Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Steampunk Tuesday - A most successful gala!!

Last Friday was the book launch for THE FRIDAY SOCIETY.

Or rather THE FRIDAY SOCIETY gala!!

It was held at The Gladstone Hotel here in Toronto, and organised by yours truly - and IT WAS SO TOTALLY AWESOME.

We had displays of steampunk props and inventions by Messrs Smith and Bodine.  We had a demonstration of Bartitsu (with EW Barton Wright himself explaining the technique).  We premiered the trailer.  And of course I read.

People came in costume.  People posed in the photo area with awesome props.  People ate cake.  Oh yes.  I let them eat cake.  Not just one cake but FOUR CAKES.

How did it all come to be?  Well first of all I had insane amazing help from Chris Reed at Small Print Toronto and Adam Smith with Steampunk Canada.  And of course the amazing support from the staff at The Gladstone.

Second of all I had awesome help from my parents.  They drove me to the hotel at 4:30pm that afternoon, and my mom and I (along with some very helpful folks from The Gladstone) helped set up the room in a way that I thought worked best (yes we moved couches across the room, and then back again when I changed my mind).

Then the hotel technician came by to see what I wanted tech wise and he was just fantastic: highlighting certain areas of the room with light, and making sure the reading/trailer screening/fight demo ran smoothly.

Adam (along with adi, a fellow Adrienne and one of the organisers of the Ad Astra convention) showed up at 5pm, and set up a table where he could show off his amazing Steampunk props.  They also helped me set up the stage area which was where the photo area was.  I always get annoyed that stages take up so much space and are underused at events like this.  They are used for the reading and then there's this big empty space.  So I decided to set up one end to be a photo area.  The room has amazing exposed brick walls and lovely deep red curtains over the windows so it worked really well.  Prop a Penny Farthing (one of those oldy-timey bikes with the one giant wheel and one little one) against the wall and you're good to go! Adam helped set up a table of Steampunk props that people could pose with.  And let me tell you, it went over gangbusters.  People loved it.  And the stage was well used over the course of the evening. :)

Then Mr. Bodine (his character name) showed, and set up another table with his fantastic Steampunk devices.

The fight team who were doing the demonstration came a little early to run through the fight on the stage.  And then helped put up some twinkle lights.  Because twinkle lights make everything awesome.

And of course Chris Szego and her team from Bakka Phoenix Books were there by then to set up the books (they also very kindly helped sell some of my friend Katie's jewelry - I've shown you some of her work before).

And then people arrived and everything went beautifully (I was seriously stunned by this, usually something goes wrong. . . but no!  So crazy!).  People took pictures on the stage, they loved the trailer and the Bartitsu demonstration (and were rather fond of the reading if I do say so myself :) ).  And OMG, the costumes!  People really outdid themselves.

It was an amazing evening, full of fun - and it wouldn't have been what it was without all the amazing people who came.  I was so overwhelmed by the support, and I say it all the time, but it's well worth repeating . . . I know the most talented, most generous, and most awesome people on the planet.  Yes.  I am just that lucky.  So thank you, again, all of you.  It meant the world to me to share this evening with you all.

But enough words, the best way to share the evening is through pictures.  Bear with me.  There are a lot of them :) .

Me all oldy-timey.

my books!

some of the crowd (photo credit The Renaissance Paparazzi)

Me again.  In colour this time.

My friends Heather and Tyler and me.  I think we look like a trio of Victorian con artists.  I think that's awesome.

Raven with a wee gun. (photo credit The Renaissance Paparazzi)

(photo credit The Renaissance Paparazzi)

Me signing (in the background you can see Chris Szego from Bakka books). (photo credit The Renaissance Paparazzi)

Steampunk bird (photo credit The Renaissance Paparazzi)

Lisa (photo credit The Renaissance Paparazzi)

Messrs Smith and Bodine setting up (with Raven standing elegantly to the side) (photo credit The Renaissance Paparazzi)

The amazing steampunk confetti I ordered from Whimsey Dimples on etsy. (photo credit The Renaissance Paparazzi)


Lesley Livingston introducing me.  She made me all teary and stuff.

Me reading and being rather theatrical doing so.

The end of the trailer (which you will all get to see very soon!)


L to R: Erick, Nate, Scott

EW Barton Wright himself!

Nice Bartitsu collage courtesy of Heather

Adam's table with his Steampunk props!

A slightly blurry me and Adam.

The four cakes. 

Me signing.

Another angle of me signing.

Four dapper gents (with Mr. Bodine on the far left)


Author J.M. Frey

 Me and my cousin Emma!

Me and Lesley in the fantastic oldy-timey elevator in the lobby of the hotel!

The photo area of the stage.

Mr. Bodine's table of Steampunk inventions!

Mr. Bodine explaining his inventions.

Stephanie and adi


Todd and Dave (and the Penny Farthing)

Priscilla and Tisha

One last shot of the crowd!

Monday, November 26, 2012

So You Want To Dress Steampunk...

...but you don't have the time nor funds to invest in a complex Steampunk ensemble.

Sometimes we have Steampunk events we must attend, but what happens if we don't have any Steampunk outfits to wear?  Or we'd like to go to the event and participate, but we aren't technically a Steampunker?

Well fear not!  For Adrienne is here to help you create your very own Steampunk outfit from what you already own!  Huzzah!

First of all, for those of you who, like me, are visual people, I will reference some films that might help focus your thoughts.  For Edwardian examples think MOULIN ROUGE, MARRY POPPINS (or most any of those Edwardian 60s Disney musials i.e.: CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG), MY FAIR LADY and DOWNTON ABBEY.  I actually find the Edwardian slightly easier for people to emulate using contemporary clothing because it is closer in time period to our own.  But for Victorian examples think OLIVER! (any Dickens adaptation), JANE EYRE (so many adaptations), THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST (any Wilde adaptation - ie: AN IDEAL HUSBAND), THE AGE OF INNOCENCE, TITANIC and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

Second of all, you might notice all my suggestions would also work if you were invited to a neo-Victorian/neo-Edwardian party.  There is nothing particularly Steampunk about the clothing choices.  What makes something steampunk are the accessories.  These are those accessories:

Accessories -

Hats: newsboy hat, bowler, top hat, fedora (actually a hat meant for women invented in the late 1800s), small top/bowler hats for women, fascinators, large wide brimmed hats you'd wear to Ascot or to star in My Fair Lady.

Eyewear: round glasses/sunglasses, goggles - aviator/lab/motorcycle, monocle

Jewelry: anything really, but in particular: cameos, pocketwatches, chains with a solitary pendant, chokers, rings.

Belts.  Belts belts belts belts belts.  Thick ones, thin ones, layer them one on top of the other, over the shoulder for a holster effect.  Leather, of course is preferable.

Canes, sticks, parasols.

Weapons - all oldy-timey and preferably fake because of the whole going out in public thing.  But: swords, old fashioned guns (small and discrete, large and formidable), daggers.

There's an amusing video called "Don't just glue some gears onto it and call it Steampunk" that mocks, well, the obvious.  To which I respond, why the heck not?  If you want to put in a bit of an effort, there is no surer way to Steampunkify your ensemble than gluing some gears onto it.  Here are some inspirational photos.

Now for the clothing part.


I really like using Moulin Rouge as my reference, but if people don't know it, I've also included pics.

The easiest for men is a SUIT.  There is a day suit, usually brown, maybe tweed (think what Henry Higgins wears almost all the time throughout MY FAIR LADY), or there is a tux or evening suit - black, sharply put together complete with a top hat.

If you have a colourful suit jacket you can suddenly become an MC of your very own Burlesque show :) .  Think Zidler.

Or if you happen to have a smoking jacket, replace your suit jacket with that, and add a white cravat (where does one get one of those, well it's easy enough with a scarf, but look around your place and see if you have any random bits of fabric, or if you really feel like it, cut up an old bedsheet) and you've got a lovely outfit to rest in for the evening.  And you'll look like The Duke in the Like A Virgin number.

This was seriously the best pic of his outfit I could find :P

Or add a lab coat and a pair of goggles and suddenly you're a scientist!

But if a full suit is not in the cards, then there are some other Moulin Rouge inspired looks that work:

The Semi-Dressed Man aka the Roxanne Musical Number - dress pants and shoes, a white tank top/under shirt, if you have them, suspenders add a certain je ne sais quoix (and will really highlight your killer Fosse dance moves).  If you want add a waistcoat/vest.  This look works great for men and women.

Literally cap it all off with a bowler hat (cheaply found at any costume shop, as are top hats, mine was eight bucks at Theatrics on Yonge here in Toronto) and you're good to go!


The Artist/Inventor aka The Hills Are Alive scene - dress pants and shoes OR brown corduroy/tweed/dress pants and brown boots/shoes, dress shirt (unbuttoned if no tie), scarf/cravat/undone bow tie, vest/waistcoat, funky glasses, most any kind of oldy-timey looking hat

I'm about to launch into female options, but men I suggest you read it too.  There might be something I list for women that could inspire as well.


It's harder for women to come up with a Steampunk costume with the elements in our wardrobes for one simple reason: corsets.  In that we don't tend to own them.  It is one of the coolest costume elements for women getting into the Steampunk aesthetic, but what does the average woman do?

Well first of all it is perfectly acceptable to cross-dress.  Think Marlene Dietrich.  Any of the male suggestions work for women too (to be fair any female suggestions are perfectly fine for men as well if they want), and since a lot of women own suits now, these outfits might suit better than a corseted ensemble.

However, here are some uniquely female options:

The Professional/Adventurer - even if you don't have a corset, you can still give the illusion you are wearing one beneath your clothes.  With a cropped military/tweed/business jacket, a tight shirt with a thick belt around the waist and a long skirt, you are good to go.  You can even go with a just below knee length skirt if you don't have a long one.  Think a Wild West kind of look.

Courtesy: Clockwork Couture

If you add a white lab coat and a pair of goggles suddenly you're a scientist!

The Fortune Teller - mediums, tarot card readers etc were very popular at that time (and I suppose remain so today).  This can be the easiest for women to dress as because most of us own scarves etc that can be wrapped around the head, the waist, the neck.  Get a flowy skirt, a blouse, lots of bling - long necklaces and bangles, hoop earrings . . . bring a deck of cards with you and you're golden.

As you can see from the pic below, fortune teller can also double as pirate.

The Dressed-Up Lady - if you have a long elegant gown, preferably at least A-line, add a pair of gloves, a belt, an up-do, some period jewelry and ta-da!  A lovely Edwardian lady. 

Titanic is a good inspiration too!

However, if you DO have a corset:

- add a long skirt and a bolero - you are a dressed up lady
- wear it with the gentlemen options above and you've got a female version of all said outfits
or . . .

The Semi-Dressed Woman - again we're talking about the Roxanne number from Moulin Rouge.  Get a white undershirt, or sleeveless blouse, add the corset on top, a pair of frilly boy shorts underwear, thigh highs, garter belt, shoes.  It's a far more risque costume to the male version, but you can actually be pretty covered while wearing it.  Hair up, messy makeup.  You're good to go!

So there you go!  I could go on, as there are so many wonderful options for dressing up, and my list here is by no means the be all and end all.  But I hope it's sparked some ideas, inspired you in some ways. 

However if you want even more inspiration and pics, please visit my other blog post on the Archetypal Steampunk Costumes.

Also if you are in Toronto, here are some excellent stores to check out if you want to spend some cash: Theatrics, Malabars, Kensington Market, Value Village (for Halloween they actually had pre-packaged Steampunk outfits and still might), Goodwill