Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fashion as Steampunk

Allow me to begin by saying that while Radha and I design and create a fair amount of Steampunk Fashion, our tastes are specialized and specific.  On the other hand, we try to keep one or more ensembles based on fashions in some part of the world (where our fictional characters are adventuring a lot) in each century from around 1500 forward, so we cover a much broader range of unusual timelines for Steampunk Outfit influences than most.  In spite of that, no one, and I really mean no one person, can possibly be or say the "Law" as it were about "Steampunk Fashion".  This is one of the areas where the "Punk" meaning social rebellion against excessive control, is far more critical than the "Steam" which refers to time periods where steam power was, or might have been, a major influence on society.  Keep in mind that the steam engine was actually invented around 260 BC by Archimedes, but lack of metallurgy and scientific knowledge about gas laws and use of gas expansion were still needed to make effective boilers or pistons.  Even with that caveat, in the alternative history realm of Steampunk Fiction, the steam powered industrial revolution could have occurred in any century where the local powers had mastered effective use of gunpowder and cannon.  The same knowledge and skills were basically what was needed to make a crude boiler and contain the power without industrial accidents, so suggesting that, oh say "Ray Guns" could have existed in Victorian times (which is totally ludicrous without either time travel or extraterrestrial contact due to the power supply problems alone) , but that steam power could not have existed in the 1500s, means only that the person expounding this theory has a limited grasp of the history of what was occurring during the times of Leonardo de Vinci.  Just the same, I will write mostly about what we do and list links to the opinions of others about we know far less about.

Take a look at these links for example:

This is probably the most broad and pervasive area and most visible face of the Steampunk movement.  It includes things as diverse as semi-historical or history style inspired clothing from around the world during the era of Queen Victoria of England (and often the century before that) to a post apocalyptic vision of how things might look if we use styles from the past and mix them with low tech solutions to functional, often combat or exploration focused ensembles in a time when the information age ends and both electric power plants and oil refinery plants grind to halt.  As a result, it is presumed in this speculative future that steam power and steam engines are likely to return along with more bulky and far less miniaturized electronics mixed with old fashioned types of metalwork and gunpowder weapons.  As many of these might need to be hand made, once the modern cartridges are all used up, black powder weapons may resurface again as well.  On the other hand, many envision this time as one where a few, very high technology weapons and gadgets survive along side very low tech. clothing manufacturing methods, iron age weapons, and at least some bits and pieces of older styles of armor to stop the various knives, spears, bows, clubs, that would resume their place as the most common weapons around. I will try to show some of the most interesting (to me at least) and varied ensembles I can find photos of.  I will try to avoid anything copyrighted and to give credit where it is due.  If I fail in this, please feel free to bring it to my attention, so I can correct it as soon as possible.  This is intended to educate, enlighten, amuse, and bring people together, not to cause conflict in any way.

One place that carries photos of some of the finest and most varied selections of Steampunk and Clockpunk fashion is the Steampunk Empire site.  There are also some you tube videos worth looking at that I will simply post as a link below.

I am including below group photos of a Local Steampunk Tea at A-Kon 2010, of a Steampunk Illumination Society Meeting, and of a joint meeting between the local costumer's guild and said Steampunk Illumination Society.  I'll also post a few pictures from an Asian Pop Culture Night and Fashion Show at the Dallas Crow Colletion Museum of Asian Art where Vice Admiral Narasimhan and I participated as their token Steampunk entries. (although a few of the Lolita style girls and one other entry could easily slide at least partially into the broad definition of Steampunk Attire)

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