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Steampunk: An Overview

Posted August 26, 2009 to photo album "Steampunk: An Overview"

In anticipation of the release of Shane Acker’s steampunk-influenced animation 9, Jeff Vandermeer presents a primer on the fantasy subgenre.

Slide 1: An Introduction
Slide 2: Jules Verne
Slide 3: The American "Edisonade"
Slide 4: The Rise of Modern Steampunk
Slide 5: The Role of
Slide 6: The Aesthetic Influence on Movies
Slide 7: The Role of DIY Fashion
Slide 8: Steampunk Art
Slide 9: Reimagining Technology Through the Maker Movement
Slide 10: The Future of Steampunk
Slide 7: The Role of DIY Fashion

Slide 7: The Role of DIY Fashion

Steampunk fashion is all about doing it yourself while still creating something beautiful. Gail Carringer, pictured above, designs some of her own clothes and is also a Steampunk scholar and novelist.

Carringer says of her dress that “The top part is a Dark Garden corset I deconstructed (read: tore apart). I then sewed a whole bunch of old metal buttons and beads of different sizes onto the bottom of and then attached an old metal belt. Along the bust line I attached brass teaspoons from the 1950s I found in the garage (just because), and I used brass paperclips to attach cover buttons down the front. The skirt part is made from two thrift store finds with curtain ruffles attached. Hanging from my belt are some World War II army pouches. The hat is made from a 1960's velvet fez, bent into a new position, and decorated within an inch of its life.”

Libby Bulloff, fashion designer and editor of Steampunk Magazine, says: “What keeps me interested in what steampunk fashion has become is the fact that nearly all of the best of it is heavily detailed, massively modified, and personalized down to the underpinnings to reflect the needs and desires of the wearer. Unlike mainstream clothing, steampunk fashion is whimsical, cheeky, questionable, and totally unique.”

Steampunk fashion incorporates elements from several other traditions, including punk, goth, movies, comics, and Victorian history. As Bulloff says, “You'll never see two steampunks wearing identical outfits unless they've outright done it on purpose for laughs. Even if an outfit is impractical, ill-fitting, poorly sewn, or just looks wrong, the wearer always seems one hundred percent dauntless. That kind of tenacity does not exist anywhere else.”