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A little Steampunk style

February 1, 2010
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The Roman Emperors are Not Amused…

Popped along to the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford this weekend to check out their new exhibit- the world’s first exhibition of Steampunk art. If you haven’t come across Steampunk before, basically imagine the digital technology of today crossed with the aesthetic of late Victorian science.

Steampunk is a relatively new discovery for me, but apparently it’s been around for a while. According to Wikipedia:

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy…

The sheer imaginative and technical cunning of the artworks at the exhibition sent me (metaphorically) reeling. The initial visual impact of each piece drew exclamation, and then after intense peering more exclamation, as wondrous small details became apparent. Like this amazing piece by Thomas Willeford and Amanda Scrivener below. Is that a door knocker set into the shoulder?

And I thought this might strike a chord with you chaps. These are the Whole Nine Yards googles by the artist Dr. Grymm. (I could actually use a pair of those…)

Aswell as Steampunk art, Steampunk fashion is rapidly becoming a Big Thing. And on Saturday the museum was filled with “live manequins” showcasing Steampunk outfits. I have to say I was very much taken with Steampunk style, partly because the late Victorian silhouette has always appealed to me. Add to this all manner of contraptions, goggles, cogs, and quirkiness and the resulting look is very much mad inventor meets global circumnavigator.

For men, design elements included military detailing, pith helmets, tweed, leather, as modeled by these two distinguished and may I say extremely dapper gentlemen. (Apologies for the poor quality images- my camera and I couldn’t really cope with the museum lighting…)

For women, the look seemed to veer in one of two directions- towards the feminine bustle and corset. Or towards a more tailored style with waistcoat, breeches, boots and jaunty hat (my personal preference). Like these two stylish ladies who very kindly agreed I could take their picture…

…and then promptly set about a fellow tourist :)

I love the fact that Steampunk style is very much a highly individual means of self-expression. By which what I mean is: that the best Steampunk outfits (it seems to me) thrive on originality and eccentricity. The most breathtakingly successful Steampunk costumes I’ve seen are due in large part to the personality and ingenuity of their creator and wearer. (I’ve seen elements of Steampunk style trickle down into the High Street (thanks also in part to the recent Sherlock Holmes film, I suspect). And I wonder if this is ever so slightly annoying if you’re an Steampunk officianado- to watch your style anaesthetised and watered down and become mainstream?)

The exhibition runs to the 21 February 2010 and admission is free. If you can’t make it to Oxford, check out the video for the exhibition, which highlights some of the artworks on display, the artists, and features more amazing Steampunk costuming:

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Sid Winters permalink
    February 1, 2010 5:40 pm

    Steampunk is very interesting and cool. Creatively creepy, in a way. It has always been fascinating to me how people become so immersed within the worlds they create. Thanks for the link to the video. Wish I lived nearby to see the exhibit,but since I live in the Pacific Northwest in the U.S., the video and your pictures will have to do for me right now. I’m not quite sure how I came across your site, but I really enjoy the it, and look forward to your next ramble. I have always loved my visits to England, Wales, and Scotland, and always have a longing to go back, and visiting your site lets me take a little voyage every time I visit it! I live near the Canadian border, and while I can get good biscuits and teas there, Victoria and Vancouver just aren’t the same, except perhaps the weather! Thanks again for the link.

    • glassoffashion permalink*
      February 2, 2010 1:00 pm

      Hi Sid, thanks so much for your kind words about the site- I’m glad it lets you make a little virtual visit back to the UK! And yes, I would imagine the weather where you are is remarkably similar to what it is here at the moment :)

  2. Lindyhopper permalink
    February 4, 2010 4:15 pm

    Wow, what amazing creations. Apart from making wooden automata, I never realised that the Victorians were into such things.

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