Month: February 2014

“Anatomy of Steampunk” Book Review and Decimononic Interview

My latest article as Editrix de Mode for Steampunk Chronicle breaks today. It’s a mostly positive review of Anatomy of Steampunk: The Fashion of Victorian Futurism by Katherine Gleason.

Read “Dissecting Anatomy of Steampunk” here!

Late last year I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the Spanish jewelry collective Decimononic for the last installment of their Steampunk Jewelry Tonight…series. I think it’s a pretty good piece — I worked real hard on my answers! I’m not sure how many people saw it due to the holidays, general disinterest or whatever so if you want to read it now….!

Steampunk Jewelry Tonight…with Gretchen Jacobsen (aka Wilhelmina Frame)

Oh Baby, Quit Stalin!

You might have seen these “Dictator Valentines” floating around recently. I first saw them last year and they came around again this year. The concept of the photo meme was borrowed / stolen from original works by Ben Kling.

Dictatorial Valentine’s Day Cards

But guess I digress because guess what? That Josef Stalin?

Well just start drooling ladies…


panty wetting Josef Stalin!

He could be serving you hipster coffee tomorrow morning! Too bad about all that gulag and oppression business. Maybe it was cause he was only 5’5″ or 5’6″ (according to photographic evidence and Wikipedia).

Seeing the young hot Bolshevik reminded me of my very first historical hottie, Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach. Is that an inkblot on your trousers or are you just happy to analyze me?

Hermann Rorschach is ready to analyze your panties.

If you want to add more images to your vintage spank bank then put on the slow jams and set your phasers on Historical Hotties .

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle-Blanc Sec

I just watched Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010), a film by Luc Bresson based on the comic book series by Jacques Tardi. I really am not sure it ever got an American theatrical release. If it did, it had to have been quite limited. I’ve been meaning to watch it since I found out about it and it seems to have just made it to Netflix.

Les aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec

It’s not the greatest film but it certainly has its moments. Dapper mummies, a cute pterodactyl, a charming heroine played by Louise Bourgoin and awesome Edwardianish costumes.

The film is set in the in 1910s Paris and the costumes are historical enough. Adèle has some awesome gigantic hats and beautiful lace insert blouses. But my favorite costumes are the tennis dresses she and her sister Agathe wear in a flashback scene. Sadly I haven’t found many good scene captures of them but you should be able to get an idea.

It’s definitely not a must see and far from Luc Bresson’s best (I’d probably give that to Léon: The Professional or Nikita) but the film clips a long and isn’t a complete waste of time.

As I type out this post I’m watching Blancanieves (2013), a beautiful black & white silent Spanish film that mixes the tale of Snow White with bullfighting and a little Fellini for good measure. It’s certainly a treat to look at. And also available on Netflix.

What’s Wrong With This Fashion Illustration?

I used this fashion plate as part of my Crinoline Years panel at AnachroCon. Seeing it projected on a large flat scene monitor I noticed something odd, the creeper in the background! Who the heck is lurking behind the bride? And what’s in their hand — a fly swatter? A feather duster? A tiny chimney sweeper? Who thought adding that figure made any sense or was a good idea?

Crazy Victorians!
Bride from April 1844's le moniteur de la mode

Bride from April 1844’s le moniteur de la mode

Happy Birthday Lloyd!

A text from my mom this morning reminded me that today, February 13th, is my Dad’s birthday. I have to admit, I had sort of forgotten it was coming being pre-occupied by the ice storm Atlanta was having. Lloyd Jacobsen (that’s my dad) would have been 74 today, but instead he died at 52 in 1992.

Me and my Dad, Wisconsin Dells, 1991?

Last year I made the upsetting realization that I’d lived longer with my dad dead than alive. Also, I’d finally gotten a record player and I was listening to a lot of his old records. As music  has a tendency to make me rather emotional it was kind of a melancholy winter last year.

Despite the sadness and tears some of those evenings, it was really good to think about Dad and how much of an impact he had on me. I think he would have been really entertained by Steampunk and certainly would have relished the opportunity to bring along his banjo to events where people would have enjoyed his playing. Really I could write a volume on all the influence he had on me and all the quirks of mine that come from him, but I’m not quite prepared for sharing that missive.

At any rate, I just wanted to mark the occasion — it is also the birthday of my favorite punk curmugdeon Henry Rollins. A pretty good day to be born I think.

The Black Ascot of 1910

While working on the notes for my upcoming Mourning panel at AnachroCon, I got distracted by The Black Ascot of 1910. The death of bon vivant King Edward VII was right before Ascot. Normally, the death of The King would have caused Ascot to be cancelled but as King Edward was a keen racefan they decided to run the races anyway — presumably because Eddy would have wanted it that way. While the Royal Box was empty, everyone else turned up in their chicest black & white mourning and the day was on.


Black Ascot 1910

This unusual fashion event was specifically referenced later by Cecil Beaton in his costumes for the Ascot scene in My Fair Lady.


Also down this rabbit hole I discovered this book which I’m also kind of keen on getting. I bet it’s full of crazy hats!

Fashion at Royal Ascot by James Sherwood

Would you like a Steampunk Valentine?

One of my many guises is Editrix de Mode for Steampunk Chronicle. Generally, this means I’m in charge of all things fashion but I also write other pieces about events and Steampunk related travel I do. One of my other innovations for the SPC is the Valentine’s Day e-Card. We have Steampunk artists make custom Valentines that our readers can send free of charge. I usually make a card or two myself — usually on the cheeky side. This year I made a couple of choice revisions to this piece of Edwardian advertising.

Pleasure Brand Tea by Gretchen Jacobsen

Pleasure Brand Tea by Gretchen Jacobsen

If you would like to send my eCard to your Valentine (or one of four other awesome cards) just visit Steampunk Chronicle’s Valentine’s eCard link!

Check me out at AnachroCon!

So AnachroCon is coming up this weekend and I’ll be all over that shiz Saturday and Sunday. Questionably, in my opinion, the festivities start on February 14th — yes Valentine’s Day. As my globe trotting husband will actually be in town for this year (he’s often in The Philippines around these dates) I’m skipping out on the opening evening. But if you would like to say hello or even be subjected to my programming I’ll be doing some panels for the Fashion Track. Here’s what I’ll be up to via descriptions I wrote for the con.

Fashion Track Panels:

The Forgotten Victorian Silhouette: The Crinoline Years 1830s-1850s, Saturday at 1pm

Before the hoop and before the bustle, the crinoline dominated women’s fashion. Queen Victoria’s reign began in 1837. What was she wearing? Steampunk Chronicle’s Editrix de Mode gives a survey of early Victorian ladies’ fashion.

Dressing for the Mourning After: Basics of Victorian Mourning Fashion, Sunday at 1pm

The cult of mourning reached its apex after the death of Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert in 1861. Steampunk Chronicle’s Editrix de Mode outlines the stages of mourning dress and offers ideas for creating mourning attire.

Sewing with Truly Victorian, Sunday at 2pm

Independent pattern company Truly Victorian is the serious costumer’s go to for historically accurate Victorian garments. But if you’re not so serious or even new to sewing, garments from Truly Victorian patterns are still in your reach. Steampunk Chronicle’s Editrix de Mode gives tips and advice for working with this pattern line.

Also, I’ll be donning the fez to run the Third AnachroCon Tea Duelling Tournament, Saturday at 5pm in the Tea Room.

Work in Progress: Gala Nocturna Ball Gown

In March, I’m heading to Belgium on a trip with my mom. As luck would have it, we will be there the same weekend as Gala Nocturna! I’ve wanted to go to this historical dark fantasy ball for several years and the planets have aligned and I’m going.

So now — What to wear!!!

Gala Nocturna always has a theme. This year is La Belle et La Bete — Beauty and The Beast, specifically referencing the film by Jean Cocteau.

La Belle et La Bete by Jean Cocteau

I’ve opted to try a new historical period, the 1830s, for this. Nothing like trying something new when you don’t have a lot of time! I’ll be using Truly Victorian’s 1830s Romantic Era Dress as my pattern and I have an inspiration board on Pinterest.

Wish me luck — I’ve done the mockup and I’m ready to start cutting the real fabric. Eek!