Steampunk Hands Around the World – Interview with Izabela of Prior Attire

This month sees the inaugural event of Steampunk Hands Around the World, a bright spark of an idea by Kevin Steil aka the Airship Ambassador. The focus is on celebrating the new friendships that have been ignited within the subcultural boiler of Steampunk and to share our love of this multifaceted genre, across cultural and geographical boundaries.


I would like to share a few of the friendships that I have made along the way, friendships that have led to collaboration, inspiration and the ongoing development of The Navigatrix.

The first of these interviews is with Izabela of Prior Attire. I first became aware of this noteable bespoke costuming and bridal seamstress through Izabela’s partner, who followed me on Facebook. My brother Matt and I met these two wonderful people at Steampunk Stamford, a small convivial in the historic stone Lincolnshire town. This meeting led to a collaborative photoshoot as I discovered that Izabela’s ‘Steampunk Amazones’ range included the ‘Neo Bedouin’ – remarkably compatible with my own ‘Aether Nomad’ concept. I have to admit, I got a bit excited!

We met again later last year at Asylum in Lincoln, both Izabela and Lucas dressed in fine Steampunk Bedouin styles. So, on to the interview!

1. How did your shop get its name and what was the main inspiration behind opening your shop?

It is the name of my main business – so it was easy. The etsy store opened for one simple reason – ease. We do most of our trading at markets, but after having received lots of emails and enquiries about things available in between, we simply chucked any surplus stock here. Not a lot, as the majority sell first hand, but sufficient.

2. What do you create and do you have a signature product? If so how did it come to be?

What we specialize in is historically accurate garments – from late Roman to Early Edwardian. Bridal dresses, especially historically inspired bridal gowns are another speciality – and some discounted samples are advertised in the shop. The majority of etsy items however come from our Steampunk Branch -mostly because fittings etc are not always necessary with steampunk items. Signature item – I think we have too big a range to single one thing out – though I suppose for Steampunk it will be the flouncy skirt with the hitching up option, based on late Victorian petticoats.

3. Where do you find your inspiration and what makes you different from the other people that make what you make?

History, obviously , plus music and nature. Huge majority of our work is bespoke and I think that creating one of a kind , unique outfits is our most noticeable trend.

4. What do you enjoy most about your craft?

For Historical items – research and getting the outfit right. For Bridals and Steampunks – letting my imagination run wild with ideas – so the design aspect.

5.What is your best advice to newbie Etsians just opening their shops?

Not sure am the right person to answer that question – out Etsy store is a backup, an auxiliary measure, not a full time shop, so I haven’t been taking a lot of time to promote it, organize it etc. but generally – make sure you get proper photographs of your items, professional if you can – and be honest about the items in descriptions.

6. What are your top 3 favourite shops on Etsy and what do you like about them?

Am afraid I don’t really follow other shops. I do mark some items, but I don’t spend enough time here to decide on favourite sellers.

7. Where can you be found online?

Facebook ( Prior Attire, Prior Engagement and Off the Rails) ; websites Prior Engagement , Prior Attire , Off The Rails: Prior Attire Steampunk Bazaar , Twitter too…

8. Do you have any coupon codes / special sales / upcoming or current promotional events going on in your shop?

Not at the moment, but there may be some items incoming soon– we suffered a fire recently, and the majority of the stock has been damaged. All the items that survived and are in wearable condition are already on sale on Facebook, but will be adding a few steampunk ones here too – so keep your eyes open. At the moment the newest item is our desktop calendar with some arresting images from the after fire Photoshoot.

9. What is it about Steampunk that you love and how did you become involved in it?

Creativity and the DIY aspect, it was easy to embark into Steampunk from the Historical side of the business and I love creating new items that are practical, original, and don’t have to adhere to the rules.Thankyou so much Izabela. I wish you luck in recovering your stock and I have to say how admirable it is to turn such a disaster into a photo opportunity! Matt and I both look forward to bumping into you both again at some splendid Steampunk gathering.Remember, for Twitter and Tumblr information on the Steampunk Hands event, use #SteampunkHands and to find out more about The Navigatrix’s fellow crewmembers and dear acquaintances, use #friendsofTN 

May you find new friends, nurture existing friendships and treasure old ones,

~ The Navigatrix