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Article 24 - October 04, 2010
Back to Chic Weekly

THE FASHION UNDERGROUND:

What is Steampunk?

chic weekly article What is Steampunk Love to Sew Studio

By Jessica Lynn Harris

   Steampunk first began as a literary genre in the 1980s. It 
is a form of speculative fiction that uses the setting and 
aesthetic of a mythical nineteenth century with fantastical 
steam-powered inventions. Steampunk literature claims its 
origins in early science fiction, as found in the work of Jules 
Verne and H.G. Wells. 

 

   Dirigibles, trains, and outlaws make up this world, a world 
which renders itself perfectly to fashion. Think top hats, 
pocket watches, tailcoats, riding boots, spats, and goggles are 
old fashion? In this case, old fashion does not necessarily mean 
out of fashion. Steampunk subculture is emerging, particularly 
throughout the West Coast. It’s the look of scientific explorer, 
a Victorian naturalist with a twenty-first century stylist.

 

   Kit Stolen, known online as Anachronaut, is California 
based designer and model famous within the Steampunk community. 
Familiarizing oneself with Kit’s various assemblages is great 
introduction to Steampunk fashion, as well as lovely, lovely eye 
candy. 

 

   You can purchase Steampunk costume and fashion through 
various online proprietors such as Chrononaut Mercantile and  
Steampunk Emporium. Additionally, Etsy has hundreds of clothing 
designers and jewelry artists who make Steampunk creations: 
ArtifactsNRelics for jewelry, Erihmann for goggles and other 
leather and brass works, Olgaitaly for Burlesque corsets, and 
Onceuponabustle for beautiful and authentic looking nineteenth 
century clothing, just to name a few. 

 

   More than just fashion and books, to the dedicated 
participant, Steampunk is a way of life. A person can reinvent 
(or invent from scratch) everything there is to fit into a 
Victorian aesthetic. Websites like The Steampunk Workshop teach 
readers how to change modern objects (like computers and 
telephones) to appear antiquated.  There’s even Steampunk music: 
Abney Park, the Seattle based band that formed in 1997.

 

   Of course, there’s no harm in reading the books. You may 
like to try a few of the classics in the genre, like The 
Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling or 
Infernal Devices by K.W. Jeter. Or perhaps you’d prefer newly 
published, second-wave Steampunk novels, like Boneshaker by 
Cherie Priest. For younger readers the His Dark Materials 
trilogy, beginning with The Golden Compass, is a great way to 
begin. 

 

   If you found this article interesting, be sure to read next 

 

Founder & Publisher: Judi Harris
Editor in Chief: Jessica Lynn Harris
Art & Photo Editor: Andrew DiMaio
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copyright 2010 Love To Sew
Article 24 October 04, 2010

 

 

 
 

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