“Kawaii” is a word well-known to fans of Japanese fashion. The dictionary definition of “kawaii” roughly translates as “cute”. But “kawaii” is much more than just a word! Today, the concept of Japanese Kawaii is not only an important part of Japanese culture, but a worldwide phenomenon as well. But it wasn’t always that way. There were people – pioneers – who brought the concept of “kawaii” into the world for all of us to enjoy!
Earlier this month, thousands of miles away from Japan in Los Angeles, a huge party was held to celebrate one of the “Father’s of Kawaii”, Rune Naito. The Rune Boutique exhibition brought together historic kawaii works by Mr. Naito and modern kawaii icons such as singer/model Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Harajuku fashion brand 6%DOKIDOKI, and Japanese toy company Medicom.
The Rune Boutique exhibition – through January 9th at the Royal/T Cafe in Culver City & produced by Bubble Punch – features original artwork, illustrations, character goods, and personal items from the late Japanese kawaii pioneer Rune Naito. Along with the never-before-seen-outside-of-Japan historical archive, the exhibition features brand new re-interpretations of Rune Naito’s work by Sebastian Masuda of 6%DOKIDOKI. Sebastian – who has received a lot of attention this year for his art direction on Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s music videos – is a strong believer in the “power of kawaii”. He has been creating kawaii fashion for his brand 6%DOKIDOKI for over 15 years. Sebastian created the collection of kawaii goods debuting at Rune Boutique with inspiration from Rune Naito’s original artwork.
One of Rune Naito’s most famous kawaii characters was the late-1960s/early-1970s “Runepanda”. The original Runepandas (along with their new updated versions) are featured in the Rune Boutique exhibition. It’s fascinating to see how even the late-1960s/early-1970s original resembles something that you would find in any Japanese character goods store today alongside Kitty and Totoro. This panda character with big cute eyes was created years before Hello Kitty even existed. The subtitle of the exhibition is “The Roots of Kawaii”, and with good reason!
The opening party for the Rune Boutique exhibition was a huge event in Los Angeles. Besides all of the Rune Naito goodness, the party also featured the American debut performance of Harajuku superstar Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. Kyary performed her recent hit songs (including “PonPonPon”) as well as modeling in a 6%DOKIDOKI fashion show. 6%DOKIDOKI pulled out all of the stops for their fashion show at the party. Not only did Kyary walk in the show, but they also brought both Yuka and Vani all the way from Harajuku to participate in the event. In addition to their womenswear show, the brand debuted their first ever menswear collection.
Just in case all of the Kyary x 6%DOKIDOKI x Rune Naito kawaii-ness wasn’t enough, Medicom Toy (the Japanese company who brought Bearbricks into the world) was on hand as well. Medicom recently released a super-colorful Bearbrick in collaboration with 6%DOKIDOKI. They also have many other characters and figures which have been a part of the kawaii movement. The Medicom items, 6%DOKIDOKI fashion and accessories, and the new Rune Naito goods are all available in a limited-time Rune Boutique popup shop at Royal/T.
The Rune Boutique opening party drew around 4,000 people – many of them dressed in cute Japanese (or Japanese-inspired) fashion. As it was held in Los Angeles, there were a number of celebrities and designers on hand (such as Die Antwoord and Onch Movement) for the VIP preview before the main event started. In addition to Kyary’s performance and the 6%DOKIDOKI fashion shows, there was a fashion contest where contestants dressed up in looks inspired by Rune Naito’s artwork, a photo session with Kyary, Vani & Yuka, a photo booth where attendees were photographed, good food, and various other things going on. It was an incredible night, and one that is very hard to sum up in photos or video. But that won’t stop us from trying!
Please check out the 500+ Rune Boutique opening party pictures below and enjoy (or re-live) the fun of Harajuku kawaii in Los Angeles! Also, don’t miss our related report – with even more pictures – on the 6%DOKIDOKI fashion shows at Rune Boutique!
Party Shots – Rune Boutique
6%DOKIDOKI Fashion Show – Rune Boutique
The 6%DOKIDOKI fashion show was so fun & colorful that we published a separate report on it. Please check out our 6%DOKIDOKI fashion show photos here! Photos by Dianne Garcia.
Rune Naito Pair Look Contest – Rune Boutique
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Live Performance – Rune Boutique
Kyary & 6%DOKIDOKI Group Photos – Rune Boutique
Attendee Fashion Photo Booth – Rune Boutique
Popup Shop & Rune Naito Artwork – Rune Boutique
VIP Party Shots – Rune Boutique
Click any of the Rune Boutique pictures to enlarge them.
The Rune Boutique exhibition runs through January 9, 2012 at Royal/T. If you’re in Southern California and you like Harajuku or kawaii things, definitely stop by and see it for yourself! Also don’t miss our related report on the 6%DOKIDOKI fashion show at Rune Boutique.
We would like to thank everyone from Rune Boutique for allowing us to cover their exhibition and opening party. That list of thank-yous includes – but is not limited to – the family of Rune Naito, 6%DOKIDOKI, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu & Asobi System, Medicom Toy, Royal/T, and Bubble Punch.
For more information on Rune Boutique, or any of the participants, please see the following links:
- Rune Boutique Official Website
- Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
- 6%DOKIDOKI Official FB Page
- Medicom Toy
- Royal/T Cafe
- Bubble Punch
Photos by Dianne Garcia & Eron Rauch.