Now that the industry is digging up history at an alarming rate—1962? Check. 1977? Check. 1991? We’re working on it—it was only a matter of time before we lapsed into full-blown Renaissance Fair mode.
In fact, that moment may already be here.
The New York Times style section has just devoted a full 1500 words to steampunk, beginning what trend-watchers call the “lame” period of the trend. The article name-checks Alexander McQueen and Nicolas Ghesquiere of Balenciaga as potential fashionista surrogates of the style, but until we see them bust out the top hats, we’ll be skeptical.
Steampunk, if you’re not already familiar, is a rising subculture based around Victorian (i.e. steam-powered) technology. The aesthetic is mostly brushed brass and varnished wood for the devices, and three-piece suits and top hats for clothing. Originally a subgenre of sci-fi, an early example is William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s *The Difference Engine* from 1990, but more recent examples include Alan Moore’s graphic novel *The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen* or the film *The Prestige*.
Maybe it was still too hot for them.
- — Russell Brandom