As our week aboard the H.M.S Chronabelle continues, we stopped to chat with the Grand Duchess, a.k.a. Stephanie Fairbairn. Another devotee of steampunk via its diy roots, the Grand Duchess explores an aesthetic of utility with a particular fondness for pockets. As with the other crew members, the Grand Duchess utilizes fashion as a tangible method to narrate life aboard the H.M.S. Chronabelle and within the larger steampunk realm.
The Steampunk Bible: What is your personal definition of Steampunk?
Grand Duchess: To me, steampunk’s core is the elegent, funky brass machinery. I dress up respectably (or not so respectably) to match the contraptions and to give them a story. I also strongly associate steampunk with respect, optimism, and adventure, but that might just be me.
SPB: How long have you been involved/interested in Steampunk?
GD: About two and a half years, although I admit I’ve fallen a little out of touch recently.
SPB: What differences do you see between now and when you started?
GD:The culture has grown and become more complex. I see larger and more ambitious projects being undertaken which is very exciting.
SPB: How did your crew come together?
GD: We were high school friends with a similar susceptibility to the excitement of dress up and Steampunk. But Lady Almira and Captain Mouse were definitely the driving force that brought us together as a crew.
SPB: What is it about outdated technology – like dirigibles – that appeal to and inspire you?
GD: The DIY aspect of Steampunk is one of the parts that really appeals to me. Old technology, mechanical things, are much more compatible with the urge to get your hands dirty.
SPB: Why did you all decide to “live” on an airship? What does it provide for you that 21st century reality cannot?
GD: Adventure! The mobility and ability to explore is incredibly inviting.
SPB: What is it about the steampunk aesthetic that appeals to you?
GD: It is very elegant, but it also emphasizes the utility of objects. I appreciate the Victorian origins, but steampunk abandons much of the frou-frou, and adds pockets, utility belts, and ray guns. I really just have a soft spot for functional things that are made beautifully.
SPB: Where do you all get your inspiration for your costumes, and can you talk about its influences?
GD: I usually find something that I like that seems either punky or steamy and then build an outfit around it.
SPB: Future of Steampunk fashion? Where do you see it evolving too?
GD: I honestly couldn’t say; fashion is art, so I don’t really know what all the creative minds out there will be coming up with. I do think it will adjust to incorporate some of the current flavors in fashion, just because that is what is easily available -bomber jackets, etc. for example.