Steampunk! According to the NYT's Thursgay Styles, it's a "subculture that is the aesthetic expression of a time-traveling fantasy world, one that embraces music, film, design and now fashion, all inspired by the extravagantly inventive age of dirigibles and steam locomotives." They describe steampunkers as fusspots with a taste for gaslight-era style: "he owns a flat-screen television, but he has modified it with a burlap frame. He uses an iPhone, but it is encased in burnished brass." But steampunk's been around for a while, of course. Despite the length of the piece, glossed over is the fact that this hot new movement started with a book called the Difference Engine—in 1990!

Steampunk isn't completely about clothes and accessories; it's an offshoot of the science fiction genre cyberpunk. Author of cyberpunk novel Neuromancer William Gibson (coiner of the word "cyberspace") collaborated with Bruce Sterling for the classic steampunk alternate history novel The Difference Engine, set in Victorian Britain. Just saying!

Anyway, it must be reaching a critical mass: the recent 24th Chaos Communications Congress, a hacker event, had steampunk as the theme for their ball. And a steampunk store? Open soon in Manhattan. You'll be able to finally buy a brass case for your iPhone.

I just realized: our new offices are totally steampunk—check out the vintage reception desk!

Steampunk Moves Between Two Worlds [NYT]

[Photo: Kit by Nadya Lev Photo]