It was a magical setting. A light snow started falling outside of the historic Victorian period hotel, The Columbia Club. The old limestone building had warm light peeking through its iron-fixed oriel windows. Driving away from the maroon awning leading to the front double doors was the most unique limousine, an automobile that appeared to want to go back in time, when vehicles were new contraptions. It was a pearl white and low to the ground, with extra black metal details and what seemed to be pipes for steam on the front.
What waited inside after seeing all the wonderment from the outside only grew more curious. Up on the 10th floor was a grand masquerade ball filled with Victorian-inspired fashion many have not seen before in real life but only in movies. Women wore corsets, hoop shirts and prosthetics, while the men donned military jackets, boots and top hats. Everyone had elaborate metal working throughout their period outfits.
Circle City Aerodrome held this fascinating fantasy event on Valentine’s Day weekend. The name of the event: “A Dark Victorian Romance – A Steampunk Immersion Weekend.” It seemed to be a mini convention consisting of workshops on various facets of steampunk culture, a game room and events such as afternoon tea and a masquerade ball. It welcomed folks from all over the nation and any clothing style that a person preferred.
The steampunk movement was thought to have started with fiction works from Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and Mary Shelley that featured retro-futuristic technology. Through them, various movies, music, games and art were created purely based on the aesthetic. Modern examples include movies and television shows such as “Wild Wild West,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “Hansel & Gretel” and “Doctor Who.” Persons involved in other fantasy communities took interest and started implementing the style as, well.
Steampunk also encourages personas. For this, there are few steampunk-specific events, but the style is welcome at many fantasy conventions such as Gen Con and Comic Con.
Participants of this rich community come from all different angles for their steampunk fashion. Some draw their interest from sci-fi; others love the history, having a passion for gothic style or just for the intricate costume fashion. Having such an array of inspiration and influences has created a subculture that is now turning into a quickly growing super-culture. These influences can be very distinctively seen at steampunk events, but they all have two key factors in common – Victorian fashion and metal accessories.
Getting the steampunk look isn’t always easy – many times, individuals will have to hand make their outfits or have items specially made. A few steampunk lovers noted that going to a consignment shop and then adding or remaking articles of clothing oftentimes worked. One girl bought sheets from Goodwill to make a ruffled skirt. The interest in steampunk fashion has also created a small market of talented tailors that many times you can find on Etsy. There are a few locally in Indianapolis with this particular gift of professionally crafting custom corsets and personalized vests.
It appears that this community is on the verge of becoming mainstream after having some humble and artistic beginnings. Keep a lookout for this trend coming your way soon!