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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 )



( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
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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!
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!
(no subject) - shadowedrabbit - Aug. 2nd, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
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.
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.
(no subject) - thesquishywolf - Aug. 2nd, 2010 06:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
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").
(no subject) - doctorcaligari - Aug. 2nd, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cerrberus - Aug. 2nd, 2010 07:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - costumemerc - Aug. 2nd, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
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.
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!
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