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Steampunk

Quaintrelles, Dandies, and Flâneurs #2

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Time for another installment of my vintage punk street fashion column! Sticking with casual menswear, I'd like to introduce a gentleman that Jake and I acquired this past summer at the Bay Area Maker Faire. This is industrial designer Noah Beasley, originally hailing from Denver, CO. Noah does groundbreaking things with 3D metal printing to create jewelry with a sci-fi flair. He also rocks the geek chic to the elevens.

We shot these photos a few weeks ago outside of the Oddfellows Building in Capitol Hill, Seattle.

One of the best ways I've found to accurately convey a classy vintage punk style is to embrace time-honored trends (like traditional, tailored menswear), and then crank them up a notch with a slap of funky color. Noah is the ninja of cobalt blue.

Yr Doin' It Right #1 - Sunday Driver

One of my most common rants about steampunk style involves long-winded kvetching about the forgotten Eastern influences on the genre. I'll spare you the snarky details, but it comes to this: I want to know why I practically never see steampunks tapping into the deliciously decadent culture of India. I want to know to where Captain Nemo disappeared. Considering the rule of the British Raj in India from 1858 to 1957, Victoria's title of "Empress of India", and the 200-year force in the country of the British East India Trading Company (who dealt in tea, silk, cotton, indigo, and opium as well as political oppression), I am rather surprised that very few steampunks reflect this in their garb and choice of music.

However, a band called Sunday Driver was brought to my attention1 this week, and let me tell you--these folks are definitely doin' it right. Their music is a careful and delicate fusion of Indian chant and English folk, laden with formidable female vocals and subtly morbid and mad lyrics (their band name supposedly came from a gene commonly found in mice!). The sound is energetic, crisply recorded, and each song is entirely different, keeping Sunday Driver on rotation over my speakers all week.

Just saying . . .

 

From the recent Victoria's Secret runway show . . . granted, the source material is the same.

Jake's 2009 Steampunk Gift Guide - A few of my favorite things.

This year I decided to do something a little different with my gift guide. Rather than try for a steampunk theme, I decided to apply a steampunk philosophy.

I thought back over the things that I purchased that have pleased me greatly.  Often they were purchases that I agonized over.  Purchases where I stretched and bought something I really couldn't afford or where I bought the most expensive version of something rather than heeding the conventional wisdom of "shooting the middle."  

To quote Bruce Sterling:

It's not bad to own fine things that you like. What you need are things that you GENUINELY like. Things that you cherish, that enhance your existence in the world. The rest is dross.

So enjoy, these are a few of my favorite things . . . 

 

Datamancer and Der Clacker!

 

Get a glimpse of Datamancer's latest "OMG, I squeed my pants!" casemod: The Clacker on German TV on Doc's own blog.

Vice Versus series on VBS.tv Covers Steampunk

 
The VBS.tv series Vice Versus covers Steampunk. If you're an East Coast steampunk or hang out in The SteamFashion Community on LJ you'll see many familiar faces here in as a bunch of NY steamers visit the New York Anime Festival and talk about  steampunk and Anime's Neo-Victorian influences and connections.

"The Devil's Cloth" - Stripes In Steampunk

Steampunk style--what is it?

As tempting as it is to begin my residency here at SPWS as fashion reporter with a verbose and pretentious tirade about style philosophy, I believe my audience is likely informed and intelligent enough to already know enough about the genre to grok the basics.

Let me make this quick so we're all on the same page: I will address steampunk fashion as a style of dress that has nostalgic elements lifted from the 19th century (and other time periods, not limited to the past) married to speculative nods toward the fantastic, cheeky, or romantic. I think we can all [mostly] agree on this vasty description.

So, with that out of the way, let's talk nuances. Let's talk about one of my favorite style motifs, one that belongs equally well to the mainstream as well to a plethora of subcultures: STRIPES. There are entire books on the pattern, including a fantastic read by Michel Pastoureau called The Devil's Cloth: A History of Stripes. Pastoureau considers the stripe as an optical illusion of sorts that "clarifies and obscures the view, disturbs the mind, confuses the senses". Marvelous!

Fashion Fridays at the Steampunk Workshop

A few weeks ago, over some fine whiskey, Jake von Slatt asked me if I would be interested in writing for Steampunk Workshop on the topic of fashion trends within the genre. Part of me jumped for joy at another opportunity to collaborate with Jake...and admittedly, a voice in my subconscious whined "What's left to talk about steampunk fashion? It's been at the summit of the internet zeitgeist for years, it's been done to death with a gaggle of goggles and shades of sepia, and it's mainstreamed." portmanteau - libby bulloff 2008

However, these reasons are exactly why I do have a lot of things to say about steam fashion. While it has popularized to the point of being represented at cons and clubs, and while it has appeared this week (albeit unnamed as such) in the New York Times, steampunk has not become highly visible as a common street fashion trend. Or, if it has become a fashion trend, it hasn't yet entirely metamorphosed into a functional, sustainable style. Fashion lasts a season (if that); style is internal, eternal, and transcends time. Sound familiar?

In yesterday's post, Jake quoted the author of the NY Times article, David Colman, saying “There are all kinds of societies that are about dressing up in period costume and then going back to your oversize jeans the next day,” he said. “This is about style as a way of being.” [emphasis Jake's] And this very style is precisely what I intend to talk about in my posts here. I want to talk about a wider vintage influence on modern style, not just bastardized Victoriana. I want to avoid things already labeled with the dreaded s-word or coated in functionless gears. I want to talk about DIY and bespoke, as well as off-the-rack. I want to talk about attainable and affordable garments that can be acquired for a plethora of body types and sizes and genders, not just what's chic for a femme in size 0 with the funds to buy couture. I want to talk about clothing that can be worn to work, not just to parties or LARPs. I want to talk about color, not just brown and cream. And, I want to talk about the notion of accessorizing both yourself and your surroundings in a way that makes you feel like you're living the dream.

Oh, and just to spite Mister Colman, I want to make certain he understands, very clearly, that we are not hipsters.

Who am I to open this discussion? My name is Libby Bulloff, and I'm no fashionista. I'm a photographer in Seattle. I take brightly-colored portraits of wonderful people from a variety of subcultures. I also contribute to Steampunk Magazine, and I have my own project blog called Exoskeleton Cabaret.

Please let me know in the comments if there's a specific subject you'd like to see covered in future posts, or say hello! Thanks to Jake for adding me to the Steampunk Workshop family.

[Photo by Libby Bulloff of Finn von Claret and David S Dowling in Gasworks Park, Seattle.]

New York Times Fashion & Style - Steampunk Influences?

Are your ears burning? They should be because the New York Times is talking about you.  David Colman's This just in from the 1890's is a laundry list of Steampunk influence in fashion and style - yet the 's' word is nowhere to be seen!

Not long ago, big brass-buttoned military coats looked a bit extreme. So did high-button, high-lapel vests and slim tweed trousers. And so did guys who tucked said trousers into high, old-fashioned hunting boots. Now these clothes (along with those ever-present beards and mustaches) look like downtown defaults...

I've been seeing more and more examples of creative folks clearly drawing inspiration from Steampunk but shying away from the 's' word.  That's sure to upset some people but I truly have no problem with it.  I draw inspiration from myriads of things and people around me and it would be impossible to site every single thing that touched or influenced me.

As with home design, where curio cases, taxidermy and other stylish clutter of the Victorian era have been taken up by young hipsters, many of today’s popular men’s styles have their roots in the late 19th century.

[Read More for the rest . . .]

Spine Earrings from Improbablecog

While I was out in Seattle I got to know a fellow named Noah Beasley. I've known Noah online for a while and ran into him oh so briefly at Maker Faire, but the moment I stepped into his place I knew that we would hit it off because there was an 80% finished RepRap machine sitting on his work table!

Noah is an industrial designer who has begun to turn his skills to the production of jewelery and art.  One of the really neat things that Noah is pursuing is the use of 3D metal printing for the creation of fine jewelery and he's beginning to offer some of these pieces for sale now on Etsy:

Though these earrings may resemble an xenomorphic sea creature, we can neither confirm nor deny that they were modeled after any organism living, dead, or bearing any blood relation to our board of directors.

This item is made of 3D printed, bronze infused stainless steel, and so has been lovingly crafted by robots. 

[More are now available and I've updated the link above. - Jake]

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