Cowboys & Steampunkers

Inspired by the Victorian era of buttoned-up gentility and amazing new mechanical inventions, Steampunk designers seek to rekindle a sense of awe and romance in an otherwise sterile and detached digital world.

That’s a goal and a fashion sense also found in the Western lifestyle.
These Steampunk designers, a New York Times article states, “assemble their own fashions, an adventurous pastiche of neo-Victorian, Edwardian and military style accented with sometimes crudely mechanized accouterments like brass goggles and wings made from pulleys, harnesses and clockwork pendants, to say nothing of the odd ray gun dangling at the hip. Steampunk style is corseted, built on a scaffolding of bustles, crinolines and parasols and high-arced sleeves not unlike those favored by the movement’s designer idols: Nicolas Ghesquiere of Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and, yes, even Ralph Lauren.”
The cowboy lifestyle that Steampunk pays homage to can be epitomized by Capt. James West, a brash wise-cracking federal agent in 1869 who is as quick with his fists as he is with the Colt 1860 Army .44 strapped to his hip, as Will Smith depicts him in 1999’s Wild Wild West. West’s partner-in-crimefighting, the foppish and snarky Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline), is more aligned with today’s Steampunk culture. A U.S. marshal with a disdain for guns and a fondness for gadgets, Gordon carries only a Colt Theur Derringer secreted in a spring-loaded belt buckle or on an elaborate contraption up the sleeve of the frilly shirts he likes to wear.
The chafing relationship between West and Gordon in the movie may no longer separate cowboys from technocentrics today. Many Westerners can appreciate the desire of Steampunkers to fashion modern technology to fit Victorian sensibilities. After all, cowboys and Steampunkers both yearn for simpler and more wondrous and gentler times.

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