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Dissecting Anatomy of Steampunk
Created by wilhelminaframe on 2/25/2014 3:00:58 AM

Editrix de Mode Wilhelmina Frame reviews Anatomy of Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian Futurism.


Anatomy of Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian Futurism by Katherine Gleason is the latest, and in my opinion, one of the strongest Steampunk fashion book to date. Ms. Gleason is no stranger to fashion and publishing. She has authored over thirty books including the extremely well regarded Alexander McQueen: Evolution. Considering the status as icon and spirit guide that McQueen holds for many a Steampunk fashionista, it certainly helps Ms. Gleason’s pedigree. A forward by K. W. Jeter and an introduction by noted blogger Diana M. Pho give the volume further legitimacy. 

The book’s chapters are divided by genre of Steampunk fashion rather than by designer, location or other marker. This is a unique, and in my view, wise choice as it presents the uninitiated with a bit more order to understand the directions in which Steampunk and Steampunk influenced fashions both converge and also split. In addition to designers and professional makers, Ms. Gleason highlights bands, performers and even a few people who are just well known within the scene for their style sense. The inclusion of personalities like dandy Phil Powell or Airship Archon Captain Anthony LaGrange (aka Tony Ballard-Smoot) show that Ms. Gleason recognizes that sometimes the people who wear the clothes can be just as influential as the people who design them.

A spread from Anatomy of Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian FuturismPresumably, in a nod to the DIY aesthetic that runs throughout Steampunk fashion, Anatomy of Steampunk features several tutorials by Won Park and Norm Berg. All are very well illustrated but their inclusion is a bit confounding to me. In a book of only 224 pages, at least 50 of those pages are devoted to tutorials. I would not call Anatomy of Steampunk a crafting book. If anything, it is closer to those fancy cookbooks you’re not really supposed to actually cook out of. Why so many tutorials in a book that doesn’t seem to be designed to get dirty?

A Spread from Anatomy of Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian FuturismAs much as I like Anatomy of Steampunk as a survey, I feel like it doesn't quite show just how much influence “the kids” (or adults, or old fogies) have on Steampunk fashion. Steampunk style is still, by and large, driven by individual thrifting, DIY and home sewing. That isn’t to say that there aren’t designer or performer influences but I would argue that just like the original Punk, the collective "fans" have at least an equal influence on the body, or perhaps anatomy, of Steampunk style. Maybe though, I'm being a bit too picky here and perhaps that’s different Steampunk fashion book that has yet to be written. Anatomy of Steampunk remains a lovely, well-produced volume worthy of spot in your fashion library.

 

Anatomy of Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian Futurism is available at all the standard outlets (including Amazon.)

All Images courtesy of Quayside Publishing Group.

 

Editrix de Mode and Part Time Lion Tamer, Wilhelmina Frame travels the globe in pursuit of adventure and style. When not in the circus ring with Rajah, her tiger and the rest of her “Kitten Kabal” (seven lions, three cheetahs and a rather droll panther), Ms. Frame can be seen at the most fabulous parties, in the latest fashions, sparkling with wit in conversation. Ms. Frame is the founder and Tiffin Master of The American Tea Duelling Society. Ms. Frame's alter-ego, Gretchen Jacobsen, is a freelance producer, award-winning costumer, prolific crafter, frequent convention panelist and model. You can visit Ms. Frame on Facebook, follow her on Pinterest or via @ptliontamer on Twitter or read her blog, Part Time Lion Tamer .

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