International Steampunk Fashions: The Art of Steam

Author: Victoriana Lady Lisa
Publishing House:
Schiffer Publishing, Ltd
192 pages
Publication: 28th March 2013
Review written by Lady Entropy

Climb into your steam-powered time machine aircraft for a tour of the fashion world, steampunk style. This fashion backward collection features hundreds of intricate, creative, and visionary steampunk designs from top names in the business and fans from around the world. Presented in high-quality fashion photography, the looks in this compendium include head-to-toe Victorian-era style coupled with futuristic, sci-fi concepts, as well as hats, jewelry, and other accessories. With fashions from as far away as Europe, New Zealand, and the Americas, this volume celebrates the diversity and innovators of this international phenomena

( Received as an ARC from NetGalley for an honest Review)

This book is easily the best ARC in terms of quality that I ever got to review to date. I love Steampunk, and, like Steampunk, this is a labour of love and it shows. It’s shock full of delicious tidbits and it’s more than just a book to bring Steampunk to the masses, it’s a celebration.

The introductory essays on the nature and history of Steampunk are simple, warm, passionate and (better yet) non-pretentious, written by people who clearly love it.

After that, we have the photographs split into 3 sections: Europe, New Zealand and the Americas. I liked almost all of them, and I did notice an interesting trend: the Europeans tend to be quite eclectic, from the very striking and suave man in white, to fully experimentalists, while the New Zealanders are outright interpretative and try to push boundaries, while the Americas tended to show a lot more of a Victoriana side, with grand dresses and suits. I’m not sure if this is demonstrative or not, but I found it amusing.

What I didn’t like (and it showed mostly on the European side) were the “Professional” models that showed (modelling for this or that clothes shop). They felt… less Steampunk and more kink. Ie, their clothes lacked the detail, the love, the “made by me” feel of most Steampunk, and instead, you could see how most of the clothes were pre-bought and thrown in in display just to show how attractive the model was, and not to celebrate Steampunk. It was jarring, when compared to the elaborate, delicious and so very clearly put together with love of the “amateurs”. There were some exceptions, but the vast majority of the professionals just left me indifferent — rather than lovers of Steampunk, they seemed “Cosplayers” trying to mimic something they don’t really understand or care about.

It was followed by a section on accessories, but there was too much time and space given to necklaces and pendants and not enough give to what I feel is a staple of Steampunk: the top hat (and other hats). The top hat can be a costume on itself, it can make a costume, and it can be as elaborate as any outfit. And yet, other than a few sparse examples, there were barely any.

The book ended with a “Who’s Who” of some important and known groups, but it kinda left me in the dark, because, well, this is Portugal and none of those groups live nearby.

Finally, a very useful “costume resources” page, that I very appreciate (and will definitely check).

So, 4 stars, and a lovely read. The only reason why it doesn’t take 5 stars is for the “professional” models incident, the lack of top-hats and the “Huh, okay, who are these people?” bit, that I really don’t fault them for, but it felt a little indulgent as a biography, especially for someone who has no way to contact or get involved with these groups.

Recommended for any visual fans of the Steampunk and definitely anyone looking for inspiration for their own costumes.


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