Steampunk is a sub-genre of fantasy and speculative 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, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date. Other examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of "the path not taken" of such technology as dirigibles, analog computers, or digital mechanical computers (such as Charles Babbage's Analytical engine); these frequently are presented in an idealized light, or with a presumption of functionality.
Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical "steampunk" style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.
Enter Steampunk Couture, owned and run by model-turned-designer, Kato. Her eclectic mix of casual and formal wear, and impeccable attention to detail has made her truly someone to keep an eye on:
"I heard the term "Steampunk" in April 2005 and quickly realised that my fashion design represented many elements of the style. I have an obsessive love for Victorian architecture and have been lucky enough to have moved from one Victorian house to another while living in the UK. I make up for the lack of 1800s here in Los Angeles by packing my apartment to bursting with antique and Victorian furniture. It helps me feel at home. Unfortunately my busy schedule keeps me from being as actively involved in the steampunk community as I would like to be."
I am completely in love with Steampunk Couture, and I was overjoyed when I saw on their MySpace blog that they were now offering to loan clothing out to established models free of charge. I promptly sent an email and now I just wait patiently for Kato to hopefully respond.
To be perfectly honest, I only became familiar with the style of steampunk a few years ago. Originally, I was confused and actually a bit turned off by it. I normally don't find anything brown appealing... nor gold. However after doing some digging, I discovered that when styled properly steampunk creates and almost "industrial wonderland" that I do indeed adore. Often, steampunk outfits will be accented with a mixture of technological and period accessories: timepieces, parasols, goggles and ray guns. Even modern accessories like cell phones or music players can be found in steampunk outfits, after being modified to give them the appearance of Victorian-made objects. Aspects of steampunk fashion have been anticipated by mainstream high fashion, the Lolita fashion and aristocrat styles, neo-Victorianism, and the romantic goth subculture
So there you have it! A condensed-soup breakdown of a curious subculture and its equally curious advocates. In today's world where alternative subculture seems to no longer exist, its refreshing and hopeful to see artists fight to keep it alive.