It finally happened. After half a year of planning, making reservations, and averting crises, I was finally able to attend Paradiso. For those unfamiliar, Paradiso is an annual two-day J-Fashion Gala in Kansas City, Missouri hosted by the local community. It has attendees from all around the United States and features local and international guests. Since being active in the fashion, one of my goals has been to attend this event – seeing so many beautiful reviews and documentation online.
Having arrived early to the pre-party, we were able to secure a table and lay out our items. It was heart-warming to see so many lolitas in one room all walking around excitedly. I was able to sell off most of my items, which worked out great because I walked out with much more than I came with. My best purchase of the night was BTSSB’s Blessings From St. Michael JSK in navy from @reyreichel who was so nice for putting up with my indecisiveness all night. I also finally got to meet @frillyberry, a friend from the Lolita Amino.
My coord for this day was a casual ouji look, centered around my Stigmata shorts and a Bodyline blouse. My shorts actually popped a button but was thankfully rescued by the ever lovely @bat_or_sweet. Overall, the event was very fun and I’m glad I was able to take part in it.
The next day, I got up at 6:00AM with Pan Keiko’s help to prepare for the fashion show. Being myself, I forgot to braid my hair the night before and resorted to a last minute fix. After doing my base makeup and coordinate, I headed out to Union Station. Uncharacteristically, I arrived half an hour before the model call time because I wanted to have time to find the event room in the very likely case that I get lost. But as luck would have it, I found the organizers’ poofs right away and was led inside the venue.
The check in process had a bit of a rough start. We were given different directions by staff but once that was settled, we were able to get backstage and start preparing. I was modeling for Ikemen Mode, a US-based ouji fashion brand. We got some basic guidelines from the CEO, Adi Hagar, and began fixing our hair and makeup in earnest. I found that we had quite a bit of spare time, but I think this was mostly because we were doing our own preparations instead of lining up for one makeup artist.
I began to get hungry, but sadly, the venue had food restrictions and we were only supplied with bottled water. I did, however, prepare some snacks the night before. And because we had a lot of time, I nibbled through my cheeses, flatbread, and prosciutto in between chatting with my fellow models.
When 10:30 rolled around, we were able to access the vendor booths where I proceeded to film like a loon. And that’s when it happened. I met Tyler Willis. (Note to self: When meeting someone you admire, don’t start a conversation by saying “I love you,” wide-eyed and shakily.) She was so sweet and composed, and just an absolute gem. Tyler even let me hug her on camera, and I was shaking so badly afterwards that I worried I wouldn’t be able to walk onstage.
I had to compose myself, though, because we soon went onstage to rehearse our show and then change into our coordinates. Backstage, I was in utter amazement at how calmly Adi and Sheri (Ikemen Mode’s designer) were able to handle delegating our roles and dressing us up with a model also dropping out last minute. As soon as we were all properly coordinated, we took pictures and got some final tips and encouragement. Both Adi and Sheri were just so chill. They wanted us to go up on stage and have fun and play around, which was so refreshing and made preparations a lot less nerve-wracking.
After our show, we headed backstage to change into our own coordinates. I was pretty sad to take off the super comfortable clothes I had on, but I still had wearing Princess Cat to console me. I ended up missing most of the brands’ shows except for Angelic Pretty and Triple Fortune, both of which showcased lovely clothes. I wish I could have taken more videos backstage instead of being shy and awkward. Thankfully, I got to meet and model with cool people like @___laudanum___ and @sleepyfae.
I went around the booths some more after the show but noticed that people crowded a bit too heavily on one side of the hall, making the other parts feel too empty. There wasn’t much on sale that caught my interest, to my wallet’s relief. I also met Tyler again and was able to give her a pusheen coin purse.
The final event we attended were three Q and As for the brand designers. There were some awkward moments of silence when people ran out of questions, but it went smoothly thanks to the host. My favorite part of this segment was seeing Babi-san and Kaie-san of Triple Fortune shaking their heads and showing off how sturdy their hairstyles were.
Finally, it was time for the day’s events to end, and we headed out for dinner.
The last day of the gala began with a tour of the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures. This was an additional event where guests can pay for a group tour guided by a museum docent. I was very much looking forward to wandering the museum but I’m saddened to say that I didn’t really get to explore much outside of what the docent focused on. We were, of course, allowed to wander by ourselves but it felt a bit rude to trail off very often. We also could have kept going around the museum after the tour, but it would have left little time for us to get to the tea party in time. So while it was a fun idea, I think I’ll skip on a guided tour next year and stick to going around unsupervised.
Getting to The Little Theatre was uneventful, but I was amused seeing confused graduates gawk at petticoated people entering the building next to their ceremony. We wasted no time lining up for the entrance to the tea party so we could get good spots. During the wait, I got to meet @zippertan and @linawicked – both of whom we tabled with.
Inside the hall, I got around to mingling with people and taking pictures with them. I found it super fun to recognize lolitas I talked to the day before, and I was still floored by how many people complimented me on my performance during the fashion show. All this was happening inside a gorgeous octagonal ballroom with marble columns and astrology sculptures lining the wall. The beauty of the room was accentuated by the soft golden light, which also allowed me to marvel at the geometric engravings on the ceiling framing a chandelier. Soon, we sat down as the tea service began.
Now, I love food. I’ll eat anything as long as it’s good. But the food served to us was mediocre at best. The tea selection didn’t complement the food, the plating was messy and inconsistent, the dips were bland, and there wasn’t enough hot water provided for the table. Few things I can praise for this meal but the fruits and vegetables were pleasant – food which didn’t need much in the way of preparation. None of the food really suited the theme, either, which was probably the most disappointing. I very much enjoyed the company of the people around me, which made the meal better, but I do hope the organizers choose a better caterer for next year.
On to better events, there was a Q and A with the Ouji-sama Pageant judges and they gave interesting answers. While I don’t remember Adi’s direct quote about fashion, the sentiment is that two people can wear the same thing but look extremely different based on how they feel about and carry the clothes they wear. As someone who struggled with clothing for a long time, I was quite moved by his statement.
After a quick break, the Ouji-sama Pageant began, and we were treated to a delightful sight of princes traipsing down the ballroom and performing their skits amidst the eager audience. Sadly, the poor acoustics in the room made it hard to understand the Q and A portion so I can’t comment on it. But it was very fun to watch the princes woo their partners and work the audience. My favorite was Prince Mayes who had a spectacular coord and stage presence, even as they worked through some difficulty in their skit. Prince Lapine won the pageant in a beautifully crafted coord and touching dance alongside their matching partner.
After the Triple Fortune designers chose their two favorite coordinates, the official event ended and we got to mingle with other attendees again before leaving to prepare for the after-party. I’d like to say I remembered specific events at Tapcade, but being the lightweight that I am, the evening is mostly a blur of neon arcade lights, delicious dark beer, and the feeling of being happily kabedonned by The Bloody Tea Party and Mischievous Pixi.
This weekend was overall amazing. I was tired for most of it, but it took a backseat to the complete awe I felt being surrounded by wonderful people in equally gorgeous coordinates. The Paradiso staff really came through with making sure the event was well-executed, barring the faulty caterer. There wasn’t a dull moment over the weekend, and I cannot recommend attending the gala enough. The entire event was simply amazing – and I’m so thankful for the people who organized it.
Hello, beautiful person! Congratulations for making it to the end of my word vomit review. I’m sorry for not posting in a month, but I do have several blog posts lined up for the coming weeks! There will also be another post detailing my Kansas City trip outside of Paradiso, so please stay tuned~