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The Curious Journey of Steampunk

February 11th, 2013 No comments

Steampunk: the science fiction subgenre which jumped time and cultural lines to become a hot trend.

The word “steampunk” was coined by American science fiction writer K W Jeter in 1987, but as a genre, steampunk started happening  in the 1800s, when writers imagine their own era with futuristic technology. The novel  20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne is a quintessential example of the genre that spawned the aesthetic and the trend we see today. Many of the elements that combine to make “steampunk” have been around for some time independently– such as embracing steam technology and machines, fascination with the natural world, and a dapper and fashionable way of dressing, the idea of making things onesself by hand. Now they have combined into a modern voyage to a glamourised Victorian/Edwardian past with a distinctly futuristic twist.

There are steampunk games like Bioshock II, steampunk graphic novels –League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for one, and even steampunk movies such as the recent Sherlock Holmes.

“To me, it’s essentially the intersection of technology and romance.” – Jake von Slatt

The steampunk aesthetic is firmly rooted in the British Victorian and Edwardian periods, which ran from 1837 to 1901, and 1901 to 1910 respectively. There was a cultural transition during this time away from rational ideals toward romanticism with regard to social values, arts, and religion. One key development during this time was that trains became ubiquitous and they became a huge factor in ordering society, with ‘railway time’  becoming the standard by which clocks were set throughout Britain. In the modern steampunk movement, clocks are a widespread motif, decorating anything from boats to hats. Clock gears and mechanisms are parsed out to decorate glasses, jewellry, and even shoes.

The Victorians were impressed by science and progress, and felt that they could improve society in the same way as they were improving technology. Science and industrialisation were seen as hopeful pursuits that would bring a golden future to mankind, rather than the threatening or ominous ways they are portrayed in modern media. During the Victorian era, science rapidly grew into the discipline it is today. Continental Europeans such as Max Planck and Albert Einstein were beginning to produce some of their great works during this period. In addition to the increasing professionalism of university science, Victorian gentlemen devoted their time to the study of natural history. This study of natural history was most powerfully advanced by Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution first published in his book On the Origin of Species in 1859. The details of flora and fauna that pervade the steampunk aesthetic reflect this part of history.

The steampunk movement  has a philosophical angle, which is a combination between the maker ideals of creativity and self-reliance and the Victorian optimistic view of the future. Some say that steampunk includes a fair amount of empire worship, or that steampunk focuses on the best of the past and quietly sweeps the bad under the rug, such as overpopulation, pollution, child labour, etc.

“It’s sort of Victorian-industrial, but with more whimsy and fewer orphans.” – Caitlin Kittredge

Perhaps steampunk provides a fantasy that we need to counteract modern life?

Yet steampunk has become a lot more. With so many cool contraptions and fanciful inventions in stories, it was a natural progression that some people would decide to make some of them, or at least things like them. Thus, steampunk gadgets came into the real world. People have “steampunk’d” everything from computers, desks, telephones, and guitars to cars, motorcycles, and entire homes. These objects can vary from a dirty and distressed look of a forgotten antique to the shiny overwrought newness of a Victorian gentleman’s club. Think brass and copper, glass and polished wood, engraving and etching, and details for the sake of details.

Let’s talk about the clothes.

Steampunk fashions are not literally and completely Victorian, because they add in technological bits, sometimes futuristic and modern materials, and hints of a more adventurous life than a typical citizen of that period likely enjoyed. Not everyone had a hot air balloon and travelled the countryside, but in the modern fantasies, you can be all that and more!

Steampunk fashion provides an opportunity for men to dress more flamboyantly and elegantly than they have generally been allowed to since the early 20th Century. Women are allowed to forget about modern androgyny if they wish and dress in a more womanly and female-distinct way (yet not be subject to the social restrictions and discomforts that women in the Victorian era experienced– corsets are even more comfortable nowadays). True steampunks often invent a persona along with a costume, and pay attention to every detail top-to-toe.

This niche genre, design sense, philosophy and costume-play that we call steampunk has gradually crept into the mainstream, so even if you are not “totally steampunked”, you might find yourself embracing parts of this quirky movement and style.

The mid 2000′s saw a rise of steampunk in the mainstream with the movies “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” and  “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, and this corresponded with darker and more Victorian/Gothic looks coming down the runways, especially at Alexander McQueen.

The Olympics and Para Olympics entertainments contributed to the trend, and in 2012 Steampunk hit the catwalks, especially seen in the Prada men’s collections. We expect 2013 and 2014 to yield even more of this influence in the high street shops as well as with the high fashion designers.

FOOTWEAR!

Men’s steampunk footwear includes biker boots, military style lace up boots, and gentlemanly brogues and pointed dress shoes. A creative way for men to “steampunk” their shoes is the use of spats.

Spats, a contraction of spatterdashes, are a type of classic footwear accessory for outdoor wear, covering the instep and the ankle, and fastening with a row of buttons. These were used as much for fashion as they were to protect shoes. One could easily sew a pair to “Vicky” their modern shoes.

Most steampunk favors metal hardware made of brass or copper rather than chrome or steel, but it can come down to personal preference rather than historical accuracy. The more hardware, the better!

Browse our modern steampunk inspired shoe collection

Steampunk Shoe Collection

For women, there are many choices from the traditional victorian kitten heeled shoes or ankle boots, to chunky Mad Max type boots. Modern steampunk can contain a great deal of  “punk” as well as dainty styles, so don’t be afraid to finish your outfit with a pair of steel-toed biker boots or lace-up Over the knee boots.

We have put together a wee steampunk collection for your enjoyment from our catalogue of styles. It contains shoes, boots, sandals, and beribboned fancies, so that when you’re looking for something to go with your miniature top hat, your ruffled blouse, your catsuit and corset, your dandy 3-piece suit, or your Amelia Earhart shirt and trousers, you can find the perfect thing to compliment right in our collection.

 

 

 

UGG boots supporting breast cancer awareness week

October 23rd, 2012 No comments

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and this year UGG Australia has a great offering to support this worthy cause. The UGG Classic Short Breast Cancer Limited Edition style brings you classic UGG comfort and quality. This casual calf-height classic is lined with plush sheepskin fur to keep your feet at the perfect temperature. The sheepskin outer is saturated with gorgeous colour and comes in either rich chestnut or rose raspberry. At the heel next to the fabric UGG logo tag you will find an embriodered pink ribbon, signature of the Breast Cancer Awareness movement. This boot is a wonderful product that will suit women ranging from fashion industry pros to country gals.

Best of all, you’re really doing good with the purchase of this limited edition UGG. Ten percent of the purchase price will be given to The Haven Breast Cancer Support Centres. The Haven is a therapy charity, who administers support and services directly to the women who endure this disease. They offer therapies for both the physical and emotional effects that fighting breast cancer creates, which are provided in a supportive environment with skilled nurses and practitioners. Your purchase will help these women to adjust, to fight, to live.

UGG boots supporting breast cancer awareness week

Pick up this gorgeous style and perform an act of caring at the same time. They are available for a very limited time only from the official UGG Australia site, so click the image above to get your pair.

Shopping Malls Designed to Make You Buy More

August 5th, 2011 No comments

Australian programme Hungry Beast gives a three-minute lesson on how shopping malls are designed architecturally to manipulate shoppers’ behaviour. In short, they are designed to make you buy more than what you were intending. There have been several exposés on consumption-encouraging tricks that individual retailers use; this clip illustrates those occurring on a grander level in the structure and surrounding area.

Just one reason we prefer to shop online! ;)

Chanel Graphite Nail Polish for A/W 2011

June 16th, 2011 Comments off

Chanel debuts their seasonal nail lacquer colours on the runway, and this year didn’t disappoint. New for autumn is GRAPHITE…a shimmery metallic shade that is gunmetal silver base, yet has a magical hint of olive green mixed in. The greenish hue gives it more life against the skin that most metallics don’t possess.

Chanel-Graphite-nail-polish-2

Chanel polishes can sell out, so we are marking our calendars for when Graphite arrives at Chanel counters in July. Yes, it is supposedly for autumn, but we are obsessed with it now, for summer. YES FOR SUMMER.
With a light tan, Graphite will be the perfect colour for a unique take on casual chic, worn with Havaianas, for example:

havaianas flip flop

And graphite is perfectly delicious with more sophisticated looks, like with these Ash stiletto sandals.

ash heidi stiletto

Simply brilliant on every level.

chanelcafe3
Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colours in Graphite, Peridot, and Quartz.

Vivienne Westwood Melissa Zen Girl – Review

June 15th, 2011 No comments

Vivienne Westwood’s collaboration with Melissa “Mel” Shoes of Brazil is nothing short of revolutionary. Vegans rejoice that there are fun and fabulous shoes for them to wear, and the idea of “jellies” has been taken to a new level. Stella McCartney made a name for herself by never using animal products in her shoes, and up until this time, she was almost the only one in the world of high fashion. Now Vivienne Westwood enters that arena with her coquettish designs with Melissa.

I have two friends with the Vivienne Westwood “Lady Dragon Cherries Heel” who love them. I have another friend who just ordered the “Blue Glitter Wrap Three Strap Heel” because of its dreamy colour. Myself, I have admired all the styles for some time, but when I set eyes on the Vivienne Westwood ZEN GIRL FLAT in Gold, I knew in my bones that I had to have it. As a chestnut haired person with the palest skin tone, the rich gold colour and mixed metal studs were what would make my Nicola Roberts colouring look gorgeous.

Anglomania-womens-Zen-Girl-Gold-Shoes-5

Now that I have the Zen girl shoes, all these musings have come true. I get at least one compliment if not a whole conversation around how cool my shoes are every time I leave the house. They make me feel like a rock star no matter what. Maybe it is because they are Vivienne Westwood and a everyone wants a little piece of the grand dame of punk style? But there is really nothing quite like this shoe, with its giant studded heart and the almond shaped toe. Whether your style is elegant, rockabilly, or anything in between, the Zen Girl flat exhibits both charm and edginess.

melissa-zen-heart

These beauties also come in blackest black and metallic silver, both of which have the studded heart detail.

Made with “Mel-flex”, Melissa Shoes’ special secret PVC material which is durable and flexible. Melflex is also hypo-allergenic, cruelty-free, void of animal products, and recyclable.

SPECIAL NOTE: Do not buy these shoes for an occasion in the same week.
When I first got my Zen Girl flats and slipped them on, they felt tight. I am exactly a size 5 and so I thought maybe I should have done something different? But no, they fit…just snug.
The first time I wore them for any amount of time, I was chafed on my outer right foot. The next time I wore them it was fine, but then my left. There is a process as the shoes stretch and “learn” your feet. But! It is worth it. The fit is perfect now.

They say that she shoes have the scent of bubble gum. It is a lie. They smell like jasmine.

CONCLUSION: Vivienne Westwood Melissa shoes are not cheap but they are worth it, in my humble opinion.

-Miss H

Puma addresses environmental impact

May 18th, 2011 No comments

Puma has become the world’s first major corporation to publish details of the cost of its impact on the environment.

Speaking at the launch of the company’s environmental profit and loss accounts (EPnL) in London two days ago, chief executive Jochen Zeitz said reducing Puma’s environmental impact would improve its future performance.

Jochen-Zeitz-Puma-CEO
Jochen Zeitz, Puma CEO. Photograph: Timm Schamberger/AFP/Getty Images

“Sustainability is essential to the health and future of our business,” he said. “The business implications of failing to address nature in decision making are clear – since ecosystem services are vital to the performance of most companies, integrating the true cost for these services in the future could have significant impacts on corporate bottom lines.”

It seems Puma is changing the face of corporate discussion. Even the term “ecosystem services” sounds new. For years environmentalists have been frustrated by the demands of policymakers to put a value or worth on the environment. Perhaps corporate involvement will help; putting a price tag on nature seems to be the best way to save it.

Charges of hypocrisy have been levelled at Puma over its sponsorship of Formula 1 and Moto GP. Mr Zeitz responded by saying Puma is encouraging participants and partners in these sports to embrace the sustainable agenda. Personally, I think the issue of the environment is one so large; people tend to be overwhelmed when addressing it. When one change is made, then immediately 200 other things that should also be done to reduce one’s footprint come to the fore. However, I’m of the mind that one needs to take one step, then two steps, and not quibble righteously about hypocrisy each time an improvement is made. We don’t live in a perfect world, but that does not mean we cannot improve things.

Puma's new shoe packaging
Last year Puma changed their shoe packaging. They project that the change will save 8,500 tonnes of paper, and mean a reduction of 60% in water and energy used during the production process.

Because of their concern for the environment, many consumers want to know how products are being produced. We vote with our money, that is our power, our prerogative. Our concern has much to do with a corporation such as Puma stepping forward to fight for environmental sustainability.

When I was writing about my plastic shoes last week, I wanted to explore the environmental angle. Obviously, cows are high on the food chain, so it takes more resources to mass produce leather. However, I have no idea whether PVC shoes are made responsibly, with limited levels of pollution, humane factories, etc. There is truly a limited amount of information offered on how objects are manufactured. Companies have no incentive to offer this information. I applaud Puma for taking this first step. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if products like shoes had a label on the side of the box with an overview of how responsibly they were made? Like nutrition labels on prepackaged food!

I saw that Mr Zeitz was quizzed on the news about the cost of football kits changing every season, and the costs of fashion and consumerism in general. These are great questions. I am not sure that Puma can provide all the answers, though. Despite their responsible stance on environmentalism, they still need to be competitive with regard to trends. I believe that question is up to us, the consumers. Our discernment is what ultimately drives the market, and change.

-Miss H

What’s Wrong With Plastic Shoes?

May 13th, 2011 No comments

As I slipped on my red Crocs Olivia flats with my jeggings to go to the cafe and write**, I found myself defiantly thinking “Why are my friends always giving me backchat for wearing Crocs? What is wrong with plastic shoes??

Crocs Olivia Flats
Crocs Olivia

Maybe if Crocs hadn’t started with the clunky marshmallowy beach Crocs that went from new to ubiquitous instantly — maybe if that wasn’t our collective image of Crocs, it be acceptable for me to love my plastic flats and still be considered ‘fashion-forward’?

Maybe it all started deep in the 1980s with jellies. Jelly shoes were everywhere, and they were so cool. I will not apologise for liking them, nor for having both a royal blue and a translucent neon orange pair.
:)

Furthermore, I look cute in my coloured flats. Don’t argue with me. I am sure. I stand by my plastic shoe choices! (but this cute photo is not actually me)

Crocs Olivia
Crocs Olivia photo courtesy of Anakristina @ Chictopia

Perhaps the judgement against plastic shoes is simply elitism….because my plastic shoes cost so much less than leather flats. I have news: they are far far more comfortable than most ballerina flats. I have a [high end brand that shall remain nameless] pair of flats and they are wickedly uncomfortable. I keep them because they are adorable and black patent leather and I paid a great deal for them. However, I have high heels more comfortable than they are.

For me, there is nothing better than wearing cushiony feather light flat shoes on the day after you trotted yourself out in high heels until well past bedtime.

And unlike jellies of the 80’s, we have this little thing called “technology”? Crocs and Melissa shoes both have antimicrobial properties. In other words, they won’t get smelly, even if your feet perspire a bit.

I am looking forward to getting a pair of either Crocs Carlie Flats, or for an even more ‘jellies’ look, the Crocs Adrina flat. Their frosty transclucent finish is just lovely, and yes they look like candy, but I also find them quite chic.

Crocs Adrina Flats
Crocs Adrina Flat

Go ahead and tell me what you think, but as a well-heeled modern woman, I am still going to argue for Crocs days in and among Louboutin days. Defiantly.

Yours truly,
Miss H

**Footnote: I realise there are many things wrong with beginning post with Crocs + Jeggings in a sentence, but in my defence I thought I was buying SKINNY JEANS and just plucked them off the rack without trying on. Lo, they are definitely skin tight JEGGINGS, but are rather comfortable and no one has run screaming from the room at the sight of me, so I find myself wearing them. And yes, wearing them with Crocs.

Stay tuned: I will be reviewing my Vivienne Westwood Melissa Zen Girl Flats in my next post. More plastic shoes!
vivienne westwood anglomania melissa shoes

Reign of 90s Fashion Trends

May 12th, 2011 No comments

Fashion relies on recycling for ideas and lately it seems everything is coming up 90s. Grunge has had its current moment by way of models who dress like lumberjacks off-duty (this means you, Aggy Deyn). Now the latest surge of 90s swag has more in common with the laid back & casual looks we saw in the hip hop scene and on stars of the era.

helena bonham carter T
A very young Helena Bonham Carter

Nineties fashion included the rise of Jean Paul Gaultier and Lagerfeld for Chanel, but its real spirit was pioneered in the street. Vintage floral dresses, Marithé François Girbaud baggy jeans, long necklaces, men’s t-shirts on everyone, short cutoffs, motorcycle jackets, long flowy skirts, and of course big proletariat boots like Dr Martens or Timberlands truly defined the 1990s.

Now, after the rise of the plaid shirt as a wardrobe staple, the reinvention of grunge as a harder and edgier style (think Balmain), and the laid-back vibe of Alexander Wang or Henry Holland with their popular T lines, street style has embraced a funkier, brighter spin on the decade.

90s style all the shoes uk 2011 90s Style – photo from Irish Times

Dreadlocks mixed with long, knit dresses and combat boots are style staples of late, while the resurgence of neon brights, stripes, polka dots, and hats hats HATS proves that fashion is having one more go at the inspirational decade. Even beauty trends are leaning towards undone hair, darker lips, and matte faces…just like when Christy, Linda and Naomi ruled the runways.

To further my point, I present this video from Sade. I had forgotten it until recently and lo and behold, Sade’s dress is reminiscent of a certain Kate Middleton’s wedding frock!

WELCOME back 90s! In all your white laced, hatted, and chunky-soled glory!

Timberland Boots for Women: Who/What/Where/When?

May 2nd, 2011 3 comments

I was recently offered a free pair of Timberland Boots. I can order them online in any colour and they’re customisable. Of course my initial thought was “FANTASTIC! NEW SHOES FOR ME”, but now I am wondering if I can really pull off Timberland boots, as a girl.

The boot in question, classic Timberland:
Timberland Womens Boot

Not that Timberland isn’t a top quality brand. That isn’t in question in my mind at all. They’re one of the best. This is a style question.

Can I pull off this look?
Will I wear them often?
Where?
What will they look good with?

Please help me with this dilemma. Take it to the comments, or I’ve created a fast and easy poll so you can advise me.

FitFlop Hooper Sandals Review

April 15th, 2011 No comments

FitFlop Hooper sandals combine casual style with serious technology to tone and tighten your leg muscles. While you are walking places, looking cute in your FitFlop Hooper Sandals, they are reducing shock to your joints whilst increasing leg and bottom muscle activity.

FitFlop Hooper Sandals
FitFlop Hooper


FitFlop Hooper features a circular side buckle with a hidden adjustable velcro strap for a fantastic fit. This is one of the only toe post sandals we’ve seen that is adjustable, and certainly the only FitFlop flip flop that is adjustable! The flexible fitting makes the Hooper a great shoe for those with narrow feet, wide feet, or high arches – it provides a good fit to all. And the Hooper sandal has a nonfussy boho charm that will compliment jeans, maxi dresses, and casual summer outfits.

Available in gorgeous neutrals Buff (a pale taupe), Black, or caramel-luscious Tan, Hooper will become your go-to sandal for the summer. Slip on your FitFlops and slip into your bikini body with toning FitFlop Hooper Sandals!

  • Smooth high quality leather or suede uppers
  • Oversized buckle for fashion look
  • Soft microfibre interior lining feels amazingly soft against bare feet
  • Microwobbleboard™midsole technology to improve posture, reduce foot pain and pressure
  • Work your bottom and leg muscles every single time you take a step
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