I am not even sure where to begin recapping this year's incredible Kawaii Kon. Are you ready for a MEGA-POST?
My plan of action is to retell the main events now, then post later with more photos and "Memorable Moments". The main events include the MINT NeKO fashion Show, a performance by Lolita musician Iruma Rioka, our pop-up Dark Castle, and more!
The guests were amazing this year, with vendors Harajuku Hearts packing frilly heat with Angelic Pretty, Black Peace Now, Putumayo, Chantilly and Atelier Pierrot. J-House Rock also represented the J-fashion community with a pop-up h.Naoto booth featuring MINT NeKO and an assortment of accessories from BLOOD and Frill.
I suppose it all started on Thursday night, with my fitting for the MINT NeKO fashion show. I met up with the other models in the lobby of Ala Moana Hotel, chatting and looking about for a stylish Japanese guy to appear out of thin air. At around 7, a woman emerged from the elevator, peeked around the corner and called, "Are you the models?"
She herded us into the elevators (the thought "herding cats" comes to mind), and took us up, up, up to where Mint's apartment was. I couldn't get over the fact that we were going into a designer's apartment! It was a pretty small room, especially with all of us crammed inside. MINT clothing was sprawled over the bed in a pile of monochromatic cat prints. Mint took us in groups of three, then threw back the sliding closet door to reveal a treasure trove of MINT outfits ready on hangers. He handed us our outfit one at a time, then ushered us into another room to change. When we came back, he took a polaroid photo, then we were free to go.
I was nervous, because I hate how pastels and neons look on me, and that was what he was handing out to most of the girls. But I beamed when he handed me my outfit... a grey asymmetrical cut sew and voluminous black and red harem pants. As I rushed off to change, I nervously offered Mint the gift I had made him...
A beach bucket with a squirt gun, water bombs and some sunscreen, to enjoy the pool and sunshine in Hawaii. I drew the "Neko" myself and Mint's name in katakana on the back. I muttered, 「ハワイにようこそ！」then scampered off.
I was one of the last models to be shot. After Mint took my Polaroid, I returned the outfit, then drove my friend home and prepared for the day of chaos that would ensue on Friday.
Friday was a day of scoping out the dealer's room, meeting online friends, admiring outfits and cosplays and catching up for my birthday celebration. (My birthday was on Thursday but I was busy with the Mint fitting.)
First I attended Mint's panel on Fabric design. Unfortunately it didn't go very smoothly, because there were problems playing his video and nobody was really asking good questions. Eventually the audience broke the ice and Mint made everyone laugh. He said his favourite gourmet food is McDonalds, and he became a fashion designer to impress girls.
He also talked about his inspiration as a designer, and his work. His main inspiration as a designer is Vivienne Westwood. He said that there was a traveling art exhibition in Japan, featuring work by designers inspired by Vivienne Westwood. One of Mint's creations was featured in this exhibition. I wanted to tell him that a new Vivienne Westwood boutique just opened in Waikiki, but I was interrupted by an audience member who inquired how many cats he owns. (Apparently none- but he likes to watch stray cats wherever he goes.)
At the end of the panel, he showed a film clip from his Tokyo collection. The models included members of Megamasso, Golden Bomber, Akira from Kera, and Takeru. I think not everyone in the panel appreciated this spread of celebrities, but I was squealing to myself the whole time.
I had to ask, because I always do, "What kind of music do you like?"Apparently his favourites are Matenrou Opera, NoGoD and Radwimps!
The panel wrapped up, but they said Mint would be at his booth, so I rushed over. After mulling over the merchandise, I decided to buy the same cut sew I'd wear in the fashion show, because I loved it so much! Since I purchased it, I got a polaroid and autograph from Mint.
After that, it was just killing time until my own big event...
Visual Kei Dark Castle!
Normally we only run VKDC bimonthly, with a venue and the help of our producer, Nephillim Halls. However, my partner Alice Demize and I were approached by Kawaii Kon and asked to bring VKDC to the convention.
And the best part was, we didn't get a tiny hall... we got the whole ballroom!
Dual screen projectors and everything!
I think we had a decent turn out considering we didn't start until 11. We encouraged people to get up and dance but most of them just sat... one reason I wasn't expecting all the chairs, but oh well!
The problem was, we tried to run it like a mini version of VKDC, where we video DJ and have a dance party type thing. However most of the guests were just confused and had no idea what visual kei was- or they only knew Malice Mizer, and didn't know other styles exist. So I think at the next convention, if we can, I'd like to run a more informative panel discussing what Visual Kei is, a bit of its history, and some of it's sub-genres. Maybe then we'll get a more enthusiastic crowd.
After VKDC, it was time to carpool over to SoHo Mixed Media Bar for Nephilim Hall's event, the Gibson Ball. The Gibson Ball was a mainly cyber punk themed event dedicated to steam punk, cyber and all alternative realities related to scifi.
Of the events I've been to at SoHo, I think this was my favourite to date. The guests were great sports about dressing up, and some were handing out glow sticks. The walls were decorated with tube lights, mesh, and projections of cyber movies and anime like Ghost in the Shell. The DJs were amazing and nearly everyone was dancing.
I didn't get back to my apartment until about 3 am, getting some funny looks from the desk staff with my white contacts in. I collapsed on the bed and slept like a rock until my alarm went off, and I had to drag myself across the street at 7 for hair and makeup for the Mint fashion show.
I have modeled for a Japanese brand before, when Atelier Pierrot came over for HEXXP last Fall. But in comparison, Kawaii Kon's team just beat the pants off HEXXP. The makeup and hair artists were fast, skilled, organised, and knew what the hell they were doing. Everything ran like clock work and we had plenty of time to change and rehearse.
I loved my Makeup!
The show was a huge success! It felt so avant-garde and high fashion, the most serious fashion show I've ever been in. I was really proud to wear Mint's clothes.
|All of us at the end of the show. Photo courtesy of my friend Cat.|
|Mint taking a bow. Photo courtesy of my friend Gina.|
And yes, those are balloons in our hair!
After, I went to the Iruma Rioka concert, where I was distracted by guitarist Nemu's incredible fashion. The show was great, Iruma's sweet vocals are amazing, and the performance was dream-like. Iruma even wandered out to the crowd, handing out roses to the front row. She tried to get the crowd to do things concert goers do in Japan, like coordinated dances with glow sticks and hands, but it wasn't working. xD;
Honestly the rest of the day was uneventful. I went back to the apartment to change, then made an appearance at the Yu x Me Maid Cafe panel. I didn't get to perform this time, but I did greet guests and play table games with them.
After, I went back to the apartment and CRASHED! I was still wiped from the Gibson Ball the night before. I did wake up in time for our midnight Korean Barbecue reservations though. I chilled with my friends, who are all event photographers for the Kon. As a vegetarian, I got to pick on the various side dishes served, and ate some miso stew over rice. It was such a nice meal after a long day.
Also, my friend got us a round of Soju! It's like Korean sake you could say, but it doesn't have the burn of sake.
Sunday, to make a long story short, was no-frills-barred Lolita Day. Since it was St. Patrick's Day, I busted out my favourite green Atelier Pierrot "Eden" Jsk. I wore it with harlequin tights and my Bordello boots.
|With my friend Alice. Photo courtesy of my friend Cat.|
First I headed over to the Harajuku Hearts booth, to meet Iruma Rioka. You could meet her for a photo and autograph with any purchase from Harajuku Hearts, so I chose a silver wing ring from Angelic Pretty. I was nervous I wouldn't get to see her because the Vocaloids Live concert was at the same time, but luckily she arrived in the nick of time!
|With the goddess Iruma. She wore Atelier Pierrot too!|
I ran into Iruma again while wandering around the con. I spotted her and Nemu sitting outside in the main concourse, so I smiled and waved. Much to my surprise, they beckoned me over! Nemu said they were doing a live U-stream broadcast back to Japan at the moment. Nemu turned the camera on me and said, "This is a Hawaii Lolita!"
They asked if they could take a picture with me and my friend (who I had just met while wandering). The picture turned up on her official Facebook!
I was a little star struck, haha! I wonder if they'll come back in the Fall for Onicon, with Atelier Pierrot.
Well darlings, even if I wanted to write more right now I couldn't, because I'm exhausted. xD But please look forward to a part two and funny little memories from the convention. I should also be able to fill you in on more upcoming events here in Hawaii!
Also, I've gotten more questions about traveling in Japan, and I can't wait to answer!
Till then, stay tuned!