Hello Kitty makes me smile. I distinctly recall my first encounter with Hello Kitty, ahem, over 30 years ago. There was a big Hello Kitty display at Jordan Marsh (now Macy’s) in my local mall outside Boston. I was enchanted by the cute stuff and got a fun colored pencil set that I treasured. Sure, My love for Hello Kitty it might be nostalgia for my childhood. But I think it’s more than that, Hello Kitty is an enigma. I like enigmas. Hello Kitty has endured through 35 years and across many cultures. Changing….Yet not really changing. When I heard there was a 35th Anniversary Celebration for Hello Kitty being held not far from my home, I just had to go. The celebration, being held at Royal-T in Culver City, CA has something for everyone. Let me start off with Royal-T…..And where do I start? It’s just this funky art-cafe-shop space that is modeled on the Meido Kissa cafes of Tokyo. In Meido Kissas, the staff dress as elegant maids and the idea behind that is to make customers feel like they are at home and to encourage them to relax. I don’t know about you, but there aren’t ANY elegant maids at my house…Not even inelegant ones. I’d feel at home with spilled sippy cups on the floor. But I digress. Suffice it to say, you just need to visit Royal-T to totally “get it”. I had the opportunity to visit twice in the past week and I love it! I felt so lucky to be able to attend the first event Sanrio has produced for Hello Kitty fans in North America.
From October 23-November 15, Royal-T is hosting “Three Apples” a multi-dimensional exhibition and celebration of all things Hello Kitty including a product retrospective. There are various events during the three week exhibit which is free of charge and open 10am-10pm daily. Although I love Hello Kitty, it’s not like I *know* that much about her. But, hardcore fans will understand that “Three Apples” refers to Hello Kitty’s weight.
I stopped in last week about 9:00pm and the place was hopping. The cafe had about an hour wait and the bar was wall to wall with an eclectic mix of 20-something girls all dressed up in Hello Kitty themed attire sipping sake next to men in business suits. I had a blast strolling through the 10,000 sq. ft. space taking it all in. This past Monday, I brought my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, Chip & Lulu in to check it out. We spent a couple of hours wandering around checking everything out. The shop has items ranging from pencils to designer handbags all with the Hello Kitty theme. My favorite part was the Hello Kitty apartment, pictured right. Everything is Hello Kitty! Chip and Lulu had two favorite hang outs: The Hello Kitty hot air balloon, that allowed them to hang out in the basket and pretend they were flying and The Hello Kitty cottage, complete with a picket fence.
We stayed for lunch and had a really, really great time. I got the turkey burger and fries which was really yummy, my MIL got the Miso Chicken Salad and my SIL got the Grilled Salmon Salad and both were pleased with their choices. For the kids, I selected something for them from the special Hello Kitty Menu, the High Tea. It’s really a little kid’s dream, Hello Kitty stamped sandwiches, cupcakes, brownies and little treats along with a pot of tea (my MIL drank the tea and thought it was fantastic). The service was excellent and I intend to return to Royal-T after the Hello Kitty exhibit ends, it was that good! If you think you can get to the exhibit, definitely make the effort. If you can’t, you can definitely check out the Hello Kitty 35th Anniversary products available from Sanrio and take a walk down memory lane or start a new lane of memories with your kids. The kids and I had such a blast, even Chip, who on the ride over said, “Hello Kitty is PINK!” with a tinge of disdain. Yet, he was the one I had to drag out of there!
Update 11/14/09: I went to the closing weekend fashion show at Royal-T tonight. It was really crazy with lines down the block. Since I'm media, I had bit of an easier of time of it and was one of the few able to make it into the show. I hung out with Erin Anadkat of the LA Magazine Style Blog who took pictures while I tweeted from the show. Check out Erin's post with pictures here. It was really amazing to see several different designers interpret Hello Kitty in so many different ways. Including a couple of male models on the catwalk looking quite masculine with just a touch of Hello Kitty (not pink!) to be found. Special thanks to JapanLA and Charm School for inviting me. I highly recommend you check out JapanLA's site because they are promising and pictures and video from the show!