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Deborah Lindquist: The Fashion of a Fantastical Future: Steampunk

01/12/2014 11:53 am ET | Updated Mar 14, 2014

At the dawn of this new year, we may feel that we are at a tipping point. The past year is just behind us, and the future is still being designed in our imagination. Maybe we want to re-write history a bit, letting go of some past memories, pull up roots, change our lifestyle. Anything is possible in our imagination, but what will we wear on our journey into the fantastical future of our dreams?

The idea of creating a futuristic alternative history is what steampunk is all about. Old-fashioned steam power plays an important role. Victorian life and silhouettes, the Wild Wild West, exploration of new worlds, technology and fantasy is all wrapped up in a fashionable hybrid of past and future.  Although steampunk "fashion" may be thought of as costume, there are elements that are wearable from day into evening.

Bustiers and Corsets:
While corsets as an underpinning gave the Victorian woman an otherwise impossible to achieve silhouette, bustiers today are sexy, wearable, and considerably more comfortable. From a middle corset to nip in the waist, a short cropped embellished bralette, or a full corset, all are designed to display and enhance your feminine assets. This vintage beaded wool and hemp/silk peplum bustier dress worn with tough-girl moto boots is both feminine and edgy. Just what the neo-Victorian steampunk girl needs to get through her day.

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Photo by Chika Okazumi.

Ruffles:
Wide ruffled sleeves, face-framing ruffled necks, and skirts with a cascade of ruffles are mainstays of steampunk. Although ruffles can be thought of as romantic and demure, they are also dramatic and fun to wear. Try wearing a high necked capelet such as this ruffled reincarnated cashmere version over a bustier or simple, fitted top. The capelet keeps your shoulders warm while adding a bit of Victorian charm to your look. Add a vintage or handcrafted vintage-inspired pin to accessorize the neck.

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Photo by Anjani Lynn White.

Futuristic Details:
Steampunk is a hybrid of past, future, and fantasy. Handcrafted, time-travel inspired accessories are prevalent. Discarded materials such as old watch parts, skeleton keys, and leftover bits of metal are translated into accessories, incorporated as hydraulic sci-fi body parts, and used on heels of shoes. This recycled cassette tape fabric middle corset with vintage leather appliques is many things: Upcycled, eco, and high-tech fantasy. Called sonic fabric, the fabric itself it actually plays sound, believe it or not . . . the perfect fantasy blend of past and future. Wear it with a simple button down shirt and a mixed media handcrafted pin at the neck.

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Photo by Anjani Lynn White.

And no steampunk look would be complete without goggles for the exploration of new worlds. Perhaps a monocle, to keep one eye on the present and one on the future. Happy New Year everyone. May your future be fashionable and historical!

As one of America's most sought after environmentally conscious designers, Deborah Lindquist creates exquisite apparel out of a mix of "reincarnated" and new Earth-friendly fabrics, such as cashmere, hemp and bamboo. Lindquist's avant-garde apparel has been showcased in numerous publications including Elle, In Style, Lucky, WWD, Vibe, People, Brides and Maxim. You can also catch her one-of-a-kind pieces during episodes of Lifetime's How to Look Good Naked and Access Hollywood's Hollywood Green. She has dressed trendsetters such as Rihanna, Pink, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Paris Hilton, Keisha Cole and Jessica Alba. Check out her press page and blog to learn more about Deborah.