When Literature Makes Steam

Alice in Wonderland traveling in a hot air balloon in eighty days, wearing a big top hat with goggles and pocket watches attached on it… Flying above the Wonderland and seeing steam machines and smoke all underneath her. This is not a start of a remake of Alice in Wonderland, this is just what I dreamt of last night. Got me to think how much I’m obsessed with another subculture – steampunk.

Born like my dream, out of fictional novels, set in the past times but oriented towards the future. It most reminds me of creative DIY industry that is set back in 1800s but let’s take a closer look.

Invention That Changed Humanity

In the center of the Steampunk subculture is definitely steam engine, monolithic invention that made traveling for people possible. You can see every inch of it and all of it’s parts are in front of your eyes. When you turn it on, slowly life of the future is happening in front of you.

Steam engine is a metaphor for the subculture. It serves as a reminder that technology should be more humane, to make it closer for people so thet they can understand it and be a part of creating it. Imagine how crazy are steampunkers going over Artificial Inteligence right now?!

Steampunk is essentially different than goth with it’s creativity towards the technology and inventions in general. They like to be a part of the change, to affect and deconstruct the product they bought from 1956 (e.g) and make it work for the future.

“Steampunk is just goth that discovered brown colour” (joke, people!)

A lot, and I mean A LOT of effort is invested in making the accessorize that Steampunkers wear. When you see something that looks like a backpack but actually it’s a working clock that dates back from the 19th century, you need to show your respect and put your top hat down. Aesthetic and fashion is so lively and luxurious.

Until the end of the 80s steampunk was included as a variant within cyberpunk and retrofuturisms. It was not until 1987, that author JKW Jeter coined the term to define some of his own novels and those of other writers such as Tim Powers.

During the 80 's and early 90' s, its huge influence soon spread beyond literature, serving as inspiration to other artistic expressions, including fashion.

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Goggles, goggles, goggles. More goggles.

Inspired by fiction and mixture of past collaborating with future it’s accessorize is unique in so many ways, but the accessorize that is a staple for steampunk fashion is – you guessed it! Goggles! So many colours and sizes of different prices.

Honestly, it is not a cheap fashion. Leather belts and gloves, original corsets and pocket watches can be bought in thrift shops or flea markets for small amount of money and if that happens you’re born under a lucky star, but usually the prices are quite high. Steampunk and goth fashion are made of the luxurious details that are impassable.

All the Similarities it has with it’s Brother Goth

Just like Goth, inspiration came, besides fiction, from Victorian era. We can see a lot of similarities regarding corsets, leather, lace and again mystery that we talked about in the previous blog posts and eventually, goth and steampunk became brother and sister and today have many jointed festivals and conventions.

In this sense the steampunk aesthetic often tends to acquire a certain adventurous spirit, in addition to the essentially technological one that characterizes it. Interesting fact is that among the steampunk followers there is a certain tendency to adopt a certain role (pirate, aristocrat, adventurer, scientist, ...) that they try to recreate through their dressing. Elements of military inspiration are also frequent within steampunk costumes.

 Steam Engine Going Strong

It is clear that steam engine that drives this creativity can’t be further from shutting down. I am excited to see in which ways will it grow and what kind of revolution will it bring. Until then we can enjoy a Sunday lunch in a park with our butlers!







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