The hunt is on for costume designers who know how to tell a steampunk story.

Designers from all over the country - and sometimes from overseas - show off their skills and their imaginations every June in Oamaru.

Entries for the Steampunk New Zealand Fashion Awards show at Queen's Birthday weekend must present a character as well as a costume, and tell their story.

These stories of netherworld bounty hunters, post apocalyptic pirates, and time travellers are read out while the entrants have their time on the catwalk.


Organisers of the fashion show, part of the annual Steampunk Festival in Oamaru, are seeking out makers who will bring their ideas and their creations to the show.

The show is a major part of the festival and has been sold out for the past two years.

Judges this year will be two characters who have established Capital! Steampunk in Wellington, known in the community as Colonel Sir Julius Hawthorne, and Mrs Hudson (the younger) - Leslie and Jane Craven.

They have signalled that they will be looking for richness of fabric and colour among this year's entries. The Colonel summed it up as "splendidness".

He said: "We're great believers that steampunk dress doesn't need to be brown, or black. The fact that Queen Victoria spent many years dressed in deep mourning has somewhat influenced our modern view of Victorian costume, but the Victorians loved colour, often in combinations we'd shy away from today, and with aniline dyes becoming available from around the 1850s, vibrant-coloured fabrics became available to more and more people."

He believes the garments should have "generosity of cut, where appropriate" so that the fabric drapes as it should. And the judges will be looking closely at accessories. "Us steampunks like our shiny," he explained.

Festival organiser Helen Jansen has emphasised that the fashion show is not haute couture, requiring many hours and great expense. Many of the entrants have used recycled clothes and accessories held together with staples and glue-gun if necessary. She said: "The key things are the character and the story, and that the costume supports them with the accessories."

Costume designers who would like to enter the fashion show, can find the details and the entry forms at the website.


The Steampunk NZ Festival is running in Oamaru from June 2 to 6.