this jacket was made almost 40 years ago. It’s amazing to see how much technology we have for LEDs and batteries.”
Katzovitz documents her projects in hopes of sharing insight into how science can be used to help fashion industry grow. While it might seem like technology like this is only for fashion shows and costumes for film, Katzovitz wants to make them more accessible for everyone who wants fashion to be better for them, both visually as well as functionally. She says, “I believe people are becoming more deliberate about design and what they purchase, so hopefully clothes will become what people actually want and need.”