Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Steampunk: A Note

What exactly is Steampunk?

To put it simply, Steampunk is a subcultural trend, a descendant of fantasy and sci-fi, whose aesthetic is a blend of science and magic, and it’s based on the daydream: When the people of 19th century Victorian England imagined the future, what did they see?

Just like we picture Star Trek and space colonies, sleek steel and tiny computers, they might have pictured steam-powered information-gathering and organizing devices, dirigibles and airships that actually work. Steampunk combines today’s technology with the technology of the Industrial Revolution, the sense of adventure that came with the height of Orientalism, and the constant sense of discovery that infused culture in the 19th century.

And then submerse it in sepia tones and make it run on steam and clockwork and maybe a little bit of magic.

Think of Jules Verne and Mary Shelly. Think of the World’s Fair. Think of Adventure and Innovation, Exploration and Invention.

Some Links for the Curious:

I think madbrewlabs.com puts is very succinctly, and really gets at what Kris and I love about it:

"Airships, clockwork contraptions, steam engines, gears, cogs, Victorian fashion, gaslights, and of course, goggles. All of these trappings hold the flavor of Steampunk… I usually think of Steampunk as 19th century earth but with anachronistic technology, or rather, modern devices created with 19th century technology. Usually steam-powered, hence steampunk. It is what would have happened if the Industrial Revolution went wild. So we have determined the first root of the word steampunk, but what about the other part? I tend to believe that the punk is derived from the rebellious, swashbuckling element of the genre. Adventure. Defiance. Many stories of the genre defy established social mores, religious dogma, and government philosophies. Punk also embodies the do-it-yourself anthem of the Steampunk culture."
So now that you have a grasp of the basics, on to fashion.
If you’re worried about what to wear, don’t. Easy as that. We want you to be comfortable and have fun. But if you want to dress up, feel free! Go wild with some Victorian costuming! Combine an underbust corset with your favorite pair of corduroy pants! It could be as complex as a whole costume with bustle and corset or vest and bowler hat, pocket watch and coattails, or as simple as a necklace made of clockwork pieces from an old watch or a pair of aviator goggles thrown on with your dress. The point is to have fun above all else, so if you don’t feel comfortable dressing up in costume, don’t worry about it! We love you.

Also, I just want to take this chance to note- since the wedding will be out-doors, you might want to make sure you're wearing comfortable, sturdy shoes, rather than those sexy spiked heels I know each and every one of you keeps in the back of the closet for those unexpected special luncheons with the president.

Some Links for the Fashion-Conscious:
(Now, just to be clear, neither Kris nor I mean for these links to encourage you to BUY BUY BUY. Not at all. Rather, these links bring you to some awesome resources of inspiration and idea-gathering. Steampunk fashion is very easy to DIY if you are so inclined, and if you aren't inclined to dress up like this at all, it's absolutely NO BIG DEAL.)

That said, the wikipedia article on steampunk had a really great description of steampunk fashion:

“'Steampunk fashion' has no set guidelines, but tends to synthesize modern styles as filtered through the Victorian era. This may include gowns, corsets, petticoats and bustles; gentlemen's suits with vests, coats and spats; or even military-inspired garments. Often, steampunk outfits will be accented with a mixture of technological and period accessories: timepieces, parasols, goggles and ray guns.”

Also, just because I can't resist the opportunity to reccommend some good books or movies or cartoons and what-have-you, here's a list of some steampunk media, just to give you an idea:

  • Disney's Treasure Planet or Atlantis (although, Atlantis as a movie was kind of terrible.)
  • Jules Verne, Mary Shelly, H.G. Wells
  • The Movies Howl's Moving Castle and Castle in the Sky
  • The graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  • The webcomic FreakAngels ( http://www.freakangels.com/ )
  • The anime Last Exile
There. I hope that was helpful, rather than daunting. And if it was daunting, you know what? Don't sweat it. Don't worry. Come to a Party about Love that happens to be decorated kinda weird. Wear something you'll be comfortable in. Enjoy laughing at all those weird kids. Shake your head at how we'll look back at this one day and wonder what got into us. And have FUN.

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