steampunk Mark 5

November 1, 2010

Here’s Mark 5.  A lot of potential here.  I made the bodice over a couple of weekends (it was one of my spring projects!).  I like the pattern, but I’d like to see it with a big foofy skirt, which I didn’t have time to put together this time.  So instead we have elegant and piratical.

Over the last week or so the backlash against steampunk has been awfully concerted, as have the declarations that steampunk is dead.  (It’s appearing on primetime network TV, it must be dead!)  Not surprising, when the whole thing as an aesthetic movement seemed to get so damned popular so damned fast.  (And anything that popular can’t possibly be punk anymore, right?)  I have a couple of responses.  First, steampunk’s been around a long time.  It may not ever be as popular as it is right now, but it’s not going to ever vanish.

Second, a lot of the backlash seems to be criticizing steampunk for what it isn’t, based on what people think it ought to be.  As in, why would anyone want to glorify the Victorian era, considering all that was wrong with it?  Steampunk is far too fanciful to be punk —  it’s Victorian without the London slums, the atrocities of colonialism, etc. etc.  Just like the SCA is the Middle Ages without the Black Death and serfdom.  I think I see both movements, steampunk and the SCA, or any other backwards-looking aesthetic, not necessarily as nostalgia for a bygone time — an ignorant nostalgia in that they try to erase the terrible aspects of those periods — so much as dissatisfaction with the current era, with its lack of style, elegance, formality, and courtesy.  That’s where the punk comes from, I think:  it’s a rebellion against now, rather than an embracing of then.  I think the same could be said of cyberpunk as an aesthetic, only looking forward to a nonexistent future for inspiration rather than looking back to a nonexistent past.

All I know is I’m having a huge amount of fun putting these outfits together.

12 Responses to “steampunk Mark 5”

  1. wygit Says:

    I was thinking about that whole “If it’s mainstream it’s dead.” concept yesterday, when I saw the strip “Luanne”.
    http://comics.com/luann/2010-10-31/

  2. spiderorchid Says:

    Beautiful costume!

    And I agree, a movement is not always just nostalgia – I’m an art-historian specializing (among other things) in the Arts & Crafts movement and their idealized Middle Ages were actually a social protests against labor conditions and the social class system of industrialized Britain, highly political. They didn’t want the Middle Ages back, they wanted to reform their own time. Okay, and they made beautiful arts and crafts, but that’s a plus I think. ^_^

  3. carriev Says:

    What’s so interesting about Arts & Crafts and the neo-Gothic movement is that often _our_ conception of the Middle Ages is based on _their_ conception rather than the actual Middle Ages. It’s recursive!

    Many steampunks also espouse the DIY aspect, which also reaches back to the Arts & Crafts movement. Both are in some ways reactions against mass production.

  4. carriev Says:

    Oh, and I did see the comic, and it just makes me shiver in horror…

  5. Emily Says:

    “As in, why would anyone want to glorify the Victorian era, considering all that was wrong with it?”

    Cuz there’s not a d@mn thing wrong with the clothes, thankyouverymuch.
    🙂

    I’m a huge fan of bodices over various sorts of pants, your steam punk outfit pictured here really looks fantastic. And that is lovely shade of blue on you. 🙂

    My current projects revolve heavily around cross dressing. I’m putting together doublets and paned slops with a Spanish Ropa to be worn over them; preferably with a cane and one of those adorable Elizabethan top hats.

  6. LupLun Says:

    Truthfully? I liked Mark 4 better. More colorful and eye-catching. The cane and badass longcoat are sweet, though.

  7. Re Williams Says:

    Great Outfit!

    I really like the bodice. Could I ask which pattern it is?

    Thanks.

  8. Robert Says:

    David Weber’s Honor series set about 800 years in our future. In his books the some branches of the SCA are into the 20th century romanticizing our culture and primitive weapons. ^_^

    Nothing cool ever survives being popular. Eventually the tourists will leave and steampunk will still be here.

  9. carriev Says:

    The pattern is Newlook 6480: http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/patterns/sewingpatterns.pl?patternid=9160

    The instructions kind of sucked so I made some modifications to it, but I like the pieces/parts/fit.

  10. spiderorchid Says:

    “What’s so interesting about Arts & Crafts and the neo-Gothic movement is that often _our_ conception of the Middle Ages is based on _their_ conception rather than the actual Middle Ages.”

    Exactly – most people, if they don’t think of the equally unrealistic ‘dark ages’, get their concept of the middle ages from Edward Burne-Jones’ paintings and 1950s Hollywood movies. I’m always happy when I find a book or movie/script – be it a historical novel/movie or fantasy – where the author gets things right. Artistic license is one thing, but I draw the line at stained glass in every window and zippers. ^_^

  11. Re Williams Says:

    Thanks for the pattern tip. Wow those are cheap! I’m used to paying around 15 – 20 Euros for a pattern. Even if I have to pay import tax for Europe that would be much cheaper.

  12. Jackie Says:

    I’ve always thought of the steampunk movement as a cross between the Victorian era and Science fiction. Especially fiction. and like most fiction, it is an attempt to understand what makes us and our society tick. I like to see it tick better, myself, but that’s not always true.


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