Hello Kitty's canine cousin Rebecca Bonbon is latest Japanese craze in the making

Meet Rebecca Bonbon. She's not from around here, but chances are you'll be seeing a lot more of her in the near future. Rebecca was born in Paris but has lived most of her life in New York (it's a long story), and if your paths have never crossed, it simply means that you haven't been hanging out in the right circles.

Madamoiselle Bonbon, you see, is not any old French bulldog; you won't catch her sniffing random bottoms or watering tree-trunks in her local park – and for the record, you can be sure that this dignified little lady doesn't answer to wolf-whistles.

Rather, for the past five years, Rebecca Bonbon – so-called because of her taste for sugary confectionery – would most likely have been found picking out glitzy accessories and floral hairclips in New York's fashionable boutiques, or gossiping with friends over long, civilised picnics. But as of next month, those lazy days will be a thing of the past, as she prepares to take her first step towards international mega-stardom. If her family record is anything to go by, it won't be long before this little-known pooch is a household name.

Despite being different animals altogether, Rebecca is in fact a cousin of one of the world's best-loved graphic characters, Hello Kitty. The iconic feline was created by Yuko Shimizu back in 1974.

Since then, Hello Kitty's become a global superstar, with legions of fans across the generations. And now, four decades after the Hello Kitty empire came into being, Shimizu is hoping to emulate its success with her doe-eyed canine. Although, as the artist explains from her Tokyo apartment, it was not a promising start for Rebecca.

In 2005, Shimizu started a series of illustrations of her pet cats (she has four), but by some happy twist of fate, these sketches ended up looking more like a dog. Some re-thinking was required, which led to some re-working, and finally, a little further down the line, the refined French bulldog was born. Since then, Rebecca has been leading a relatively quiet life, but all that is about to change...

Next month, the Rebecca Bonbon brand will be officially launched with a range of back-to-school stationery (available in WH Smiths), to be followed by a series of T-shirts, dog clothing and soft toys. As the Hello Kitty brand has shown, the marketing possibilities are endless.

Despite an unsettling start to life, Rebecca has emerged a happy and well-adjusted creature, firmly ensconced in a spacious apartment overlooking Central Park and, with the help of the internet, is making friends all over the world.

While Shimizu insists that Rebecca is terribly discreet and wouldn't dream of disclosing the names of her celebrity pals, a quick peek at the photos on her Facebook site, in particular an album entitled "Mes Amis", reveals that Bo – President Obama's dashing Portuguese water hound – and several of Paris Hilton's impossibly tiny chihuahuas are among her closest friends.

Even before her launch as international mega-star, Rebecca has become so popular – and not just with the doggy jet-set crowd ("she wants to spread happiness across the world") – that as well as regularly updating her Facebook page, she's had to create a Twitter account and her own website (rebeccabonbon.com) to keep fans up-to-speed with her girl-about-town antics.

Clearly such an attractive young bitch has her fair share of male admirers to contend with too, but her creator will not be drawn on whether or not there's a Monsieur Bonbon waiting in the wings: "For now, she's looking forward to what lies ahead," is all Shimizu will say. And in any case, she adds, let it be clear: "Rebecca Bonbon doesn't kiss and tell!".

Suggested Topics
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing

Other places that have held independence referendums
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's most starring part

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Portfolio Analyst - Prince2

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client, a glob...

Project Co-ordinator - Birmingham - Permanant

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Head of Maths

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Head of Maths position at a prestigious ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week