Steampunk is a fictional retrospective, futuristic design style that exists in movies, role-playing games and books more than it does, or ever did, in reality. But the image of anarchic inventors in a steam-powered automobile with precision ocular devices is too good to just ignore.
“Clockwork Butterfly” described itself as a “steampunk extravaganza” combining musical hall vaudeville, burlesque and a fashion show. Miss Ixia, the mistress of ceremonies and graphic designer, had the extensive lexicological vocabulary of the musical hall. The acts were enjoyable especially the illusions and prestidigitations of Madotti and Vega, Missy’s pole dancing, Antonia belly dancing, and Sarina Del Fuego’s “time in motion” burlesque act was the perfect end for a clockwork butterfly.
Interspacing the acts were parades of fashion. The clothes started with daywear and beachwear (something that you would never see at a goth fashion show) and moved on into eveningwear. Alex Chambers, assisted by Courtney Webber, designed all the clothes including the costumes of the performers, which give the spectacle consistency. The models showed great personality and professionalism. The whole show was a bit like I imagine an Alexander McQueen fashion show would have been like, a beautiful, visual circus of theatrical clothes.
The venue of the Thornbury Theatre provided an excellent backdrop to the “Clockwork Butterfly” with its arched ceiling complete with chandelier and gilded Victorian plasterwork.
Steampunk, for Alex Chambers, is like a neo-Victorian version of goth fashion with a different colour palette and different accessories. Toffee, caramel and umber replace the black, emerald green and ruby of the goth palette. Goggles, parasols and top hats replace the gauntlets, chains and studs of the goth world. Brass replaces chrome steel. And button-up boots with Louis heels replace platform boots. Cotton, linen and leather replace PVC.
The fantasy of steampunk style in constructing a futuristic Victorian era is informed by the time lags in history where people can live in the past, the present or the future. And every era creates its versions of the past, present and future.