What do Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and I all have in common? A love for Hello Kitty, of course. The loveable Japanese kitten’s famous face is as internationally recognized by school girls and adult fashion-lovers alike. Just the sight of the big red bow and sugary pink clothes can make a grown woman squeal like a little girl.
On Nov. 14, I was lucky enough to witness my childhood dream come true: The Hello Kitty Fashion Show at Culver City’s Japanese-themed Royal/T Café.
The Japanese company Sanrio first introduced Hello Kitty as a character on a vinyl coin purse in 1974. Since then, her minimalist features and signature red bow have become reborn in countless outfit changes and widely adored as a fashion icon in her own right.
To celebrate Hello Kitty’s 45th anniversary, Royal/T held its “Three Apples” exhibition from Oct. 23 to Nov. 15. The 10,000 square-foot space is both an art gallery and a café (complete with Hello Kitty-shaped treats for this event). “Three Apples,” a reference to Hello Kitty’s weight, included images of the pop icon re-imagined by over 80 contemporary artists such as Misha, Buff Monster, Gary Baseman, and Luke Chueh. It also displayed a plethora of Hello Kitty merchandise, from vintage knickknacks to modern frivolities like a tree of cell phone charms and flashy jewelry by Kimora Lee Simmons.
“Three Apples” also included outfits worn by fashion darlings Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. Lady Gaga’s extravagant gown, made of a myriad of stuffed Hello Kitty dolls, was displayed on a blonde mannequin. Next to it, with a blunt black bob, stood Perry’s mannequin in a hot pink and black punk-inspired Kitty bustier covered in studs, rhinestones, and various Kitty accoutrements.
Unlike the exhibit, the fashion show was not open to the public and was held on one night only. Several designers constructed one-of-a-kind garments decorated with the famous feline’s signature black eyes, yellow nose, and bow.
Indie designers such as Sugar Mafia and Jessica Louise created a variety of themed outfits to be sold after the show. Some mixed of-the-moment design elements with kitty kitsch, such as a cropped white top with trendy structured shoulders. Paired with red lamé leggings, the top was embellished with appliqués attached to form Hello Kitty’s face.
Last, but not least, came the final model, which was none other than Hello Kitty herself — or at least, a model in an oversize Hello Kitty head. She wore a blue dress with puffy sleeves and hot pink tiers of taffeta decorating the skirt like frosting on a cake.
Overall, the fashion show was a fun mix of girly glamour, independent fashion, a hint of childhood nostalgia, and lots and lots of pink. While the fantastically fun garments resembled costumes more than everyday wear, the outfits on Royal/T’s runway would be purr-fect additions to a Hello Kitty fan’s dream wardrobe.