What is Steampunk?

Steampunk is a fashion child of contemporary art and science fiction. This genre was created and promoted in several literal giants such as War of the Worlds and Twenty thousand leagues under the sea. However, the main breakthrough steampunk is having in past 20 years thanks to movies, games and cosplay.


Steampunk history

The term “steampunk” was created by K. W. Jeter as a variation of term cyberpunk and basically it meant a group term for sf novels of three different authors: Tim Powers (The Anubis Gates), James Blaylock (Homunculus) and his (Morlock Night). Steampunk was actually only a science fiction genre in literature until it become more than that, because it was brought back to life by film and fashion. Imagine the world caught in utopian picture of post-apocalipse- the world of 19-th century industrial era, where you have only basic electricity and mechanics. Items which are included in everyday praxis such as screws, gears and wheels are a part of this.  You can also find telescopes, microscopes and steam machines.


Steampunk in movies

Expansion of the literature created some famous movies in steampunk genre and  several subgenres in steampunk fashion. In 60’s directed by Karel Zeman : The Fabulous World of Jules Verne and The Fabulous Baron Munchausen, were great intro into world of steampunk. After that, there are movies of Oldřich Lipský, Wells and Walt Disney studio’s. Television show The Wild Wild West united  in 1965 steampunk with American western world of cowboys, and created Wild West steampunk fashion style.  The movie of the same name filmed in 1999, was also very popular. Besides that, there are Medieval Steampunk, Victorian steampunk and industrial or modern steampunk. Examples of this steampunk genres we can see in movies, such as Hellboy, Van Helsing, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. One of the greatest movies ever made based on steampunk  theme is Miyazaki’s- Howl’s moving castle. You can also find elements of this genre in world-class tv series- Dr Who.


Steampunk fashion

Steampunk in fashion is actually a mixture of  Victorian fashion,  modern corsetry and retro-futuristic style with science fiction.  This fashion style is an alternate history style based on industrial steam machines. It is not a direct replica of historical era, it is how the world would look like in Victorian imaginary reality.

Girl in a stylized steampunk costume posing on a dark background. Anime.

How to recognize steampunk fashion design? First of all the main items  are these:  gowns, bustiers, corsets, suits, vests and coats. You can see leather and brocade structures, rich luxurious ruffles on the skirts for ladies and suits and simple designers cuts with vests for gentlemen. Items which are most recognizable accessorize are glasses, hats and unique jewelry that looks like a part of a machine.  Clocks and clock’s mechanisms are part of steampunk as well. Because of the popularity of cosplay and video games steampunk became a part of every major cosplay convention. Steampunk outfits, modified corsets and bustiers, armors are more than costume, they are lifestyle. The spectre of colors and design are something that separates steampunk fashion from goth fashion. Colors of the steampunk wardrobe are mostly earthy brown, dark green and some pastels. Sometimes can be even black but the design of this clothes has different decoration- strong edges, buckles, belts, steampunk decoration.


Why to wear steampunk wardrobe? Well, because it is fun to be time traveler in everyday basis.