Described as one of the foremost authorities on Steampunk GD Falksen has been one of the strongest proponents of the steampunk movement. As a fiction writer and blogger, not to mention he looks amazing in Steampunk costumes, Mr. Falksen has been a go to guy for all things Steampunk. So I was terribly excited when he agreed to take time out of his busy schedule and talk about the fashion of Steampunk.
(CN) First and foremost can you introduce yourself?
(G. D. Falksen) My name is G. D. Falksen. I am the author of several books and short stories, including The Ouroboros Cycle series and a forthcoming YA book being released by Soho Teen in 2016.
(CN) Can you define Steampunk Fashion for our readers?
(G. D. Falksen) Steampunk fashion is simply fashion inspired by steampunk fiction and the steampunk aesthetic, essentially the sort of thing that you might find someone wearing in a steampunk novel or film. It’s a diverse and varied style that combines the elegance of the 19th century with tremendous creativity and imagination.
(CN) Since Steampunk Fashion is based off of Victorian élan does the variety of Victorian fashion across the world fit in (ie. The American West during the Victorian era, Asian acculturation during the time period) or does the fashion have to be based upon British/European Victoriana?
(G. D. Falksen) High Victorian styles are often the most seen in steampunk (which is likely the result of late 19th century Britain’s visibility in our modern popular culture), but in fact steampunk and steampunk fashion draw upon influences from the whole of the 19th century (and the 20th century up to the First World War) and from the entire world during that time period. Historically, the technological advancements of the period allowed for an unprecedented level of interaction between people across the world, and logically the even greater level of technology in steampunk would only increase this. In short, any culture or civilization that existed during the 19th century has an equal and valid role to play in steampunk fiction and fashion.
(CN) Aside from the obvious are there any stand out differences between women’s and men’s Steampunk fashions? Are these differences due to the historical time frame constraints or has the fact that Steampunk is a modern fashion trend created other differences/or lack thereof?
(G. D. Falksen) In a broad sense, men’s and women’s steampunk fashions would be influenced by the styles of the culture and time period they are drawing on (which, as I mentioned previously, is a very diverse topic that spans more than 100 years and the entire globe), but being a modern construction it allows for much greater freedom (it would have been taboo for a woman to wear a suit in the Victorian era; that is obviously no longer the case today). Really, steampunk fashion is about choice, options, and personal expression. It’s about people drawing upon a historical period to help express their own personal style.
(CN) How would a Steampunk newcomer go about starting his or her own costume?
(G. D. Falksen) One of the great things about steampunk fashion is that it’s about clothing rather than costumes, which often makes it easier to put an outfit together. Certainly, clothes from the 19th century can be difficult to locate (and those that can be found are antiques and better preserved than worn) but for a person interested in sewing, most fabric shops have at least one or two patterns for recreating 19th century styles. And furthermore, for a person just starting out, the modern three piece suit is descended from Victorian men’s casual wear, while an easy Edwardian women’s outfit is simply an ankle-length skirt with a blouse, all of which are easy to find in thrift stores (assuming you don’t have the pieces in your closet already). From those two simple bases, you can then accessorize or add to your heart’s content.
(CN) Are there some must haves when putting together a great Steampunk Costume?
(G. D. Falksen) I like to say “start historical and then add” for ease of assembly, but aside from that basic guideline there really isn’t anything mandatory. It’s all about drawing upon a mixture of period style and one’s own imagination for personal expression.
(CN) How does Diesel punk and Steampunk differentiate in your opinion?
(G. D. Falksen) What’s sometimes referred to as “dieselpunk” (alternatively you may be more familiar with the term “pulp adventure” or “pulp sci-fi”) is a style of retrofuturist fiction and aesthetics based on the early and mid 20th century. It picks up where steampunk leaves off (at the end of the First World War) and continues on until shortly after the Second World War (I find it’s easiest to say it covers from about 1920 to about 1950). Whereas steampunk takes the technology of the Victorian era (the steam engine and the various advancements it made possible) and says “what if?”, pulp or “dieselpunk” does the same thing with technology in its time period (petroleum fuel, electricity, early generation computers, etc).
(CN) What are some of your favorite Steampunk concepts?
(G. D. Falksen) I’m generally fascinated by the history of technology, so I especially enjoy the way that steampunk translates modern concepts or capabilities into a 19th century industrial context. A computer revolution growing from Babbage’s Difference Engine and Analytical Engine, for example, or the use of the telegraph to simulate the modern Internet. It’s all extremely interesting from both a fictional and a historical point of view.
(CN) What concepts would you love to see done with a Steampunk twist?
(G. D. Falksen)I’m a big fan of spy-fi so I really enjoy seeing well done Victorian espionage, especially drawing on parallels to the Cold War.
(CN) What would you like people to understand about Steampunk culture?
(G. D. Falksen)I think it’s important for people to understand just how diverse and expansive steampunk is. People shouldn’t feel like they have to adhere to the same style as everyone else. It’s about personal expression coupled with a love of history, and I think it really is big enough to offer something to just about everyone.
(CN) Are there any other things you would like to touch on about Steampunk fashion?
(G. D. Falksen)Above all, be yourself. All fashion is about expressing your own tastes and interests, so if you like 19th century fashion (and that’s a really big topic) I say embrace it and use it to channel your own personal style.