By Andrew Ross Rowe
"Single Ladies" has my colleagues dancing around the office, but Beyoncé's peculiar metal glove has been grinding my gears. Has this pop diva gone steampunk?
For something to be steampunk, it needs two things: gadgets and an old-school theme. Mechanical accessories will hypothetically provide their wearers with heightened strength, just like this giant steampunk arm. Does the glove mean Beyoncé is stronger now? The black-and-white aesthetic provides a vintage vibe reminiscent of cabaret and, in parts, burlesque. (You know those hips are a heartbeat away from a different kind of video.)
Not sure if Beyoncé is steampunk or not? We've got your tutorial video after the jump. Read More...
By Emily Donahue
Amongst bustle skirts and corsets, top hats and tails, brass-rimmed goggles and time-traveling arm bands, it was me, in a black tank top and jeans, that received the most stares in Brooklyn a few weeks ago. I was at the first day of the Dances of Vice festival, an evening that also served as my first taste of Steampunk, a wide-reaching subculture that lately has been, well, picking up steam. Yet people are still hard-pressed to define what is, on the surface, an embrace of the neo-Victorian, but deeper than that, a keenly felt reaction to the stark modernity that has come to homogenize a generation with iPods and Ikea.
Over the course of shooting two separate Steampunk events — Dances of Vice, which spanned both Brooklyn and Manhattan; and SalonCon, a two-day event held in Somerset, NJ — I was exposed to a mix of concerts, fashion shows and lectures. Vendors sold handmade corsets, jewelry made from clock gears and even wings. People's imaginations were on full display in their clothing and accoutrement. I expected to simply observe from a distance, but the more I learned, the more the Steampunk artists and their philosophy began to appeal to me. Musicians I knew and liked were mentioned, such as Tom Waits, Smashing Pumpkins, the Decemberists and even Sufjan Stevens; "Edward Scissorhands," "The Prestige" and "Wild Wild West" were a small handful of the "steamy" movies that I had seen.
I know that imposing a concept like animal rights on the 19th century — a time when slavery was still alive and women couldn't yet vote — might be a tad unrealistic. But that was the quandary at which I arrived when my producer Andrew Rowe asked my vegan self to be a part of his piece on the steampunk scene and wear authentic steampunk garb when we shot our standups.
Not that I have a problem with playing dress-up: One look at the annals of VMA history will remind anyone that I have never been sartorially shy, and frankly the whole Victorian thing — the stovepipe hats, vests, long coats, pocket watches — is kind of cool, in the right time and place. No one really dresses up any more, so why not?