SKIN IN THE GAME
How mainstream is the Steampunk look? Mainstream enough to be stamped on flimsy plastic and rolled out in volume for iPod owners who want a cheap, skin-deep adornment for their MP3 players like the Gelaskin product at left. While hard-core Steampunk modders and deeply invested Neo-Victorian scenesters scoff at such commercialization of their hard-won aesthetic, they can't fault the original art on this iPod skin by London-born, Australia-based author and illustrator Colin Thompson.
But what does it mean when superficial Steampunk like Thompson's iPod skins become just another emblem of faux individuality, like the Ralph Steadman "Dr. Gonzo" iPhone skins they share a berth with in the Gelaskins stable? Is it just a harmful diluting of the Neo-Victorian sub-culture, or does it simply reflect the fact that Steampunk has truly arrived?
"As a long time subscriber to Vogue Magazine -- seriously -- I would say that the world of fashion always is seeking something new and unique," says Ann VanderMeer. "The punk movement of the late 70's moved into the mainstream culture. So did the grunge movement, although I never found that one to be particularly appealing. People will gravitate to what they find attractive, to what they see as beautiful regardless of where it originates."