by MIKE CHAIKEN
Steampunk is often described as what would happen if the future happened in the 19th century.
The style of Steampunk often offers a mash-up of Victorian England and a steam-driven science fiction.
Movies such as “The Wild Wild West” with Kevin Kline and Will Smith and television shows such as the Matt Smith-era “Doctor Who” have either inspired or drawn from the Steampunk universe.
On Jan. 20 and 21, Bristol once again will play host to the Brass Ring Academy and Cabaret at the New England Carousel Museum.
In earlier years, local and regional Steampunk-inspired fashion designers had organized runway shows featuring their gear. But this year, the guests, dressed in all of their Steampunk regalia, are invited to walk the runway for their fellow aficionados. (And some of the designers vending also will contribute to the event.)
Many fans of Steampunk will craft their outfits to reflect a character they have created for themselves.
“Since it’s at heart a literary genre, many people use their clothing to tell a story,” explained Lauren Grover, the organizer for the Brass Ring Academy and Cabaret. “For example, someone who was born in England but moved to India might have a gown in English style but made out of saree fabric. Some people go all out with a storyline and props and gadgets and brass cybernetics and all sorts of wonderful things.”
“On the other hand,” said Grover, “some people make clothing out of a Steampunk version of a pop culture character. I’ve seen lots of Steampunk versions of various DC Superheroes, Egyptian gods, and Star Trek away teams.”
“And then we have people who come in incredibly authentic Victorian clothing that could walk down the street in 1853 and nobody would give a second glance,” said Grover.
“I love the variety we embrace,” said Grover.
Grover said you don’t have to dress up to attend the Brass Ring Academy and Cabaret.
However, Grover said, “If you do want to dress up, remember that the base of Steampunk is the Victorian time period.”
“Luckily,” she said, “a lot of the men’s clothing from that time period is similar to today’s office or formal wear. Simply wearing suspenders over a white button-down shirt and dark pants will get you into the feel of things.”
“For women,” Grover said, “the most common base combination is a corset and skirts. Adding a fancy hat can easily take a modern outfit up a notch.”
“While many people use a lot of brown and brass in their Steampunk outfits, actual Victorians were the people that invented modern dyes, so the more colors, and the more garish the colors you wore, the better,” said Grover.
“Also, you are in no way limited to European clothing,” said Grover. “The American Civil War, the Gold Rush, and the whole concept of the Wild, Wild West (and the movie, “The Wild, Wild West”) are all terrific inspirations.”
And if you can’t find anything in your closet, the Brass Ring Academy and Cabaret has a slew of vendors.
“You can walk in and get outfitted from head to toe. Corsets, clothing, hats, jewelry, brass goggles and other gadgetry will be there aplenty, and at many different price points,” said Grover.
“Many of our vendors also take orders, so if you want something you don’t see, please ask,” said Grover.
“It’s a great way to support small businesses,” she said.
Brass Ring Academy and Cabaret will be held Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 20 and 21 at the New England Carousel Museum, 95 Riverside Ave., Bristol.
The Academy is Saturday, Jan. 20 from10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and is all ages.
The Cabaret is Saturday, Jan. 20 from 7 to 11:30 p.m., and is 18-plus.
The Workshop is Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and is all ages.
Admission to Saturday’s and Sunday’s Academy for one day only is $21 ($16 for ages 11 to 16) and . The Cabaret is $21. For more information, visit www.brassringct.com.