The Victorian age has always inspired a sense of romance in modern hearts. The proper ladies in their corsets while the men dress in their fineries, top hats and canes, in a world full of hope and wonders that science was just starting to develop. At this time, fiction writers like Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs were imagining futures as they saw it.
Books like Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea and The Time Machine became some of the first science fiction novels and have inspired generations. Now a new concept has swept into culture, combining the beauty and design of the Victorian Era with the fantastic imagination of the science fiction it produced, as well as its own modern twist. It’s called Steampunk and it’s hot in Salt Lake City.
“It doesn’t make a difference who you are, what you are, where you are, anything, everybody is equal in Steampunk.” said Chris Caporal, or as his fellow Steampunk friends know him by, Dr. Thaddeus Percival Wallace. “If you’re not having fun you’re doing it wrong.”
There certainly is something for everyone in Steampunk. Video games such as Fable II and III incorporate the style. Films like Wild Wild West and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen have also capitalized on the new counter culture. The idea of the past having technologies that would be hard to achieve in our time captures the imagination like few else can.
One of its biggest draws also is the fashion.
“It’s a very beautiful sense of fashion,” said Nikki Nivi, also known as Lady Bianca and unofficial leader of the Steampunk community in Salt Lake. “You get the extreme outfits to the barely there attire so it covers a huge genre of fashion.”
The look of Steampunk is a mix of the Victorian fashion with the modern twists. Combinations of leather, gears and dials create a feeling of a “what if” future, elegance and technology combined into an incredible look.
“Steampunk women are some of the most beautiful women in the world,” Wallace said. “But on the same ticket, Steampunk men, with some of these high fashions with the top hats and the tails, we look pretty good too.”
Many Steampunk aficionados take on personas; alternate personalities they can become to better engross themselves into fictional worlds. Wallace and Bianca are only two examples among the myriad of time travelers, adventurers, explorers, paranormal hunters and engineers that populate the culture.
“You’re doing escapism but at the same time you’re anchored in the present. It’s like Steampunk is past, present and future. It’s like all different times coming to one point,” Wallace said.
“You develop your own character. It’s much more like creating a character for Dungeons and Dragons or a tabletop game than it is picking a character from an anime or movie. Definitely start from within,” Nivi said.
One of the best places to get into Steampunk culture is online. Steampunkempire.com is a great place for those that are curious or who want to become involved in the culture. The website is also a good place to make contacts in the Salt Lake area via Bianca’s group, the West Desert Steampunk Society. The group keeps up to date on upcoming Steampunk events in the area.
If you want to combine fashion with old fashioned, imaginations with innovation, and creativity with culture, get into Steampunk. Chances are you’ve been a fan all along and never knew it.