Code Word “Steampunk”
By Cindy Haynes
There is fashion that goes in and out of style depending on the decade, but “Steampunk” has hit the U.S.A. in the past year with a tremendous force. Whether this sudden love of steampunk fashion comes from being in a world where the Game of Thrones is ‘the’ show to watch, who knows? Perhaps it’s the world of science fiction that has come back so strongly, with Star Wars being the one thing that every person in the world is waiting impatiently to see this Christmas. Maybe it even comes from the dystopian age that’s taking over in literature (“The Maze Runner” trilogy which became bestsellers and went directly to the movies). But whatever it is, this style that is all-encompassing, including fantasy, technology, and designs inspired by 19th-century steam-powered machinery, is cropping up from NYC to L.A. to all places in between. Even the well-know, yet diminutive town, of Roswell, NM recently held their Cosmicon and the theme of the entire event was “Steampunk.”
For those who are unaware, steampunk came about from taking history and combining it with industrial technology. Take the Victorian era in Britain, the Wild West persona of America, and combine it with the industrial and artistic. (H.G. Wells and Jules Verne are two that wrote about this fashion and frame of mind better than anyone).
The Game of Thrones comes into play when talking about the elements of fantasy, history and horror, used to create the hybrid fashion.
Confused yet? Understood. Just walking down the streets of Roswell this past July 4th weekend, the steampunk fashions were more than interesting to admire. There are no set guidelines to what some would consider costumes, yet are used as everyday clothing by the steampunk lovers. Modern clothing is simply altered, adding Victorian bustles, corsets, and petticoats; to suits with waistcoats or top hats for the males. There is always at least one period piece in the ensemble whether choosing a big, bold pocket watch or perhaps aviator goggles. And, of course, even with the ‘past’ there is no eliminating the ‘must-have’ accessory. Cell phones are incorporated into any steampunk fashion, although they are dressed up to match the rest of the outfit, appearing as Victorian-made objects. There were even those in Roswell who added post-apocalyptic elements, such as gas masks, to their creations.
Aristocratic, romantic, apocalyptic, industrial clothing… There’s a mouthful.
You may think (wish or hope) that steampunk fashion will go out of style as quickly as it has come in. But steampunk clothing companies are actually in existence: “Kato” was the first. And predictions in 2013, were (with sources being social media, blogs, and general news), that steampunk would actually become a major trend that would take over all facets of the retail industry completely. Were the predictors right? Fact: Prada, Chanel, Dior, and other large fashion names, have introduced steampunk styles of their own.
Seems that America will be taking avant-garde to a whole new level, as the Steampunk culture takes over and proves that it is most definitely here to stay.