Monday, March 5, 2012

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”

- Oscar Wilde

On Friday some mates and I went over to Footscray to check out Steamscape, an exhibition hosted at Post Industrial Design which explores “the steampunk movement through fashion, design, sculpture, painting and much more.” I was only peripherally aware of what ‘steampunk’ is, thankfully I serendipitously met Oscar on the way to the event. As the coordinator of SteamUp, the past steampunk event in Melbourne; Oscar was happy to give me a thorough introduction into what exactly ‘steampunk’ is.

Steampunk is a sub genre-culture of Science Fiction that embodies what life today would be like today if imagined by somebody in the 1800s, or more or less if electricity hadn’t taken off and replaced steam power. Aesthetically it rejects mass production and consumption and focuses on craftsmanship that melds victorian design with mechanics. What I gathered is that it’s much like living life in a Jules Verne novel or inspired film. The sub-genre of science fiction came into prominence in the 1990s and appears to have taken off in Melbourne in the last 5 years.

Steamscape itself was a wonderful introduction into what I find most interesting about cultural movements of all types - the art and aesthetics of it. My friends and I were both surprised at the size of the event and it’s family friendly nature - there were heaps of kids. There was also a lot going on. Complimentary wine and food in the back (great sushi & Devil’s Elbow - a nice drop) with music by The Penny Dreadfuls. There was heaps of mingling and lovely folk dressed to the nines in their own creations or commissioned outfits. Dandyism seemed to be a major component of the work and the event itself. 

There were also performances, which my friends and I unfortunately missed in the midst of our mingling but we heard great things about. The work on display was a good range of pieces and included quite a bit of millinery and haberdashery, and a fashion show. The fashions displayed on the runway were from Clockwork Butterfly. 

They were elaborate and very impressive. In truth though, many of the looks I saw off the runway were just as well put together. Really the entire affair was one of sartorial elegance.
Some of the dandy folk I met included some gentlemen named Dayrl, Sheridan, Sebastian, and of course Oscar. While they all came into the steampunk phenomena through different angles I suspect what keeps them involved is reason to get suited up and look so snazzy, In fact I appreciated many of the get ups I saw and some I managed to photograph.

Steamscape was part of the cultural events L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival which is hosting a range of events this month around town. Notably it’s also the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. I hope to take advantage of a few more events from both and me and some mates are hitting up the Amanda Palmer show tomorrow at the Northcote Social Club. 

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