• Tamarah Webb

Reimagining the past: Engineering a locomotive of Steampunk in Chi-town

“Steampunk” is a sub-genre, a style, a mix, and a theme. “Steam” addresses 19th-century advanced technologies in a world were electricity and petroleum don’t exist. “Punk” expresses an edge applied to the Victorian style and subgenre.

MySteampunkArmy models shot by Photographer Violeta Vara.

In the world of Steampunk, there is a strong reliance on mechanisms —as opposed to complex technology. Gadgets with gears, pulleys, and ropes— all the cool tangible stuff that is neat to see in motion—are expressions of the industrial aspect of Steampunk, according to designers, Chris Erickson.

Erickson and event coordinator, Bek Andoloro, are organizers who represent Copper Roses & Absinthe, a group that helped give the night a sense of classy science fiction in a time of the 1880s.

When a fashion show of various Steampunk trends came onto the stage, the audience is captivated. A collection of military earth tones, headwear, leather footing, vintage army coats, and combat props are introduced to the audience. Then, the second collection of silhouette models: elegant dresses, corsets, lace, and tan fabrics. Cameras filled the stage with lightning.

At this gathering, fashion is not only unique, but it is genuine. Steampunk fashion circulates around the idea of organic construction and handmade design.

MySteampunkArmy — the brainchild of Tommy Roberson and Varla Skye — also attended the event. They arrived with their team of Steampunk models.

Roberson and Skye form a dynamic duo; Roberson institutes his talents of photography, wardrobe design, and prop constructions; Skye implements design and styling that perform as strong components for MySteampunkArmy models.

Copper constructed weapons were edgy props of various Steampunk Army models. Innovated fictional fantasy arm cannons, double-barrel steam-powered machine guns, and a trident staff were used to complete the Steampunk Army ensembles. Getting into character—being your character—and having fun guides the modeling experience. Even down to the make-up, detail dominates.

“I think a big thing is that you have to extenuate all the details you have, you know it's not just that you are selling a dress or your selling a hat, its every item on your body,” said MySteampunk Army model Rebecca Mullins.

This “alternative world” allows models to experience a type of modeling that has a fashionable image and demands a character of attitude and spunk.

Ticking clock watches note the night’s passing hours, pirouetting to tunes on the record player, and sharing laughs caps off the Chicago Steampunk gathering. Attending the next event may be a train worth traveling if you like worlds of tinkering gadgets, vintage clothes, and a welcoming social scene. 

Backstage. Tamarah Webb with MySteampunk Army models.

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