Pret-a-Reporter

Hello Kitty Convention: Inside Her Colorful World

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Sanrio's most famous character is taking over L.A. this weekend

With Hello Kitty turning 40, you can bet she's throwing a party — and not just any ordinary bash with cake and balloons. Sanrio's most famous face is going all out with a four-day celebration by way of the first-ever Hello Kitty Convention.

The sold-out extravaganza, running Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, will be held at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in downtown L.A.'s Little Tokyo next to the Japanese American National Museum, where the "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty" exhibit is open until April 26, 2015. It's because of the exhibit that the convention has been brought to life in L.A.

"As that was coming together, we decided, 'What else can we do for Hello Kitty's 40th?" David Marchi, senior director of brand management and marketing at Sanrio, tells Pret-a-Reporter, explaining that his team began planning for the exhibit two years ago. "We've always wanted to do a fan convention, which led to us looking at different venues up and down the West Coast, and the East Coast, but then we decided, since the exhibition is happening next door, let's try for MOCA." And well, the rest is history.

But before we overdosed on Hello Kitty during the opening party on Wednesday night, with Quvenzhane Wallis, Ireland Baldwin and Jeffrey Katzenberg in attendance, we had to clear the air over the controversial topic of Hello Kitty's identity: Is the Sanrio star a girl or a cat? Marchi explained: "Sanrio has never referenced her as a traditional cat. We've always just referenced her as a girl. Not the cat that walks around on all fours and drinks milk from a bowl and eats cat food — that's not Hello Kitty. She's always been a girl, so when we kind of corrected that for the curator, she was like, 'Oh, she's not a cat?' But it's not like we're saying, 'She's not a cat. Don't call her a cat.' We just don't reference her like that. If some people reference her as a cat — great. Ultimately, she's Hello Kitty. One of my friends said, 'She's a girl that looks like a cat. What's the big deal?' So that kind of sums it up, too." Phew, good to know.

Now that we've gotten that out the way, let's get the party started. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at what Hello Kitty's biggest fans can expect during their visit. Warning: You will experience Hello Kitty sensory overload in every shape, color and form. Enjoy.

CHEERS: All kinds of Hello Kitty art are on display, like this giant tea cup that's perfect for photo ops.

 

TIME FOR CLASS: Become a true Hello Kitty artist with art classes offered from the "Hello Kitty Art School."

 

HK INK: Yep, if you'd like to have the words "Hug Life," with Hello's signature red bow as the "i," permanently inked on your body, now you can! At the "Hello Kitty Tattoo Shop," world-famous tattoo artist Mario Desa, along with Dan Smith and Alex Strangler, are doing complimentary tattoos on a first-come, first-served basis from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

 

POWERED BY HK: In case you run out of juice from taking too many photos during the convention (guilty), there are Hello Kitty charging stations.

 

FUN FASHION: Well it comes to Hello Kitty, you know fashion is always involved — the wilder, the better. And is it just us or does the one to the left remind you of Lena Dunham's Christian Siriano dress from this year's Emmys?

 

ONE OF A KIND: Still on the hunt for that vintage Hello Kitty tea set you saw years ago? You may be in luck, as the "Sanrio Vintage Shoppe" offers a carefully curated collection of rare and highly collectable pieces from the '70s to '90s.

 

SHINE ON: At the "Super SuperMarket" area, a selection of collaboration items are sold, such as this Hello Kitty x Sephora mirror case adorned with nearly 300 hand-place crystals ($49). Other exclusive HK product collabs include items from Beats by Dre, Dylan's Candy Bar, Poketo, Chan Luu and JapanLA, and many more.

 

HELLO KITTY GOES HAM: Oh, and limited-edition Hello Kitty x Spam is available, too. At least it's 25 percent less sodium.

 

HOME SWEET HOME: We may just have to remodel our house after seeing this adorable cabin.

 

MINI HOUSE: Even Duff Goldman and the folks at Charm City Cakes West showed their love for the 40-year-old feline.

 

As a bonus one...

KLEAN KITTY: No detail was too small at the convention. Even the restroom provided Hello Kitty toilet paper, as well as soap bottles featuring the famous character's expressionless face.

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