You can spend months imagining what Hello Kitty Con is going to be like, but nothing can really prepare you for the things you’ll see. This weekend, the 4-day event—Sanrio’s first-ever official fan convention for its No. 1 character—took place in Los Angeles, occupying part of the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, the Japan American Museum, and The Line Hotel in Koreatown.
Starting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, fans flooded The Geffen to enjoy a carnival of merchandise, cartoony photo ops, performance art, exhibitions and costume contests. The adjacent Japan American Museum featured a large-scale exhibit of Hello Kitty-influenced art, which will remain open through spring, before embarking on a world tour. By Saturday night, the masses made their way to Hello Kitty’s birthday bash at The Line Hotel—where some attendees had already been staying in specially appointed rooms. (Read: stocked with even more Hello Kitty goodies. Like, a lot.)
Not only was the convention a dream for diehard collectors—everything from special edition Spam to artist lectures to (free) permanent tattoos were available—but the sold-out event also brought out impressively creative dressers in droves. We spent the weekend exploring the convention and meeting some of the character’s biggest fans. As for the whole “Hello Kitty is a girl, not a cat” thing? Everyone totally already knew that.
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Personal style: Kawaii-meets-punky
Most cherished Hello Kitty possession: I still have a Little Twin Stars wallet that I got when I was seven—probably the year it came out.
Hottest pursuit: I lived in Japan and they used to have this store in Ginza that was a whole Hello Kitty land. I waited in line for 2 or 3 hours when a new line came out.
Best Bday gift for Kitty: Maybe a boyfriend?! [laughs]
Most kawaii thing on: I guess my shoes! They have polka dots on the inside.
Personal style: I’m very inspired by Lolita fashion, very bright colors, and cute bows.
Most cherished Hello Kitty possession: My bow. The toaster is also really great.
Most excited to see: The clothes! I love fashion.
Most kawaii thing on: I really like my wig and I really like my tights—I put a lot of work into them.
Personal style: Anything that’s comfortable but really cute. Or anything with a bow.
Most cherished Hello Kitty possession: I do have Hello Kitty tattoos….
Most excited to see: The fashion installation. My friend worked on it, so it’s a big thing for her and I’m proud.
Best Bday gift for Kitty: A really nice bow with rhinestones.
Most kawaii thing on: My sweater.
Personal style: It has to be cute—I’m 30 and I have to be cute.
Most cherished Hello Kitty possession: I have a Hello Kitty plush for the car.
Best Bday gift for Kitty: She wants hair accessories….
Most kawaii thing on: My glasses!
Names: Sandy, Misa, Lisa, Misa, Talia
Best Bday gift for Kitty: Apples!
Most cherished Hello Kitty possession: I couldn’t pick one!
Most excited to see: Everything! It’s so big and there’s so much merchandise…
Best Bday gift for Kitty: A spa day
Most kawaii thing on: My hat!
Name: Chrissa Sparkles
Personal style: It’s definitely Japanese-influenced but it’s in between J-pop, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Beyoncé—really cute but really sexy at the same time.
Most cherished Hello Kitty possession: A special dress made for Hello Kitty’s 35th anniversary. It’s a beautiful tulle princess gown with a stencil of Hello Kitty’s face on it.
Most excited to see: The look in everyone’s eyes when they come in here.
Best Bday gift for Kitty: I would give her the biggest sprinkle donut in the world with a lot of edible glitter on it.
Most kawaii thing on: My nails! I think 3D nails are the #1 necessity for every kawaii girl’s wardrobe.
Most cherished Hello Kitty possession: I have this ring with rhinestones, but it’s broken so I never wear it. I got it when I was really young so it’s really special to me.
Hottest pursuit: My boyfriend knows I like Hello Kitty, so he goes out of his way and does nice stuff for me. I kind of rely on my knight in shining armor.
Best Bday gift for Kitty: A unicorn!
Personal style: Harajuku Girl meets Industrial Jewel Pet
Most cherished Hello Kitty possession: My husband got a Charmmy Kitty tattoo the day after we got engaged.
Hottest pursuit: I’ve flown to Japan to get something I wanted.
Most kawaii thing on: My engagement ring.
Names: Krystal and Kristy (from left)
Most cherished: Krystal- I have a Hello Kitty MAC collaboration tote from forever ago. Kristy- Mine is my Hello Kitty footy pajamas. My boyfriend hates them, I love them. Krystal- That reminds me: I have a Hello Kitty Snuggie that’s pretty fabulous.
Best Bday present for Kitty: Krystal- I feel like she’d appreciate an Edible Arrangement.
Most excited to see: Krystal- I was excited about the tattoos, but there’s a really long line!
Name: Anna Estela
Most cherished Hello Kitty possession: There are so many. I have Hello Kitty ears and they never get old.
Most kawaii thing on: My hair!
Most excited to see: The high fashion is out of this world.
Best Bday gift for Kitty: I would make her something really special. She has everything and she’s been everywhere—wings!
The outfit: I was thinking about creative Hello Kitty styles, and there was one look where she has everything piled on her head. I thought it was really cute and kind of couture and I wanted to do something last-minute. So I got some hot glue and did it! It took about 3 hours after work last night.
Most excited to see: I’m looking forward to the panels—especially the designers of Sanrio and Paul Frank.
Best Bday present for Kitty: I’d give her a vegetarian cookbook because I hope Hello Kitty goes vegetarian one day.
Most cherished Hello Kitty possession: The piggy bank that I got when I was 5.
Best Bday gift for Kitty: Maybe a lollipop?
Most excited to see:Everything!
Most cherished Hello Kitty possession: I have a really big pink backpack that I love to use.
Best Bday present for Kitty: The biggest stuffed animal I could possibly give.
Most excited to see: I’m really excited to buy all the limited-edition things….