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BAMF
01-28-2010, 06:23 AM
I am absolutely fascinated by this subculture/genre. But being fairly new it has yet to solidify into something distinct.
Say for example Cyberpunk is easy to describe and recognize as it conforms to a certain set of rules and trademarks. This is because there are so many famous examples of it in fiction. People will immediately think of Blade Runner or the Matrix.
But we are essentially living in that ultra-sleek future now anyway. So where do we go but the past?
To give examples of Steampunk to someone who had absolutely no clue of what it is, one could reference the new Sherlock Holmes(arguabley), Wild, Wild West, Atlantis: The Lost Empire or League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
These stories take the pulp fiction of old and reinvent it with modern concepts.
But Steampunk is a word too easily tossed around without really knowing what it means.
At its most fundamental level it is the 19th century (specifically the late Victorian to early Edwardian periods) with more advanced technology implementing the resources available at the time.
So no plastics, silicones or whatever other modern materials we have. Instead there is a lot of brass, wood, external pieces, Art Nuevo, exquisite attention to detail and generally form over function.
Usually the explanation for this is that the industrial / technological revolutions, the harnessing of electricity or even social movements have occurred significantly earlier than they do in our own timeline.
But interpretations of this idea vary widely from person to person. Or cosplayer to cosplayer, as it would be. You may even disagree with my above description of Steampunk.
But the most common debate I have come across in my research of Steampunk is;
How much modern influence vs how much historical accuracy?
To make something Steampunk, most costumers or artists will add:
Brass
Cogs, gears, external working pieces
Pressure gauges
Steam or primitive electrical powered technology
Goggles
Pocket watches
Striped clothing
Now one could take a completely accurate costume from the 19th century and a jetpack, a ray gun and some jewellery made of mechanical pieces.
Or you could have a fairly modern ensemble with just the slightest influences of the 19th century. Corset, top hat, spats, ect.
You could go either way, but you can’t please everyone when it comes to this issue.
There is also the controversy over “steampunking” existing characters.
Like the Steampunk Star Wars characters that have been circulating the Internet. Personally I love them, I think this sort of thing helps the Steampunk genre get more fans as well as aiding the development of this style.
To add the the confusion there are other similar subgenres such as Dieselpunk and Atompunk.
What are these?
Well like Steampunk, these genres take their name from the most popular energy source of the time.
Dieselpunk takes place around WWII, so think early superheroes, like the Rocketeer.
Atompunk, takes place in the 1950’s, think Bioshock.
And then there is all the other examples of retro-futurism, like Brazil or Treasure Planet that don’t fall under any other genre.
In conclusion I would like to see Steampunk become a more distinct and more popular subgenre. I want to see more examples of it in movies and maybe even see it enter the fashion industry. There are already more examples of it in comics, with stories such as Transformers: Heart of Steel and High Noon.
I would also like to hear your comments and speculations on Steampunk.

AkatsukiSky
01-28-2010, 09:35 AM
Well, I heard that term everywhere but never get to know what Steampunk was exactly. Your explanation was really instructive, thank you very much. I must say the movies examples helped a lot. Since I don't know more though, I can't debate much more. But thanks for taking the time to write this :)

Pocketfightr
01-28-2010, 10:29 AM
I do enjoy Steampunk. The creativity and freedom it has leaves cosplay choices unlimited. Unfortunately, there's not many Steampunks here in NE, so time to wear an outfit is pretty limited and I always end up putting that on the backburner while I work on other cosplay.

The Steamfashion community on livejournal is one of my few reasons to even check my livejournal anymore.

Mangochutney
01-28-2010, 01:56 PM
I want to see more examples of it in movies and maybe even see it enter the fashion industry.

Permit me to direct your wandering eye toward a recent Christian Dior show (http://community.livejournal.com/steamfashion/2351309.html#cutid1). (thank you, steamfashion on LJ.)

You might also enjoy these recent and still-coming movies which all show a steampunk flair:

Sherlock Holmes
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Alice In Wonderland

Steampunk is still a growing phenomenon and won't be going away any time soon. My own thought is that its focus on elegance, artisanship, and intellectual curiosity are a natural and much-needed reaction to the push-a-button pre-fab plastic culture that we apes find ourselves so bewilderingly adrift in. The world of Victoriana and steampunk is still an industrial, artificial world, but I think it shows a powerful nostalgia for the last time that industry felt like it had the touch of a human hand.

penny_dreadful
01-28-2010, 02:29 PM
Steampunk is still a growing phenomenon and won't be going away any time soon. My own thought is that its focus on elegance, artisanship, and intellectual curiosity are a natural and much-needed reaction to the push-a-button pre-fab plastic culture that we apes find ourselves so bewilderingly adrift in. The world of Victoriana and steampunk is still an industrial, artificial world, but I think it shows a powerful nostalgia for the last time that industry felt like it had the touch of a human hand.

Hallelujah!

I'm endlessly impressed by the mods people make to their technological devices; it's not just that they look so beautiful, but I love the imagination and effort people put into them. Technology moves so fast and sometimes it all seems so sterile; the steampunk aesthetic is a reminder of the sort of craftsmanship that so often seems to have vanished.

Obviously there are no visuals involved here, but if you like reading I'm always recommending an anthology of short stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer simply called Steampunk. I'm particularly fond of Ian MacLeod's "The Giving Mouth," which is actual feudal steampunk. I'm still waiting to see a steampunked suit of medieval armor. I can't tell you how happy that would make me.

Braithcakes
01-28-2010, 04:00 PM
Neo-victorian science fiction.


http://brassgoggles.co.uk/ is a great place for learning more about steampunk. :]



if you want to read a steampunk novel, a brave new world is a GREAT one.


also, anything going into the 1920's and beyond, where they used gasoline as fuel and diesel as fuel, is diesel punk.

usually...brassy things, because brass was an affordable and popular metal in those times, airships, edwardian and victorian styled clothing, nothing over exxaggerated either, and alot of steampunks get angry if people wear goggles for no reason. obv. if you're dressing as an engineer or a pilot/adventurer, goggles would be helpful.

dukes and ladies does not has goggles :3

edit: also, there is a notable difference between steampunk cosplayers and living steampunks, cosplayers usually are overexxagerated, and more...victorian influence, whereas living steampunks tend to stick to the structured period aesthetic :3

also, to clarify. atompunk is a subgenre that emerges in usually a post-apocolyptic world which can be steam, diesel, or bio/cyberpunk easily :'D

supergeekgirl
01-28-2010, 04:27 PM
Do you mean "Brave New World"? I looked up "A Brave New World" and couldn't find it.

Brave New World is not steampunk in the least. It has nothing steam-powered. There are no trappings of the Victorian. The only thing that might be "punk" is that the main characters "stick it to the man" by not taking soma and thus realizing that the government sucks. "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley takes place in a futuristic world (the 26th century) where everyone is created assembly-line style to fit into a particular caste. There are many more typical science fiction elements in the novel than steampunk elements. There is no sense of exploration or anything, despite the title. They do travel to one place out in the desert, but it's not in an airship, hot air balloon, or steam engine.

Sorry, but I don't see any steampunk inspiration coming from that book and definitely not from the movie they made of it a few years ago.

There are definitely some great steampunk elements in Neverwhere, a novel by Neil Gaiman. I wouldn't consider it steampunk, but there is an underground world that resembles Victorian London with a lot of fantastical elements and neat inventions.

Also, consider the books for Mage: The Ascension, especially the Sons of Ether tradition books, for steampunk inspiration for your costumes. The Sons of Ether are pretty much the continuation of the original creators of "steampunk" from the Victorian period (this fad isn't new... It's just a new name given to an aesthetic that was popular in the Victorian period... look up the 1898 and 1904 World's Fairs to see what I mean). They travel across dimensions using very cool gadgets often made more for style than utility.

Braithcakes
01-28-2010, 07:00 PM
Do you mean "Brave New World"? I looked up "A Brave New World" and couldn't find it.

Brave New World is not steampunk in the least. It has nothing steam-powered. There are no trappings of the Victorian. The only thing that might be "punk" is that the main characters "stick it to the man" by not taking soma and thus realizing that the government sucks. "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley takes place in a futuristic world (the 26th century) where everyone is created assembly-line style to fit into a particular caste. There are many more typical science fiction elements in the novel than steampunk elements. There is no sense of exploration or anything, despite the title. They do travel to one place out in the desert, but it's not in an airship, hot air balloon, or steam engine.

Sorry, but I don't see any steampunk inspiration coming from that book and definitely not from the movie they made of it a few years ago.

There are definitely some great steampunk elements in Neverwhere, a novel by Neil Gaiman. I wouldn't consider it steampunk, but there is an underground world that resembles Victorian London with a lot of fantastical elements and neat inventions.

Also, consider the books for Mage: The Ascension, especially the Sons of Ether tradition books, for steampunk inspiration for your costumes. The Sons of Ether are pretty much the continuation of the original creators of "steampunk" from the Victorian period (this fad isn't new... It's just a new name given to an aesthetic that was popular in the Victorian period... look up the 1898 and 1904 World's Fairs to see what I mean). They travel across dimensions using very cool gadgets often made more for style than utility.

Steampunk meaning the time period...essentially, it's early aged sciencefiction, steampunk doesn't need to have steam technology nor does it need to have any sort of steamy things. a steampunk will tell you that, because steampunk can't REALLY be defined, given that it can be ranging from anything from actual period victorian styling, to futuristic flying ships and grand Aether technologies.

alpha_helix
01-28-2010, 07:40 PM
I don't think you can make the argument that "Brave New World" is steampunk. You can get into the "you can't define it" for any genre, but there's a point where you draw the line. No matter how one defines steampunk, almost always, the common element is retrofuturism. "Brave New World" is not retrofuturist, it's just futurist. I also don't think you can make the argument that a science fiction book is steampunk because it's from the 1930s. Steampunk can certainly include anything up to WWII (though most is pre WWI), but saying that it's steampunk because it's from the same era is like saying that Harry Potter is postmodern.

I personally define steampunk as pre-WWII, post-Enlightenment retrofuturism, which can take form in literature, film, fashion, costumes, art, crafts, etc. I personally don't think that period science fiction counts because it's outside of the steampunk movement. Yes, they share a lot in common. Yes, you can make modern adaptations and derivative works that are steampunk, Yes, they led the way for steampunk as we know it, but they're really a whole other entity.

moogles1989
01-28-2010, 07:59 PM
ummmm i always thought kuroshitsuji was kind of steam punk ish......i mean in the manga the anime is a different story but the manga has a lot of technological advances such as kidnapper vans and cellphones as well as television and theres a bit in one chapter about finny worrying that if he screws up ciel wont let him watch his mecha anime with him, and in another chapter ciel distracts prince sohma from bothering him with television..... so i would say based on the the official time period and the fact that they have things that did not appear untill the mid and late 20th century kuroshit suji can fall into a steam punk category

FevrierMai
01-28-2010, 09:13 PM
I really love the description you used. I've always had the hardest time explaining Steampounk to my family because it's so abstract (though I don't see it that way in my head...). In future if someone asks me about Steampunk I will direct them here.

supergeekgirl
01-28-2010, 10:05 PM
I don't think you can make the argument that "Brave New World" is steampunk. You can get into the "you can't define it" for any genre, but there's a point where you draw the line. No matter how one defines steampunk, almost always, the common element is retrofuturism. "Brave New World" is not retrofuturist, it's just futurist. I also don't think you can make the argument that a science fiction book is steampunk because it's from the 1930s. Steampunk can certainly include anything up to WWII (though most is pre WWI), but saying that it's steampunk because it's from the same era is like saying that Harry Potter is postmodern.

I personally define steampunk as pre-WWII, post-Enlightenment retrofuturism, which can take form in literature, film, fashion, costumes, art, crafts, etc. I personally don't think that period science fiction counts because it's outside of the steampunk movement. Yes, they share a lot in common. Yes, you can make modern adaptations and derivative works that are steampunk, Yes, they led the way for steampunk as we know it, but they're really a whole other entity.

I agree. Thank you for agreeing with me here. It drives me crazy that some people want to classify every novel written pre-WWII as steampunk if it has any futurism in it.

Brave New World has NONE of the trappings of steampunk. If someone who believes himself to be a "steampunk" were to cite it as an example, that doesn't make it any more a part of the movement. People who cite it as steampunk have probably not read it. It is absolutely science fiction, and there is really no retro feel at all despite the fact that it was written in the 1930s. It could have been written today and would be very much the same book. It shares nothing that I can see in common with steampunk as a style of clothing or a setting for modern books. The characters live in a world of cloning, suppression of emotions through drugs, Big Brother-type government surveillance, helicopters, rocket travel (akin to the Concorde but even faster), sex as a chief form of recreation, televisions in hotel rooms, and more.

Most importantly for this site, as a costuming source, the book is crap. There are hardly descriptions of the characters, and their clothing is as normal as normal can be.

moogles1989
01-29-2010, 12:04 AM
@supergeekgirl what about The Time Machine? i always thought that could be in the steampunk category.......but then again i alway view novels and plays that i read through a costume design aspect. when my theatre did sherlock holmes the final adventure we almost made it so the clothign was steampunk but we didnt because by that point all the stitchers had returned to thier universities and we didnt have enough man power to build the entire show.....i got off topic what im saying is that the time machine could possibly be in the steampunk genre if done as a play or a movie and teh costume designer makes it so.....

penny_dreadful
01-29-2010, 10:52 AM
H.G. Wells (The Time Machine) and Jules Verne (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) are both Victorian-era writers often referred to as the fathers of science fiction. They wrote about futuristic technology within the mien of 19th-century culture, and I would definitely consider them about as authentic as steampunk literature can get.

They did make a Time Machine film (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0268695/) in 2002, but it's awful. I wouldn't recommend that as a good place to get your steampunk influence from.

supergeekgirl
01-29-2010, 12:51 PM
And many people cite them as being the ones who inspired today's movement, which is true. I think a lot of the thinkers of the time (especially Tesla with his talk of creating a death ray and Edison with the rotating movie studio) inspired steampunk. My husband loves Jules Verne. He says that there's less steam and gadgetry than people think because they always remember the movies based on his work (Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Master of the World), but he likes them for their visions of future vehicles and the VERY punk attitudes of the main characters. Even though the Nautilus in the book is electrically-powered, Captain Nemo has the attitude of our modern steampunk characters. He is a pacifist traveling in a submarine, downing warships and seeking adventure around the world.

H.G. Wells and Jules Verne were not really contemporaries, though. Most of Wells' novels were about 20-30 years after Verne's. One neat thing about 20,000 Leagues under the Sea is that Verne actually describes what Captain Nemo wears. Of course, it's not horribly interesting and probably wouldn't make PETA too happy as it's seal skin, but at least the description is there. :)

On another thought about steampunk... my husband and I have gotten annoyed recently with all of the drinking gadgets people are creating. It's cool that people are making stuff inspired by steampunk, but about 90% of the gadgetry we're seeing at conventions is created for the sole purpose of drinking alcohol. Also, most of the steampunk skits we've been seeing are about serving alcohol from the various gadgets people are wearing. Is it just because science fiction fandom likes to drink? Or is it something I missed beyond that?

moogles1989
01-29-2010, 03:04 PM
alcohol? really?? lol ive never noticed it but then again i hardly see people in steampunk attire, maybe a handfull of times ive seen a person all dressed up with cool gadgetry but other than complimenting them and asking what it is that they have i haent noticed a lot of alcohol......hmmmm i probably just havent been paying much attention....

Vexation
01-29-2010, 05:15 PM
I've had some negative experienced in the past with some Steampunk people. I lean towards cyberpunk (which isn't always as you described, such as matrix and bladerunner. I do the more fantasy oriented type of Cyber, along the lines of the japanese DJ SiSeN. It seems there still exists animosity between the two, for one reason or another--I got a lot of rude comments from steampunks and a lot of glares as well. (And a lewd comment of two from the males in the crowd, as my skirt was very short, my heels were very high, and my corset was very tight. There was no need to be called a a Cybernetic Whore.)

It seems to be a very uptight group, in my opinion. I do NeoVictorian which isn't all that far from Steampunk, and to be analyzed as "one of those cyber kids" when I'm closer to them than they might think, grows irksome.

Kelley
01-29-2010, 08:46 PM
I feel that steampunk is already really popular - there's a "Steampunk" section at HOT TOPIC.



Would I mind seeing more creative high-quality examples of it ? No.

Do I think Steampunk NEEDS more exposure ? No.


I think some Steampunk stuff is really cool - but I think it's at the point where it's getting very overdone, to be honest.

Kell-chan
01-29-2010, 09:30 PM
Maybe not exposure, exactly - but more definition. Being new to cosplay in general, I'm a little bewildered by genres and sub-genres of styles (I read the EGL "rules" and felt my head spin). So being interested in Steampunk and really not seeing much at the cons I've attended, I like someone taking the time to define it for me.

Braithcakes
01-29-2010, 11:25 PM
I don't think you can make the argument that "Brave New World" is steampunk. You can get into the "you can't define it" for any genre, but there's a point where you draw the line. No matter how one defines steampunk, almost always, the common element is retrofuturism. "Brave New World" is not retrofuturist, it's just futurist. I also don't think you can make the argument that a science fiction book is steampunk because it's from the 1930s. Steampunk can certainly include anything up to WWII (though most is pre WWI), but saying that it's steampunk because it's from the same era is like saying that Harry Potter is postmodern.

I personally define steampunk as pre-WWII, post-Enlightenment retrofuturism, which can take form in literature, film, fashion, costumes, art, crafts, etc. I personally don't think that period science fiction counts because it's outside of the steampunk movement. Yes, they share a lot in common. Yes, you can make modern adaptations and derivative works that are steampunk, Yes, they led the way for steampunk as we know it, but they're really a whole other entity.

yeah I just re-read the book and I guess I had it confused with another o__o

and as a side note, I said I KNEW living steampunks, not that I was one. I live in modern standards, kthx.

BAMF
01-29-2010, 11:32 PM
Maybe in other countries it's better recognised. But if I were to say 'steampunk' to an Australian they wouldn't have a clue.
Lolita on the other hand is better known and they seem to just put the two together.

Definition I think is more the key here.
Steampunk is a very loose concept at this point. You know it when you see it, but defining it is a challenge.To say what is and isn't steampunk or neo-victorian is an arguable point.
And then you have the historical purists who want everything to be just so accurate. It kills the imagination.

And imagination is what's needed to evolve Steampunk.

Kelley
01-30-2010, 12:20 AM
I strongly disagree that historical purity kills the imagination.

Historical purity can be an interesting intellectual challenge both in creation and execution.


It is no less "creative" than anything else. One must use the imagination and spatial reasoning to unwrap and unfold garments from statues, or museum pieces one will never touch and examine.

One must use creativity to come up with the closest approximation to dying techniques. The same goes for sewing techniques. Also, creativity goes into analysing ancient art from times when no textiles survive.


And, above all, there is a great deal of creativity in making an interesting character who is ALSO historically accurate. To not simply add any fluff and fantasy that you want to. It is possible - but it takes a great deal of knowledge and learning and creativity and imagination - imagination in the sense of trying to disconnect from your modern views and ideas and truly get into the mindset of the era you're trying to re-create.



I have created Steampunk characters - however, now I am working on a historical production - and I don't think it's fair to knock people who do that in order to make Steampunk seem more interesting. Both are rewarding and can be fun.

For me, recreating Oscar Wilde's lecturing outfit has been a treasure hunt - trying to find reference materials, understanding what is seen in the reference materials, and finding ways of replicating.

The "arguments" I've had with other historians attest to the fact that there is creativity involved in solving the problems to which answers cannot be immediately seen.

There is obviously much more freedom and creativity involved in creating your own, unique, "historically accurate" character. You get to pick and choose and work with SO MANY ideas, techniques, and concepts.




Sure, Steampunk can be interesting and creative, too ! However, BOTH types of creating fall into the exact same traps - clichés that are boring. Too many people copying the exact same ideas instead of thinking for themselves. BOTH require a great knowledge of all involved subjects in order to be truly successful.

BAMF
01-30-2010, 01:16 AM
Ooh, I'd like to see your costumes.

My steampunk character is Amelia Harker. She is an adventurer in the Australian outback in 1872. Except in this world the pleistocene mega-fauna never became extinct.
So accuracy, not so much!
There are goggles in the costume, a cliche I know. But the character needs them for protection from the desert climate. They also switch to night vision.

I need to get photos of it. Haven't quite finished the skirt yet.

Oh and she also has a partner, Flint Dawson. A former Union soldier from Indiana.
I wish I had someone to cosplay as him.

Kelley
01-30-2010, 03:06 AM
Sadly, my Steampunk costume didn't get 100% finished - I never got a chance to do the heavy leatherwork I needed to. It's something I had never done before, and I don't want to try it until I have someone there to work with me - if it had just been sewing, that would have been one thing, but I needed to mould the leather - which I'm too afraid of messing up if I try all by myself.

The original idea, and a "spin-off" one were definitely not Steampunk in the traditional sense. Both were 1600s ideas.

I also designed a Steampunk Hoplite once, but I don't have the physique to pull that off without looking particularly scrawny.

Really more inspired by Steampunk aesthetics / technology than actually steampunk. I'm sad the first one didn't get finished - I had even gone and bought gigantic platform boots for it. XD

BAMF
01-30-2010, 04:03 AM
I like working with leather. In some ways it's easier than any other material, but in other ways it's alot harder.
Mostly because of the cost.

Moulding isn't so bad. If you make a mistake, most of the time you can do it again.

StarsCASSiOPEiA
01-30-2010, 07:33 AM
Excellent description of Steampunk right there! ^^ I think it's an interesting genre that takes elements from sci-fi and the future while also taking elements of past styles. It's cool in that way that a person can almost "mix and match" to achieve the look they want. :)

Braithcakes
01-30-2010, 11:48 AM
same here kelley, my steampunk character is a military monster hunter.

He's a war warlock, I have almost everything done except my leatherworking and my runes :\

that being said, steampunk has very loose boundaries as to how "abnormal" it can go :\

for example, a steampunk scholar could be steampunk whereas so could a sky pirate or a military personel using a nicola tesla inspired lightning gun :o

<3 that's why...I like it so much

Cadmium Polyphony
01-31-2010, 03:16 AM
Steampunk as a fashion subculture is sh*t. There, I said it.

The literary version however....is also becoming sh*t. At least, it started out cool enough, but Gibson and Sterling havent touched the stuff since The Difference Engine, so....

I much prefer 'neo-Victorian' simply for semantics. I dont like the whole 'punk' word, in the other name, personally.

And most of the fans seem to be boorish prats that put uninspired goggles on equally uninspired hats, far too often.

Cadmium Polyphony
01-31-2010, 03:21 AM
Atompunk, takes place in the 1950’s, think Bioshock.

Isnt Bioshock more biopunk, what with a heavy emphasis on biological body mods that enhance human abilities?

BAMF
01-31-2010, 05:13 AM
It falls under both categories. Atompunk on a visual level and biopunk on a story level. But I thought it was best to keep things simple.

Cadmium Polyphony
01-31-2010, 05:17 AM
When I think of atomic/atompunk, I think Fallout.

supergeekgirl
01-31-2010, 04:12 PM
I used to be very into Neo-Victorian about seven or eight years ago and was planning a lot of neat costumes around this obsession with Victorian clothing and science fiction. I played as an Etherite in Mage and loved comics, books, and movies with the "brass goggles"-type feel (back then, since I wasn't sure what to call it, I called it "brass, goggles, and gears"). People who distinguish between "steampunk" and "Weird West" kind of piss me off because back before there was a well-known name for it (at the time, the term "steampunk" was not commonly used), no one distinguished a difference in the setting just because it was in the Wild West.

Then I started hearing "steampunk" thrown around. It started small. Five years ago, I saw a pair at Anime Central in beautiful, windswept steampunk-styled costumes. By that time, I had heard the term and remarked that they were "beautiful steampunk outfits". They were surprised as all heck that I knew the term. I'd learned it via webcomics. They thought it was something made up on their EGA/EGL boards. This story should give you an idea of how quickly this costuming fad has become mainstream.

I figure that there is a certain life-arc to fashion/music/lifestyle fads. They ALWAYS start in a small subculture, often with a book or comic that is only read by that subculture. Some things stay subcultural forever, and others spread to related subcultures (steampunk spread to the Goth subculture, especially Victorian Goths, many of whom had no name for it but still liked it; also, those into EGA/EGL seem to have liked it; of course, some gamers, especially those who played World of Darkness games, were among the first to start with the "steampunked" goggles).
Then, if those subcultures like it, it spreads to a larger subcultural group, such as "fandom" in general (on the way, it was often filtered through cosplayers and costumers so that there were a lot of visual examples rather than just books and movies), spreading to more and more fandom events. As this happens, groups try to reclaim the fad, saying that they knew about it FIRST. WoD gamers have said this. EGA costumers have said this. Goths have said this. None of them is entirely right, but all of them want to make rules regarding what constitutes steampunk.
Then it gets out of anyone's control. It spreads from the large subculture to people who like to say that they know about something no one else does (i.e. "hipsters" and "scene", as some people define these very changeable but fashion-forward people). Now it's a fad. The arguments over who has known about the fad longest continue, and those who came "late" are considered not as good as those who were there at the "beginning" (often considered the moment *just before* everyone else knew about it, which is often long after the works that inspired the fad originally were released). Definitions start popping up all over, and then SOMEONE writes a history. This is easier to do nowadays with Wikipedia. Someone goes out and researches the earliest mentions of the fad (which may or may not be the very FIRST) and cites the stages the fad went through to get where it is.
Then you see stuff at Hot Topic. The kids who shop there start buying it because they want to be cool before anyone else is. Their hip parents start buying it for them (or sometimes themselves). Only grandma and a few people who don't care about pop culture don't know about it. The fad starts getting airtime on TV. If it's a fashion (like steampunk), the fashion designers cite it as inspiration. There's a character on the most popular show on TV who likes whatever the fad is but is considered "avant garde" and weird in the context of the show. Movies are made using the trappings of the fad. Someone wears fashion inspired by it to an awards show.
At this point, the subcultures that took to it long ago say it's been commercialized. People who wear the fashions of the fad to subcultural events are ridiculed, whether to their faces or behind their backs. The subcultures attempt to narrow the definition, often tossing out the things that their subculture originally liked about the fad, saying that those things have become "cliche" (steampunk without goggles?!). New terms are created to separate the fad into types, often so that people can talk about it without using the now-cliche common name. The hipsters who took to the fad as it outgrew the subcultures start a backlash. They think it "sold out", "lost its integrity", or got too commercialized. They take all of their stuff related to the fad to a thrift store. Pop culture followers at large follow suit, especially after a celebrity they like says it's too commercialized. If the fad was big enough or if there was a controversy related to it, the backlash can become a little scary. Disco records were burned publicly once upon a time.
At the end of the backlash, hardly anyone hears much about that fad for a little while. Then those who really liked it a lot, whether they were there "from the beginning" or came in "late", start to enjoy it publicly again. You see a steady stream of people wearing things from the fad. Sometimes, it is simply adopted as a part of the subculture, like Star Trek in fandom. People are comfortable using the old, cliched term for the fad again since it's no longer a fad.
Then, ten or so years later, someone famous pulls out his or her old outfit/album/movie/etc. from the days of the fad and puts it out in public. Suddenly everyone is a fan again. While this new growth of the fad is never as big and crazy as the original fad, it gives "original fans" a chance to say that people are just into it because of the "recent craze". And so it goes...

Cosplay_Rose
02-01-2010, 03:45 AM
This thread is actually quite helpful =] Especially there references to games and movies. I think I gained an interest in stampunk fashion before I knew the name, and I'm realizing that more now that it's being defined. I've always wanted to try my hand at a steampunk outfit, but it's still just a little out of my grasp right now...

I feel that steampunk is already really popular - there's a "Steampunk" section at HOT TOPIC.

The only steampunk-esque things I've seen at Hot Topic are the Lady Gaga things o.o Which interest me nonetheless, but I can't bring myself to buy them >_< It just doesn't seem right somehow.

vampirate
02-01-2010, 06:04 PM
Actually pocket watches and stripes are very historically accurate. So those two elements would make something more Victorian than steampunk technically.

Personally I think it should have a very firm Victorian influence. Like right now I'm working on a steampunk commission. And I'm just working on the garments. So I started with Victorian costume patterns and a modern vest pattern. I'll be modifying things a bit to get them to work for what my customer wants, but since it's steampunk I don't have to be a super stickler for historical accuracy. To me that also means that one can be braver with prints and patterns of fabric since it's not a super historically accurate costume. But I sure am still basing everything off of Victorian garments and trying to maintain a Victorian-esque look. And I think it should make use of appropriate materials. So I'm working mostly with wool blends(this is for a gentleman's outfit btw) whereas with many other costumes I probably wouldn't be so worried about the fiber content of my fabric versus just how it looks.

Cadmium Polyphony
02-01-2010, 09:12 PM
I keep seeing the phrase 'historical accuracy' thrown about when referring to this subculture, but the staple of it is a combination of historical throwbacks, and era-defying technology.

So the term 'historical accuracy' in regards to the genre is a bit of a double-edged, contradictory sentiment, I think.

Troppy
02-01-2010, 11:36 PM
I am neither a history expert nor a Steampunk costumer. This makes me unqualified to really speak here, but I think I can at least say something from the perspective of the intrigued outsider:

I find Steampunk fascinating when each alternative addition to the fashion has a function. If the cosplayer can explain to me what that tube is for, what those gears are connected to, why there's a clock placed there, where in the device pressure is stored, etc., I am rendered impressed.

What is NOT Steampunk to me is fashion THEMED around common Steampunk motifs. Unfortunately, this kind of fashion is appearing a LOT. Gears used as decoration, pictures of clocks on fabric, random copper baubles, etc. do not fit the mold for me. That would be like us wearing images of computers on our dresses, or gluing cell phone keypads to our chests for flair.

Steampunk done well, from the eyes of this humble outsider, is the idea that technology advanced down a different, steam-powered path. Thus, people would still dress as they would in the Victorian (or other chosen) era, and the changes made have a useful relevance to the technological choices of that universe.

Am I totally off here? Am I wrong to be annoyed?

alpha_helix
02-02-2010, 12:20 AM
Troppy, I feel pretty much the same way. Maybe this is because I know a good deal about 19th and early 20th c. clothing, but I feel like steampunk costumes that look too modern in their clothing, props, and accessories really ruin the look and kill the whole suspension of disbelief for me. I love well researched, well designed steampunk, but the button down shirt + vest+ goggles + pocket watch + NERF gun look is getting really old, and (unless you've done your historical research and are tailoring it the way they did back then) it has no basis in anything historical.

Obviously, historical accuracy in steampunk is much more forgiving than historical accuracy in period correct costuming. For example in steampunk, it's perfectly acceptable for a respectable lady to wear trousers or a calf length skirt, and you can mix and match fashions from different decades. Of course, the fun gadgets are another issue entirely and should only be limited by the creator's imagination.

While I'm at, one thing that does bother me is steampunk costumes that show excessive amounts of skin. One thing I've seen a lot of is these really short (like mid thigh length) drapey bustley skirts worn with fishnets (or sometimes no stocking at all), and I think that's pushing it. It offends my Victorian sensibilities.

vampirate
02-02-2010, 08:14 AM
What is NOT Steampunk to me is fashion THEMED around common Steampunk motifs. Unfortunately, this kind of fashion is appearing a LOT. Gears used as decoration, pictures of clocks on fabric, random copper baubles, etc. do not fit the mold for me. That would be like us wearing images of computers on our dresses, or gluing cell phone keypads to our chests for flair.
...
Am I totally off here? Am I wrong to be annoyed?

You are not the only one! I think that sort of thing is a huge reason why I haven't really been able to get into steampunk myself. When I was first working out ideas with my customer I told him that gears and such should have a function and not just be decorative. Otherwise my personal issue is that steampunk as a whole is pretty overdone these days(and then like we've touched on, a lot of it is poorly designed/thought out). It seems like every other convention has been going with a steampunk theme recently.

lyraparry11
02-02-2010, 05:07 PM
I totally agree with the whole thing about the gears and whatnot having a "function". I'm working on a character (captain hester **no last name yet**). basically she's an 18 year old girl who gets roped into being in charge of an airship. she's a co captain on the ship, and she's an inventor. My out is a short skirt, knee high socks, engineers boots, and a military jacket. she has a tool bag, and a knife strapped to her leg. I have a whole backstory written out for her, and I'm hoping to write that into a novel (someday...). certain cliches in steampunk are really cool if you can add a little bit of your own ideas, but some just...are overdone. basically a little originality goes a long way.

Kesra
02-03-2010, 03:44 AM
Steam Punk was defined to me as being "A speculative branch of science fiction that asks the question: What if the information age had hit in the victorian era?" So that's the definition I stick to *shrug* I do believe that victorian elements are important as well as an idea of function to each of the elements of the costume/outfit.

Final Fantasy 9 has a lot of steam punk elements to it actually. In fact, throughout the course of the game, Cid discovers how to make a steam engine.

Lilith W
02-03-2010, 10:16 PM
I find steampunk really interesting and want to make one but looking around I see the same jobs and roles over and over. Then I came up with an idea. What about a book peddler? Good idea or bad? Any ideas?

costumemercenar
02-04-2010, 01:25 PM
What about a book peddler? Good idea or bad? Any ideas?

Been around since the late middle ages, when there were fewer bookshops and more cold-calling wandering booksellers who'd tour the countryside, sit in taverns and try to sell as many books as possible before moving on, leaving a flutter of printed adverts in their wake.

Troppy, I feel pretty much the same way. Maybe this is because I know a good deal about 19th and early 20th c. clothing, but I feel like steampunk costumes that look too modern in their clothing, props, and accessories really ruin the look and kill the whole suspension of disbelief for me. I love well researched, well designed steampunk, but the button down shirt + vest+ goggles + pocket watch + NERF gun look is getting really old, and (unless you've done your historical research and are tailoring it the way they did back then) it has no basis in anything historical.

Steampunk means many, many things. The sheer quantity of meaning laden onto that word is really rather unhelpful sometimes.

It means both "specifically Victorian-inspired technological fantasy" as well as "any technological fantasy in which clockwork and steam-powered machinery plays a large part based on any pre-modern period".

It also includes everything the subculture (like goth) produces, is inspired by or ruminates on. (as well as the subculture itself).

I'm down with showing skin. The only thing that bothers me is when someone decides upon character who roams the Egypt and bares her arms - it's not even the decency, it's the fact that sleeves protect one from being savaged by insects - a costume (well, all costumes) require a certain semblance of functionality (that you can read the purpose and character from the garments).... I think I'm rambling.

Cogs can be pretty. And I'm sure there was a wave of wearing disused computer parts as jewellery within the modern era, so I'm not sure it's that out of the ordinary.

kuko-chan
02-05-2010, 09:51 PM
For the record, I've seen RAM earrings. http://www.gadgetvenue.com/recycled-computer-ram-earrings-07222933/
I totally think cogs can be purely decorative. Along with old Victorian keys and locks. I mean, why not?

See, this is a fashion I would have loved to explore if it weren't for the "purists" trying to determine exact definitions of what's considered "steampunk" and what's not. That's the reason I abandoned my pursuit into the Gothic Lolita community. I'm kind of tired of doing a heavy amount of research into a fashion just so I can say I have the right to wear it. Why can't someone just wear whatever they want without the "purists" scoffing at them and whispering "That's a weak attempt at steampunk. Look at those cliched goggles. That's so last century." I'm more of a fashion dabbler anyway. I like sampling styles from a wide variety of genres and seeing what I get from it.

Kaoshima
08-01-2010, 11:20 PM
For the record, I've seen RAM earrings. http://www.gadgetvenue.com/recycled-computer-ram-earrings-07222933/
I totally think cogs can be purely decorative. Along with old Victorian keys and locks. I mean, why not?

See, this is a fashion I would have loved to explore if it weren't for the "purists" trying to determine exact definitions of what's considered "steampunk" and what's not. That's the reason I abandoned my pursuit into the Gothic Lolita community. I'm kind of tired of doing a heavy amount of research into a fashion just so I can say I have the right to wear it. Why can't someone just wear whatever they want without the "purists" scoffing at them and whispering "That's a weak attempt at steampunk. Look at those cliched goggles. That's so last century." I'm more of a fashion dabbler anyway. I like sampling styles from a wide variety of genres and seeing what I get from it.

I like you.

It really annoys me when people go saying "That's not steampunk" just because it doesn't fit into their narrow view of what steampunk is or isn't.

Yes, it's cool when everything has a purpose.
Yes, it's nice when the costumer has a backstory and explanation for every little accessory.

But is it really necessary to hold EVERYONE in the genre to such a high standard?

What's wrong with simply wearing something because it looks cool?

Cogs can be pretty. And I'm sure there was a wave of wearing disused computer parts as jewellery within the modern era, so I'm not sure it's that out of the ordinary. I have a friend who does just that. She takes computer parts, mother boards, etc and makes jewelery out of them.

I'm down with showing skin. The only thing that bothers me is when someone decides upon character who roams the Egypt and bares her arms - it's not even the decency, it's the fact that sleeves protect one from being savaged by insects - a costume (well, all costumes) require a certain semb...Ancient booby-trap laden tombs, curses, assassins, sandstorms, mummies, and heatstroke... and you're worried about a few bugs? o_O

I think showing skin shows a certain kind of toughness. Something along the lines of "yeah, I know it's vulnerable, but I don't care because I'm awesome and agile and stuff"

Cosplay Cyborg
08-30-2010, 07:59 PM
I like what Troppy said about Steampunkers telling people exactly what reason justifies the gears that might be on their top-hat that are in place to keep the creative juices flowing, for example. I also think that if someone decides to Steampunkify another series (in my case, this happens to Hetalia quite often) they better know exactly how to back their shit up. And by that I mean I'm gonna show you the Victorian-ish airline wings pin on my bandanna and tell you it means I am Matthew Williams, exclusive airship mechanic to Alfred F. Jones.

More or less, I absolutely LOVE how much creative liberty you get for use with this "universe" that can be drawn FROM the world of steam and gears. It's astounding, and I find myself surprised often. I've been thinking about making a clockwork polar bear, because one of the costumes I'm designing for my girlfriend is a re-make of the airship mechanic garb I used for Steampunkified Canada, and he has some extensive knowledge in bio-mechanics. In my head, bio-mechanics is different from what the modern day term represents. It's more like the concept of automail from Fullmetal Alchemist.

A friend of mine designed a Time Machine based on a prop from Hetalia called the Dambolis, which is a cardboard box with "ENGLAND" written on the front in the modern world. In Steampunk Hetalia, my friend tells me that Peter Kirkland created some modifications that would send him to an alternate time for however long his parents put him in "time out"--nifty, isn't it?

That's why I love Steampunk. You can get away with SO MUCH awesome!

- Cy