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If I asked you what aesthetic I’m describing when I say, “a volcanic eruption of Victorian-style frocks and frock coats, retro-ified technology, and cog-composed accessories,” would you be able to answer? Okay, you probably can; I kinda gave it away in this post’s title. I’m talking about steampunk.
Though it’s easy to recognize (look at ModCloth’s Steampunk Style section to get a bit of a better idea), steampunk is a bit harder to describe. Undaunted, though, I set out with a Captain Nemo-ean vengance in an effort to pin down a concise definition of this unlike-any-other style.
Steampunk — a sub-culture and aesthetic with roots dug deep in the eponymous literature genre, a blend of science fiction and fantasy. Steampunk is recognizable by its neo-19th century garb and retro-futuristic technology revamping, an overall look that could be described as Victorian science fiction.
Are you familiar with steampunk? How would you describe it?
I would describe Steampunk as Captain Nemo.
A adventurous combination of Victorian fashion and Victorian technology. Dress like it’s 1904 in an alternate universe, and you are going to fix your combat dirigible to go rescue your friend (comic relief) from the dastardly clutches of a cult bent on world domination with the help of a dashing, idealistic revolutionary.
“Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely usedâ€”usually Victorian era Britainâ€”that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc” – Wiki
I have done these costumes before and have had a blast making them and wearing them!
Steampunk is something that my boyfriend and I both love and we tend to describe it as “Victorian meets Industrial, elegant meets gritty, and technology meets classicism.”
I live in the land of hipsters (Asheville) and you often glimpse a hint of steampunk amongst the fedoras and tight pants, like a pair of vintage steampunk safety glasses. Hipster and steampunk don’t always go hand in hand, but they have an organic vintage connection.
A fashionable industrial revolution on steroids! Leather, top hats, rocket science, and the Full Metal Alchemist come to mind. Thanks for writing about Steampunk, Hannah! <3
mentioning FMA was completely correct 😀
I know it as the past that would’ve been if the future happened sooner.
At the heart of Steampunk is innovation, invention, and imagination. It produces a sense of wonder at fantastical elements, drawing on the potential of human creativity. It emphasizes vintage, industrial technology: steam power and clockwork devices. Wrap that up in a neo-Victorian world inspired by Jules Verne, and you have Steampunk.
I had previously worked on a short lived Steampunk web series. I always described it as Victorian Sci-Fi. There are many degrees of it. Many Japanese Anime are set in a Steampunk setting, especially Miyazaki Hayao’s films such as Laputa: The Castle in the Sky. There are also Steampunk bands, such as Abney Park.
The best description I’ve ever heard of steampunk is, “when goths discovered brown.” I wish I could take credit for it–a friend heard it at a library conference.
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