Steam Punk may or may not be a familiar term to you. If you read one of my earlier posts, back in March 2012, Steampunk Goggles (the mind boggles) then you may well remember that I had no idea what it was until my nephew brought it to my attention.
Asked to buy him a pair of steam punk goggles, I duly did the research and discovered a whole new world of which I had only been partly aware through television and film, until then. In that earlier post, I wrote:
“One site I found claims that the Steampunk movement is about to move above ground. Has it been underground then? Visions of leather clad, goggle wearing, Top hatted ladies and gents climbing out of Victorian sewers that spew steam into the atmosphere, come to mind.”
Well, after our recent stay in Chelmsford, Essex (the town, now a city, of my birth) I can reveal that the Steam Punk movement is well and truly above ground.
As we parked the car in the hotel car park, we could not help but notice the group of guests already seated on the patio. Their distinctive costumes drew the eye. Heavily inspired by Jules Verne, neo Victorian corsets were laced tight over scarlet bodices, velvet rubbed shoulders with feather and silk, brightly coloured wigs topped startling eye makeup. It had to be Steam Punk. Goggles were not prominent though ornate watches and elaborate jewellery and head gear were. The complexities of the costumes was impressive to behold. Was it a conference of some sort? We felt quite under dressed, positively drab even, as we walked by.
In the foyer, more guests milled around, wearing similar startling outfits, some looking more at home in them than others. Then we saw the bride. All became clear. This was a wedding, a Steam Punk themed wedding.
The bride wore an ankle length, cream, possibly Champagne, lace dress, her red hair topped by a matching top hat and veil. Ankle boots studded with buckle and lace encased her feet. I would not have been unduly surprised to see my nephew pop up as a guest, in full costume.
The whole event appeared to be spectacular and fun.
Having early evening drinks at the bar before dinner, we were treated to the arrival of the bride and groom at their reception, announced in familiar tones by the Master of Ceremonies. The familiar tones belonged to a gentleman who had performed at the last wedding we had been present at, in the same area, the week before – the latter being a far more traditional affair than this feast of colour and bizarre accessories. What an interesting and colourful world he must inhabit.
For guests less used to such a sight and for those not having a clue what was going on, the couple had thoughtfully furnished each table in the bar, with a small card explaining the origins of steam punk. A nice touch, I thought.
So, Steam Punk is above ground and what’s more, further research reveals fashion being heavily influenced by it… check out: The Top 4 Couture Designers Gone Steampunk. Could I be tempted?
Never say never!
NB: Steampunk refers to a subgenre of science fiction and sometimes fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.
Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West”, in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. It may, therefore, be described as neo-Victorian.