The Ultimate Signature Style: Hello Kitty 2015
Hello Kitty Chic
Who Said Modern Style Can't Be Cute?
When most people, who're into fashion, think of a signature style they probably think about Coco Chanel with her piles of costume and real jewelry. Audrey Hepburn with her over-sized shades or Nancy Cunard with her large African bracelets. But for those of us born during the 1960s and schooled in the 1970s and 1980s it's not unusual to see something as kitschy as Hello Kitty worn as a signature style by our generation.
Before I attended Hello Kitty Con 2014 on October 30, 2014 at The Geffen Contemporary At MOCA and the exhibit HELLO! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty at the Japanese American National Museum I didn't realize how important her image was. Whether she's featured as sweet, innocent and child-like or sophisticated and cutting-edge her appeal attracts those into high-fashion and cutesy collectibles with equal fervor. Throughout my relationship with her I've grown to appreciate the wit and charm she adds to my ensembles and the optimism, diversity and vulnerability she imparts. She represents modern fashion at its best without dominating the wearer's personality.
Hello Kitty's Story:
Originally from London, England Hello Kitty was born on November 1 and her real name is Kitty White. She has a twin sister Mimmy who wears a yellow hair bow over her right ear, while Hello Kitty wears her red bow over her left, her mother's name is Mary and her father's name is George. Her grandfather, Anthony, and her grandmother, Margaret, make up the rest of her traditional family, while her white Persian cat, Charmmy Kitty, and her hamster, Sugar, make up her pet family. Her friends include her best friend, Dear Daniel, Keroppi Frog, Choco Cat, Little Melody and others. She was created by Yuko Shimizu who, according to Wikipedia, "got the name Kitty from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass where in a scene early in the book Alice plays with a cat she calls Kitty."
Although she was introduced to the world in 1974, and the United States in 1976, I feel her kitschy look coincided with the '70's trends of the times and that era's current revival in fashion. I was just starting 7th grade at Orville Wright Junior High in Westchester, California then I remember that among the patchwork denim, bell bottoms, halter tops, mini skirts and platforms the red, white and blue vinyl coin purse Sanrio recreated her on in 1975 fit right in with the Bicentennial that was so popular then.Patriotic, but fun, this little treasure is a perfect example of kawaii culture in Japan. For me, that was my first introduction to style based on an anthropomorphic figure who changed with the times.
Lovely Kitty Wonder Exhibit at Hello Kitty Con 2014:
While it was fascinating and wonderful to see so many Hello Kitty fans representing her at the convention in dresses with Hello Kitty prints, t-shirts, hair bows and Lolita looks I was blown away by the way various designers reinterpreted her for the #lovely kitty wonder exhibit inside the convention. Ranging from avant-garde to one-of-a-kind the designs that stood out for me were Glimmerwood's white and blue wedding dress, which was "designed exclusively for the exhibit," Linda Friesen's white molded plastic dress, Doll Eyes' white fur jacket and blue skirt, a-morir's white dress accented with red bow detail, and Abigail Greydanus's pink latex dress.
In a perfect world, where there aren't wall-to-wall people and long lines stretching around the block, I would've loved wearing one of these dresses to the show, but since I knew it would be crazy crowded, I decided to represent in something simpler and less distracting. I knew the occasion called for color and comfort so I combined a black floral hoodie pullover with black floral leggings worn under a white faux fur shrug. To give it that Hello Kitty swag I accessorized the outfit with a white cotton hat, accented with a rhinestone Hello Kitty pin, pinned two Hello Kitty slogan pins on the lapel of my shrug and added a blue heart Hello Kitty bracelet. For extra comfort I wore a pair of black Converse. When I picked up the Hello Kitty Con 2014 Official Guide Book and read the Survival Tip for Footwear, "Wear comfy shoes for those cement floors!" I knew I'd made the right decision.
The Super SuperMarket:
After visiting the #lovely kitty wonder exhibit I decided to go spend some money at the Super SuperMarket where there were "exclusives, limited edition products, gifts and goodies" by Bed Head pajamas, Dylan's Candy Bar, Japan L.A., Sephora, Ty and more.
My first stop was Dylan's Candy Bar, but since their treats were out of my price range, I decided to concentrate on my wish list, which included a t-shirt and a bag. I found Poketo, a fabulous art company located in downtown L.A., and purchased a really cool blue and white tee there for $36. Elegant, yet witty, the thing I really love about it is it's timeless and versatile enough to be worn with a skirt, jeans or a suit. I later wore it under a black floral jacket with black pants. Next I went to Lounge Fly and bought a red Hello Kitty backpack and a beige, black and red scarf. The scarf proved to be very warm and adaptable too, when I later wore it with a brown wool boyfriend coat, grey sweatshirt layered over a red and white striped button-down shirt and beige Marc Jacobs pants. To play up the cat theme I further accessorized the outfit with a vintage leopard hat.
Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty Exhibit:
With most of my money spent, and my energy flagging, I ended my day at the Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum. As pervasively colorful and enjoyable as Hello Kitty Con was I now needed the quiet, Zen-like mood of the exhibit to enjoy my favorite cat in peace. Divided into sections where artists depicted her as their muse to various products introduced through the years, my favorite section included the fashion she inspired.At times in the mode of Lady Gaga and at others as subdued as Audrey Hepburn the clothing depicted, in the exhibit, demonstrated how Hello Kitty's simple image can translate to reflect any mood or personality. For those of us who consider her essential part of fashion that's important.
The Top 10 Reasons I Think Hello Kitty Contributes to Modern Fashion:
1) She's versatile enough to appeal to people with high-fashion, street and retro tastes at the same time.
2) Her image adds wit, charm and sass to any ensemble.
3) Designers can reinterpret her as avant-garde, ultra-girly or sophisticated depending on their story line.
4) Her philosophy is inclusive, not exclusive, and she accepts everyone regardless of their age, lifestyle or background.
5) Her products can be inexpensive and long-lasting, allowing a fashionista to update her wardrobe with a Hello Kitty item without breaking the bank. Even a simple slogan pin, tote bag or hair clip can add pizzazz for less than $10.
6) The colors used in her collections allow those afraid of color to experiment and break out of a style rut.
7) Her products are instant mood lifters and conversation starters.
8) Hello Kitty is timeless so you don't have to worry about her going out of style.
9) Hello Kitty is fun to wear.
10) She's comforting. When you wear something Hello Kitty it makes you feel good and as if you're surrounded by good vibes.
Hello Kitty Helps You Channel Your Inner Child
Do you like Hello Kitty?
Japanese American National Museum
Japanese American National Museum: "HELLO! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty Exhibit" (October 11, 2014-April 26, 2015). janm.org/hellokitt