Royal T maid cafe and art gallery in Culver City, Los Angeles.

Around this time of the year, I itch to be in Los Angeles (where I often spend the summer), and it worsens when I hear about the surreal parties I’m missing. Last Saturday, there was a double whammy: 1) a Gothic & Lolita book signing by Masayuki Yoshinaga; 2) the grand opening of Royal/T, a 10,000-square-foot art space, store, and maid café.

That’s right – Culver City now has a “meido” café, where waitresses in cute black and white dresses serve you tea and sweets. It’s possibly the only one in North America (Toronto’s version has closed). Feminists, put down your axes: the experience is far less intense than in Japan, where servers kneel on the ground and cry, “Welcome home, Master!” Here, they’ll just chirp, “Welcome to Royal/T!”

Royal T cosplay cafe and modern art gallery, store, museum in LA. Works by Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Hideaki Kawashima.

The story behind Royal/T? Art collector Susan Hancock wanted a befitting space for her collection of Japanese modern art, which includes works by my favorite neo-pop stars Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, and Hideaki Kawashima. She hired Goto Design to transform a gigantic warehouse into a combination gallery, museum, shop, and cosplay restaurant. The firm did a stunning job. Paintings hang behind Plexiglass cubes that resemble anime display cases. The exterior façade is covered by fake boxwood leaves, in homage to a scene in Spirited Away (a favorite film of Ronan and mine). Nara’s iconic white dog sculpture happily guards the front window.

At the official opening, Yoshinaga signed copies of Phaidon’s Gothic & Lolita (reviewed here by yours truly). The gallery was covered floor to ceiling with photos of girls from his lookbook. WWD reports: “Life imitated art as partygoers donned their own kawaii looks. One fellow came in a skirt adorned with a map of Kansas. In case that wasn’t enough of a statement, he brought a stuffed animal, too. Nearby was a young woman with a panda tattoo on her leg. But Katherine Moennig of The L Word said jeans and a T-shirt were just fine for her. “They’re nuts,” she said of those wearing the wackiest ensembles. “But I can appreciate it.””

Katherine Moennig plays Shane from The L Word. Androgynous dandy kodona fashion.
Now I really wish I were there! I’m enamored with Katherine Moennig’s androgynous look – anyone else in the same boat? Her skinny ties and natty trousers are excellent inspiration for kodonas and dandies.

You can see more photos of the Royal/T event on Metromix LA. Hear me now – by the end of the summer, I’ll have visited the café in person.

† Address: 8910 Washington Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232
† Hours: Café: 10 am – 6 pm † Shop: 10 am – 6 pm † Art Space: 10 am – 6 pm
† Closed Mondays † Metered parking in front, free parking in back
† Phone: 310-559-6300
† Fax: 310-559-6633
† URL: