When people get to know me, they find out that I have several interests that are in sharp contrast to the fact that I’m a grandmother of nine. Besides writing paranormal stories and going on ghost hunts, I also like to dress up in Victorian Clothing. The ghost hunting comes natural, I seem to attract spirits who for some reason or another refuse to cross over.
The writing, I’m a born story teller, but my involvement with Steampunk was due to my oldest granddaughter. I was still working at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and my granddaughter was attending Moore College of Art and Design to learn about fashion design. Allie, who started out wearing dark Goth clothing in her first year at Moore, was heavily into Victorian fashions by her senior year. One day she stopped by the museum and asked me to accompany her to an event. “Sure, what should I wear?” I asked thinking dress slacks or the basic black dress. “No, granny, I’ll dress you,” she replied. I was somewhat confused and maybe a little wary, but I went to her house after work and she showed me this beautiful Victorian skirt, blouse and bonnet. “Who’s that for?” I asked. Find out after the jump.
Steampunk, which many believe, started in the 1980’s was relatively unknown to the general public, but with such movies like Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr., The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen starring Sean Connery, and Wild Wild West starring Will Smith, it’s becoming more mainstream. But what exactly is Steampunk? Think of the stories written by Jules Verne or H.G. Wells. Steampunk is a sub-genre or sub-culture which ties together fashion, books, movies and events that connect the Victorian Age with scientific, technological and futuristic machines that are powered by steam. The clothing includes anything from gowns, corsets, petticoats, bustles, Top hats, vests, pocket watches and canes to the Lolita style clothing which is very popular in Japan and here in the states at the Comic-con events.
My initial response to Allie was, “Are you nuts?” I had no intention of going anywhere dressed like Jane Eyre… but obedient grandmother that I am, I let her dress me in the clothing and bonnet and off we went to Dorian’s Parlor. Dorian’s is the brainchild of Gil Cnaan, the man responsible for bringing high society Steampunk events to Philadelphia. Gil hosts an event every several months at the Double Tree Hotel in center city. These events offer food, music, live performances, magic and fashion shows. The guests were dressed in different styles of Steampunk fashion, some as elegant as the clothing worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind to Swashbuckling Pirate outfits. Not only was I was hooked on the world of Steampunk that first night, but I’ve been attending these events ever since, and have encouraged my ghost hunter friends to come along.
Where to Find the Outfits
I wanted to put together my own outfit, but where to shop? Luckily I found a few places, like thrift shops that carry neo-vintage clothing, Auction sales, Gentlemen’s Emporium, an online store and a great antique shop in my town called Steampunk Works. The owners of Steampunk Works asked me to model in their Fashion Show at Dorian’s this year.
High Fashion Meets Steampunk
For those of you that think that Steampunk is a passing fancy, you’ll be surprised to learn that Prada designed a line of men’s clothing for their 2012 Fall/Winter Collection, which was modeled by four very distinguished gentlemen, Gary Oldman, Willem Dafoe, Garrett Hedlund and Jamie Bell.
I’m not your typical granny and I enjoy trying out new things. My grandchildren drag me into all kinds of adventures and… sometimes… I return the favor.