Royal/T is preparing to close its Culver City digs. The popular restaurant/art gallery cultivated a unique vibe with a staff dressed in costumes inspired by Japanese maid cafes and a variety of unusual events. While the physical location is closing, there's more in store for the popular local brand.
“Although Royal/T's Culver City location will be closing after five amazing years, this moment marks an exciting time for an expansion on what Royal/T has always done,” says owner Susan Hancock. “Royal/T will be announcing in the near future an upcoming series of roaming special events, exhibits, shows, brand partnerships and pop-ups in Los Angeles and around the world, so please stay tuned.”
An official closing date has not been announced, but the venue's final show, “The Art of Cooking” will run April 27 through Aug. 1.
Royal/T's events ran the gamut from famed chef Ludovic Lefebvre's LudoBites to last weekend's sneak preview of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic season finale. Beyond that, the venue became a meeting spot for a fashionable L.A. youth culture that has its roots in anime conventions but evolved into its own, distinct scene. Japanese singers like Kanon Wakeshima and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu played here. Dance club Tune in Tokyo moved to Royal/T last year and flourished. I made it out to a lot of these events and below are my five favorites.
5. Kanon Wakeshima makes her L.A. debut
There was no doubt that Kanon Wakeshima's first show in Los Angeles would be a hit. The Japanese singer/cellist embraces the Gothic and elegant Gothic Lolita (EGL) look that was gaining popularity in Los Angeles in 2009. She worked with visual kei star/fashion designer/EGL originator Mana and her music was featured in the popular anime series Vampire Knight. But the turnout for Wakeshima exceeded my own expectations on that scorching July day when the back room of Royal/T was so packed that it was hard to see the performance. The crowd seemed enamored by Wakeshima, with many people staying beyond the performance to buy her illustrations and meet the artist.
4. OnchMovement opens Perfectasy pop-up shop
L.A.-based artist Onch has gone from appearing on the reality show Paris Hilton's My New BFF to designing accessories that appear on celebrities like Nicki Minaj. He relishes cute, quirky designs that make a statement and poured a ton of whimsy into his Royal/T pop-up shop last summer. Onch brought in a mermaid and a unicorn for the event and debuted new projects, like the “Tentacle Woman” necklaces he created with fellow artist Misha.
See also: “OnchMovement Pop-Up Shop, Perfectasy, Opens at Royal/T on August 4”; “OnchMovement and Misha Reveal 'Tentacle Women' Collaboration for Perfectasy Opening at Royal/T” and “OnchMovement Pop-Up Shop Perfectasy Opens @ Royal/T” (Pics).
3. Diamond Gal Circle throws Holiday Hot Mess
The ladies from Diamond Gal Circle proved that there's more to Japanese street fashion than Lolita when they threw Holiday Hot Mess. The event celebrated gyaru, or gal, fashion. Gal is essentially the opposite of Lolita. It's sexy — with an emphasis on short skirts, high heels, tans and big hair — and completely modern. In late 2010, the style was becoming increasingly more popular in Los Angeles and Diamond Gal Circle did a great job of explaining the movement to those of us who aren't in it.
2. Sebastian Masuda brings Rune Naito's art and Kyaru Pamyu Pamyu to Los Angeles
Fashion designer Sebastian Masuda, of 6%Dokidoki , stopped by last fall to debut his new collaboration with late illustrator Rune Naito. There was a fashion show, a pop-up store featuring T-shirts and other goods based on Naito's popular illustrations of young women, and a small exhibition of the artist's work. But Masuda and the 6%Dokidoki crew didn't come alone. Internet sensation Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, whose hyper-cute videos were art-directed by Masuda, made her L.A. debut with a short concert at the opening night party.
1. Hello Kitty celebrates her 35th birthday at Royal/T
Royal/T's landmark event was certainly the monthlong celebration of Hello Kitty's 35th anniversary, dubbed “Three Apples.” The epic bash centered around a group art show based on the famed kitten and numerous themed parties. The celebrity-studded opening night was one of the hottest parties in Los Angeles, with people waiting in line for hours to have the chance to get inside. The Goth-friendly Bats and Cats Masquerade focused less on Hello Kitty's famous fans but was equally crowded. The 2009 event solidified Royal/T's reputation as the place for unusual, and often over-the-top, themed events.