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Asian-Inspired Steampunk

I'm posting this with some trepidation since this is hardly Victorian in primary inspiration. Taking cues from the 1920s cheongsam and other Chinese clothing, I came up with the following two outfits. There's a lot of playing around with ideas and props we had at hand (including rice hat and opium pipe). I do think I was playing to type rather than against type, so maybe in the future, more creativity and subversion, less attempts at sexy dragon lady.

There's a full write up of the design process behind the outfits on the Costume Mercenary blog (click on the photos). So, what do you think?

( more photos under the fake cut )



( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 2nd, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)
I really like this. I love steampunk which takes inspiration from cultures besides victorian Britain and America. I've been meaning to do a Japanese themed steampunk character at some point and this is total inspiration!
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Aug. 2nd, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC)
Lovely! I love the idea of other Steampunk influenced by other cultures.
Aug. 2nd, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC)
I love them! Both seem very steampunky, as well as gorgeous.
Aug. 2nd, 2010 04:53 pm (UTC)
I particularly like the fact that, were you to leave the props at home, the influence is subtle enough that they could easily fall under the "everyday steampunk" category. Lovely job!
Aug. 2nd, 2010 05:15 pm (UTC)
I always feel a little sheepish about this, but we have a tendency to wheel out all the "steamy" props for this sort of shoot since the fine line between subtle and absent isn't one we want to err on the wrong side of.

But very flattered!
Aug. 2nd, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
well absolutely - photo shoots *need* the accessories. As do conventions, LoJ, etc etc etc.

But it's nice to see outfits that could stand alone as they are, should you wish to wear them to a function that's not specifically steampunk (like to a job, or as the young lady who was asking on this forum just recently about something she can wear to two weddings this year - either of the outfits you pictured would fit such a bill)
Aug. 2nd, 2010 05:11 pm (UTC)
Steampunk ideas from cultures all over the world is what I've wanted to see for a long time - people always go up to me saying how limited and elitist Steampunk is and I'm forever convincing people that it doesn't all have to be Industrial Revolution-era Victorian Britain/USA. Lots of cultures had clockwork, steam power, hydraulics etc before we did and had lots of interesting applications for the technology, and using that knowledge can really add depth to the Steampunk aesthetic and community. I love your outfits, would really like to see more of this sort of thing!
Aug. 2nd, 2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
For more on non-Eurocentric steampunk, have a look at the Beyond Victoriana and Silver Goggles blogs. (I don't have the links ready to hand, but if you google them, they'll come up readily.)
Aug. 2nd, 2010 06:22 pm (UTC)
I follow both with intermittent regularity, Silver Goggles especially.
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Aug. 2nd, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC)
LOOOOOVE it! The dress is awesome and that vest is very very cool, too. I want the dress... hahaha
Aug. 2nd, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC)
Well, needless to say (except I am saying it) the Mercenary does commissions.
Aug. 2nd, 2010 06:06 pm (UTC)
...and I will definitely take advantage of that fact! :D
Aug. 2nd, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
These are awesome. Thank you for sharing. Now I'm totally inspired to modify some Asian outfits from the "Bonesetter's Daughter" I got from an opera sale last year.

There's actually going to be a steampunk convention here in the SF Bay area next year with a "Wild Wild East" theme. You are not alone.
Aug. 2nd, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
So very far away, but am glad to hear it. I shall look longingly at the inevitable photos in due course, no doubt.
Aug. 2nd, 2010 06:07 pm (UTC)
I like 'em! Cheongsams are lovely garments and I keep hoping to see more experimentation with them in steampunk. I think there could be a lot of fascinating variations on them, including some deeply subversive ones.

But my favorite is definitely that grey vest. That is posh! :-D

(It is also correctly pointed out elsewhere in comments that sans goggles, either of these outfits could work beautifully for casual/everyday steam, which is another area I'm interested in seeing people's expansions on.)
Aug. 2nd, 2010 07:14 pm (UTC)
The waistcoat takes most of its cues from stupidly high-waisted Regency fashion and the rest of the outfit is about traditional Chinese as you can get (it can be seen here without the waistcoat). Design elements that might get in through "clockpunk/brasspunk" if it's lucky, but not often, which is a shame, I suppose since I don't believe the Regency should be the sole purview of Jane Austen (though I'm told that may change with the coming Temeraire films and the questionable rise of books like "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies").
Aug. 2nd, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC)
Mm, that is lovely with the wide sash also. I love the overall silhouette, especially with the hat balancing it.

Total agreement about the Regency. I love throwing bits of very-early-Victorian (except some elements of ladies' 1830's attire which I'm allergic to :-) and Regency into steampunk. I mean it's sitting right THERE on the borders of the usual period and it's so pretty, how can you not want to steal it. The highwaisted stuff usually looks very dashing and adventurous to me too.

And it's also really a period in men's fashion where you see a definite shift, a transition between the antique breeches silhouette and the trousers silhouette that really begins to say "suit" to our eyes...also, the movement away from cultural support for the dandy into what we think of as a more 'modern' mindset, where the mark of masculinity becomes sobriety and lack of ornament. (Partly to blame of course are the equestrian fad and Beau Brummell, two eminently Regency things, I rest my case...;-)

Anyway, to me steampunk is *all about* uneasy borders and the ruthless crossing thereof so to me, it only makes sense that a politically and sartorially confused period like the Regency *should* be plundered for it!

But I ramble and must beg your indulgence. :-)
Aug. 2nd, 2010 07:53 pm (UTC)
to me steampunk is *all about* uneasy borders and the ruthless crossing thereof

Right on!
Aug. 2nd, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)
Indulgence granted? Is a ramble I'm intrigued by.

I'm much more in favour of frock coats than the more direct ancestors to the modern "suit", but overall it probably speaks of my first love being periods far earlier than Victorian. I suppose in part it is in that there was is a greater image of it being colourful. It's not that the Victorians didn't desire colour and pattern. But it's a well-known fact that things that try to look like things often do look more like things than things. Thus brass and brown will ever shadow Victoriana for their being evocation of all those sepia photographs that have taken hold of the imagination.

Earlier periods have other, different assumptions, of course...

Point is: Yay, Regency.
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Aug. 2nd, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC)
I think these must be termed post-Victorian era outfits, but still within the larger aesthetic IMHO.
Aug. 2nd, 2010 06:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, lord, they're both LOVELY outfits!

Aug. 2nd, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
I am madly jealous of the cheongsam-type outfit. I think by replacing the fishnets with leggings- especially leather or leather-look-- you could have an elegant Lady of Action or Airship Pirate ensemble.

The second outfit I would absolutely wear to work- very classy!
Aug. 2nd, 2010 07:35 pm (UTC)
There are photos of the cheongsam being worn with black trousers instead of fishnets on the blog if you're interested. Though leather trousers would be rather nice...
Aug. 2nd, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
How cute! What's the print on the dress? It's lovely, as is the very cool vest in the other picture.
Aug. 2nd, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
Chrysanthemum flowers, Chinese longevity symbol and some Greek keys. See closeup from blog writeup.
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Aug. 2nd, 2010 11:28 pm (UTC)
Definitely steampunk and beautiful! Also very classy; you mentioned doing less "sexy dragon lady" but I think it's all simply beautiful and not too played up. Two thumbs up from me :)
Aug. 2nd, 2010 11:51 pm (UTC)
These are gorgeous! I'm new to steampunk, but the cheongsam inspired look is similar to the ideas spinning in my head. Bravo on such lovely designs!
Aug. 3rd, 2010 02:22 am (UTC)
Both gorgeous, especially the vest, which is to die for!
Aug. 3rd, 2010 03:38 am (UTC)
Both are gorgeous, but I especially like the wanderer outfit. It looks comfortable and practical, as well as pretty.
Aug. 3rd, 2010 11:32 am (UTC)
I really like your work and have friended your lj. Hope that's ok.
Aug. 3rd, 2010 11:55 am (UTC)
Not a problem at all and thank you! Though to be honest the LJ often has to play catchup to the blog.
Aug. 4th, 2010 02:24 am (UTC)
I really love both outfits!
Aug. 9th, 2010 09:59 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm delighted to see this! I was just about to post a request for advice and suggestions-- a friend gave me a gown like this and I'd like to modify it to wear to Steamcon, but wasn't sure how to go about it, or even whether it would really fit in at all.

Obviously I needn't have worried about my second question. This is great inspiration for my first one! Thank you! :)

Edited at 2010-08-09 10:05 pm (UTC)
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( 38 comments — Leave a comment )

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