Introduction to Steampunk Fashion

Steampunk fashion is a style of dress, often based on Victorian fashion that incorporates modern materials and design principles. I have to admit that I’m getting big into Steampunk lately. It started with corsets, boots and then a skirt. I think I’m going all out…

What is Steampunk?

A variety of styles have emerged within the broader Steampunk community, some focused around anachronistic technology (such as computers or motorcycles), and others around a general Victorian aesthetic.

The word ‘steampunk’ was coined in 1987 as a pun on the speculative fiction genres of Star Trek and cyberpunk, referring to “Victorian-era science fiction”. The author Kevin J. Anderson used it to describe his novel ‘The Difference Engine’, (1991) which is considered a seminal work of the steampunk genre.

The term was quickly appropriated to describe other works of Victorian-based science fiction, such as Neal Stephenson’s ‘The Diamond Age’ (1995), which has no overt connections with Star Trek or cyberpunk. In 1996, the film ‘Wild Wild West’, even though it was set in the 1870s, was described as a ‘steampunk Western’ due to its depiction of highly advanced technology. …

The term was also used in the description of at least four music albums: The Natural History’s self-titled album (2000), Steampunktrommler’s ‘Victorian Futurism’ (2001), the electronic music duo Melodium’s ‘Steampunk’ (2008), and J. R. Rook’s “Steampunk Trilogy” (2009).

What do steampunks wear?

Steampunk fashion is based on a Victorian aesthetic, and features top hats, goggles, tailcoats and bustles.

The source of inspiration for steampunk fashions vary. While some may opt to go with a simple low-key approach with modern clothing, others prefer elaborate things. Some would say that steampunk costume can never be too elaborate.

Steampunk fashion is heavily influenced by technological advances in the Victorian era and has its roots in the Renaissance period. It was this period that saw two major developments that paved the way for the modern fashion world – metal frameworks (or underpinnings) and interchangeable clothing parts. …Steampunk is an interpretative style that draws on Victorian-era sensibilities, such as industrialism and class hierarchy…

Steampunk is on the up!

Steampunk fashion has become increasingly popular since the 1990s, and can be considered a growing subculture.

In October 2009, the first London Fashion Week exhibition showcasing steampunk fashions was held at the “Riverside Gallery”. The show ‘Timeless Teapot’ featured several designers including Vivienne Westwood’s daughter, Cora Emmanuel. …With steampunk continuing to attract a growing fanbase, it is not hard to imagine that more designers will soon release their own unique interpretations of the genre.

In many steampunk designs, materials are combined in ways not normally found together. Despite this, every material has its place and purpose.

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