Steampunk: Baroque Fashion...and Outdoor Sport
October 01, 2009
I've covered the Steampunk movement here a bit already, but darn it's a neat thing so I'm going to mention it again and add more to it.
(My old item: http://www.outyourbackdoor.com/article.php?id=983.)
In a nutshell, my take on it is that Steampunk is a homemade fashion movement built around an intermingling of Victorian clothing style and "craft-era mechanical stuff" and gungho action, meaning Romance. Leather, curves, and brass feature prominently. It still sounds good to me!
...The funny thing is that a lot of fashion and equipment that I've always liked seems to fit into this scene's values.
Where Steampunk somewhat departs from my own style is in its purely fun, party, useless aspect when it's an approach to fantasy costumes. But I'll go for it on Halloween! Still, it's mostly a SciFi Con thing -- a fan convention thing. Dungeons and Dragons. Not really me. But PARTLY me. There are indeed some practical aspects to such a style and that's where I cross over to it. But why do I insist on practicality? I guess I like to merge my interests. So I like to really do some nice canoeing, but I like the idea of using craft-era equipment to do it with. But I can SEE the point of doing such things with vintage style even if "performance" were impaired. Both camps work for me.
A great thing about Steampunk is its openness. There's no real rule beyond a vague notion of Victorian Futurism. The main thing is DIY: make it yourself.
As for me, in fashion I'm happy to include tweed in my outfits these days. And vintage leather items. And traditional hats. Sure, it's part of the classic/vintage revival scene that a lot of folks are appreciating these days. Think the movie "Seabiscuit." http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0329575/
And I like ornate, vintage cycling, too -- a la the Lake Pepin 3 Speed Tour and other Tweed Cycling events. http://www.3speedtour.com/
Where I might get thrown more into the Steampunk camp is when you blend in my taste in firearms. I tend to like Victorian styling in guns. My favorites have ornate curves or a Machine-Age look. Now, I'm happy to use them for hunting, target shooting or protection. But a real Steampunk just takes an orange plastic toy Nerf-gun and paints it up gold, bronze and brown to look Baroque and has fun pretending. So I'm not really there, but I'm close. (Halloween, ahoy!)
I haven't seen the real world connection emphasized much in this scene, so that's my two bits.
What brought Steampunk back to mind for me was seeing a couple at a local Civil War reenactment this summer. I couldn't put my finger on why they looked so cool. Then I figured it out. It was the sexy corset plus the clock gears... And the tall, prim, pale semi-goth attitude. Oh yeah!
Then there are the movies that I like. Lots of Steampunk there! Witness: Steamboy, Sky Captain (and World of Tomorrow), Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso. Heck, all the movies of Miyazaki have Steampunk in their veins. Since they're about my fave movies, I think we're onto something!
Pirates are a factor, too, I'd think. Just add Industry and you're there.
Here's a site with pics that basically say it all, in terms of fashion, anyway: http://utini420.blogspot.com/2008/09/dragoncon-2008-costumes-steampunk.html
They're really into goggles. Leather'n'brass.
A Mistress of Steam... (at DragonCon.)
Steam at DragonCon...
Rem. Model 8 .35 auto -- one of my faves -- and one of the first rifles I ever used for deer season.
The Mannlicher-Schonauer has been a fave since I was a teen. The double-triggers and the butterknife bolt and the full schnabel forend. Oh my! (But the image sadly doesn't include the schnabel.)
The top break Schofield revolver was one of the first major pistols to be made for brass cartridges, that is, after black powder and percussion caps. For the BP era nothing beats the Romance of the 4.5-lb Colt Walker, but they're so messy. The Schofield has almost as much Romance but doesn't take 5 minutes to be reloaded or need to be scrubbed for 10 minutes with hot soap water after each outing.
The TC Contender is another fave from teen years. It's a super-accurate, ornate, singleshot, break-barrel pistol. What's really neat is that in the Encore model, the action can be used in 5 other gun modes, with different barrels and stocks (BP, shotgun, rifle, pistol, rimfire).
The Broomhandle Mauser pistol is a classic of ornate design. The stock option doesn't hurt. I've always liked it, since a kid, but I never knew it was Steampunk until now.
Civil War inspiration for Steampunk.
Yeah, it's a stretch from Vintage Outdoors to Steampunk but not SUCH a big one. Here's a gang offering a little of everything at DragonCon.
The classic Steampunk gun: a modified "oxidized" Nerf gun. More at: http://www.jeremyclough.com/2008/12/29/steampunk-nerf-maverick/