Sure the worlds of Steampunk are often filled with vivid characters. But to the visual critique, it is the art and fashion that most often sets the stage for the visually concentrated genre. Anatomy of Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian Futurism by Katherine Gleason is a beautifully constructed book from Race Point Publishing, and perhaps one of the most complete visual accounts of the Steampunk world. Within its pages, readers are introduced to the allure of Steampunk and get a better feel for what Steampunk is all about.
Yes, there is fashion in Anatomy of Steampunk (it is after all in the subtitle). With a forward from author K. W. Jeter explaining the influences of Steampunk fashion and an introduction from author and lecturer Diana M. Pho providing some enlightenment as to just what Steampunk really is, the reader gets an instant feel for the content of the book. But it is author Katherine Gleason who brings it all together with insights into the various facets of Steampunk while presenting the many images provided by a wide range of contributors.
There are only five chapters in the book, but each breaks the fashion down into five distinct characteristics. “Fine and Formal” covers the imagery familiar to ceremonial events one might find on a runway. “Stage Crafted” takes a look at the theatrical wear while “Adventure Wear” is more inspired by the world traveler. “Work Gear” shows the heart of the world of cogs with an inventive look at the working class and some of their tools while the last chapter “Street Style” brings the book full circle with images of the Steampunk fashion one might find on the modern streets.
The images in the book are simply stunning and will appeal to everyone who picks it up. For those new to the genre, it is an eye opening introduction to the intricate details of the fashion. To those familiar to the genre, the book is a validation of what we’ve known all along, Steampunk is full of romantic science fiction delicacies set in the lavish Victorian era, all entwined with spectacular ideas and imagination.
Author Katherine Gleason is credited as the writer of the book and bringing this all together, but there is also a long list of contributors who helped make it possible:
“Designers and steampunk groups featured in the book include—Airship Isabella, Ali Fateh, Berít New York, Black Garden, Blasphemina’s Closet, Brute Force Studios, Clockwork Couture. DASOWL, Dawnamatrix, The Extraordinary Contraptions, Festooned Butterfly, Harvash, Hi Tek by Alexander, House of Canney, KMKDesigns, Kristi Smart, Kristin Costa, KvO Design, Lastwear, The League of S.T.E.A.M., Marquis of Vaudeville, Megan Maude, Michael Salerno, Morrigan New York, Ms. Purdy’s, Muses Well, Redfield Design, RockLove, Sidharta Aryan, SkinzNhydez, Spyder Designs, Tokyo Inventors Society, Tom Banwell, and The Uprising of the Gin Rebellion.”
For the DIY fan, you will also find ten instructional projects including Top hats, Spats, Steampunk blaster, Steampunk gauntlet (glove/cuff), Cycling breeches, Steampunk goggles, Suspenders of Steam, Sleeve garters, Steampunk pendant, and a Cravat (neckwear). From things around the house to inexpensive items you might find at a resale shop, these step by step instructions will help your Steampunk worlds come to life.
This is not just a big book to be left out on the coffee table so you can look cultured (though this will undoubtedly happen). From a literary standpoint, Anatomy of Steampunk is a powerful sourcebook for all that is Steampunk and a valuable tool for those who take the genre seriously. From readers to writers, the imagery brings the Steampunk to life and provides a unique perspective this fantastic world. Even the dedicated Cosplay participant will find inspirational ideas and techniques to help hone their craft. The amazing images combined with the insightful views of author Katherine Gleason, Anatomy of Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian Futurism is an ideal addition to any library (or coffee table—because that’s where mine sits).