The Steampunk Gas Mask Fashion Guide
What Is A Steampunk Gas Mask?
A Steampunk gas mask is used as a fashion accessory and symbolism in the Steampunk aesthetic normally due to their connection and popularity in the post apocalyptic world for survival of which Steampunk is inspired by.
Gas masks are prominently associated with the threat of chemical and biological war fare and the destruction of the environment to protect it's owner from harm and death.
Classed as clothing and therefore can be included as a feature of fashion. It can be a working gas mask or not and complete fantasy for aesthetic purpose only. Adorned with gems, accessories, relevant motifs or anything according to the wearers tastes to make it unique.
There are styles of gas masks most frequently associated with Steampunk including a world war gas mask, gas mask and goggles, industrial Steampunk gas mask, plague gas mask though most can work to pull off a overall look and archetypal character that we explore here.
What Is Steampunk Gas Mask Fashion?
Gas masks were designed in the second world war as a defense against weaponized poisonous gas and have become easily recognizable since that time. They have become more varied in their use from fire fighting, nuclear containment to use in the army.
Because of their origins in the second world war and their place in visions of our future post apocalyptic world where inspiration is taken the Steampunk fashion has adopted them as part of its culture.
The gas mask fashion part is a sub genre of the parent Steampunk fashion being its core aesthetic though they cross over and are accepted well to closely related fashions Cyberpunk, Dieselpunk, and goth.
Steampunk includes gas masks of different styles that may have Steampunk motifs or features that bring them in line with Steampunk whether or not the gas mask actually functions.
They are not something that is going out of use very much the opposite. Gas masks will have a prominent role to play in our future like they have in the past if we as the human race continue down the same path of global destruction and climate change.
History Of The Gas Mask
The gas mask was a simple invention created by Garrett Morgan, his safety hood was intended to protect workers from smoke and fumes. It came to prominence in the world war in fear of Germany's poisonous gases and was a popular and essential accessory on and off the battle field. Since then they have continued to be varied and improved in different fields even finding their way into modern fashion because of the association to certain eras and scenarios like the world war and post apocalyptic Armageddons.
Fashion Designers Who Endorse Gas Masks
Some fashion designers have directly adapted gas masks to be a actual fashion accessory. Survival is a big and important niche in the modern world though not very exciting in aesthetic ways, people like to be prepared looking good or not.
Diddo Velema has taken a plain gas mask and turned it into a exciting attention grabbing fashion accessory by decorating it.
He wrote, “We are in a state of perpetual war – with ourselves and with the eco-system that sustains us. Perpetual war breeds perpetual fear. In the present context, this fear stems from our extreme desire for authenticity and manifests itself in our collectively insatiable culture of consumption. Designer Gas Masks is an attempt to visualize this state of mind.”
Another popular designer who adapted gas masks to be fashionable is Irene Luft from Berlin who sent her models down the catwalk in a varying array of amazing gas mask costumes.
Other choices of designers are Louis Vuitton or Gucci offering amazing products with diamonds and other additions.
Did you know Walt Disney made a cool gas masks for children they were colorful with cartoon characters printed on them in case war made it to their front door in those times.
Why not be the designer and do it yourself it is a popular idea. It does not take much to buy a mask and add to it, you can find gas masks online in Steampunk online stores, Ebay, Amazon or maybe in the army surplus store down town.
Steampunk Gas Masks In Popular Culture
Gas masks have become less accessories of disaster and war as time has gone on. Fashion has adopted them because they represent and symbolize certain popular elements like the world war and post apocalypse.
Even with COVID just passing this has brought them to the fore front even more. During the lock down it was not rare to see someone wearing a complete functioning gas mask for the reason of protection, I certainly saw several people including a taxi driver wearing one and I have not forgotten it.
They are easy to get your hands on with the survival niche being extremely popular in the world today, they are as easy to buy as any fashion accessory online including places like ebay.
Because they have become more main stream and available more openly they have found their way into games, films which makes them more of a desirable item to more younger people.
Recent films like Mad Max who have a steampunk and diesel punk feel to them have shown the gas mask to be a survival item and also a defining fashion statement.
Another film with lots of Steampunk inspired elements is 'Hell Boy' and in particular the character 'Karl Ruprect Kroenen' who's stand out feature is he wears a black and gold gas mask and protective body suit.
This particular gas mask has been designed to be a piece or art and disturbing to behold. Gas masks are more than just for protection they say something about the wearer.
'Fallout' is a post apocalyptic game with alot of references to the steampunk fashion including various style gas masks. As you can imagine from reading the title alot of them rely on their gas mask to survive and make adaptions to it for their own unique look so you know which group they are part of.
DIY Steampunk Gas Mask
Being a Steampunk gas mask of a fantasy niche the gas mask does not need to be functioning it just needs to look right. If it is fully working they are fairly expensive to buy when there are lots of ways to make one from scratch for your costume that can be unique.
You can use templates found online using paper mashe, cardboard, household items, craft foam even just a plastic bottle on its own and the only tools you need are pretty much the same for each scissors a hot glue gun and acrylic paints.
It is a culture of Steampunk to get hands on and a right of passage to make something yourself and Steampunk it. There is nothing better than wearing a brand new gas mask especially when you have made it yourself that is something to talk about at your next event.
We provide some great links below to DIY Steampunk gas mask videos.
There are many different styles of Steampunk gas mask here is the most popular:
Radioactive Gas Mask
Radioactivity can result from nuclear fall out though a mask on its own generally would mean fall out could still get on your body and skin, though it looks great on its own anyway especially the icons on the filters that mean radioactive.
World War I Gas Mask
The gas masks made in the first world war were crude but they worked for their purpose to protect the wearer from inhaling airborne pollutants and toxic gases.
Gas Mask And Goggles
Goggles are great protection for the eyes so why the hell not, they may not stop radioactivity or poisonous gas but they look good and who knows when you might break out the welder to fix the airship. Goggles are Steampunk.
Industrial Steampunk Gas Mask
The industrial look is one of cogs and gears and piping that is why it is called industrial, it look's like a lot is going on with lots of moving parts like the industrial era.
Leather Steampunk Gas Mask
Leather was a very accessible material in the Victorian times and makes a great durable building material for a gas mask. Though getting the material is easy building it is a little more of a skill as you can see in the stitching. It may look weird but it is Steampunk.
Post Apocalyptic Steampunk Mask
These masks do not really have a set look they are often thrown together like out of what ever rubbish is to hand because when the world falls apart it is difficult to buy things that are essential and manufactured. Therefore handmade and improvisation is the way.
Victorian Gas Mask
Though gas masks were not properly invented in the Victorian era until June 12, 1849 this is fantasy so they can still be created using the imagination. As you know by now Steampunk takes inspiration from the Victorian times so a mask will most probably follow all those normal elements including be made from basic materials and not look very high tech probably the colour brown or bronze with metal.
Steampunk Mouth Respirator
The respirator is designed to do its job stopping you from inhaling hazardous atmospheres, including fumes, vapors, gases and particulate matter such as dusts and airborne pathogens such as viruses. Usually they do not look that amazing as there is limited space. Maybe add some spikes and paint it brown to bring it into Steampunk fashion. Works great with added pair of goggles.
Latex Steampunk Gas Mask
A latex gas mask is used to protect the wearer from inhaling airborne pollutants and toxic gases. The mask forms a sealed cover over the nose and mouth, but may also cover the eyes and other vulnerable soft tissues of the face.
Vintage World War Gas Mask
These are simply the real deal functioning gas masks normally from the world war era and maybe harder to get hold of and more expensive. For those who want a true to life look a vintage mask is the right choice and it might just come in handy you never know.
Gas Mask Goth Steampunk
This mask takes elements of both the Steampunk and Gothic fashions and melds them into one gas mask. This is usually completely black like any self respecting Goth would be with extra adornments such as cogs or spikes or silver chunky chains and skull motifs.
Steampunk Gas Mask Skull Half Face
Inspired by the Mad Max films this has a great Steampunk look to it, the skull aesthetic is something to terrorize the enemy not just to save your own skin.
Steampunk Bronze Gas Mask
Bronze is a traditional Steampunk color and material one of the industrial revolution so to have a bronze gas mask would be a head turner. Normally they just look like they are made of bronze metal rather than actually being so, though if you had the right contacts or skills you could make a actual bronze gas mask.
Steampunk Mask Masquerade
Black Baron Steampunk Gas Mask
In Steampunk there is good and bad it is not all cogs, gears, steam and pocket watches. For every heroine there is a matching equal and opposite villain trying to steal your locomotive or lady, have you killed by steam powered robots or wants to burst you airships balloon and alot of the time that is a Baron. This spiky gas mask is menacing enough for any very dark black baron to do his terror and tyranny.
Plague Steampunk Gas Mask
This is a upgrade to the original plague mask as you know Steampunk gents are always improving things and technology. In the original plague mask the nose is stuffed with herbs and flower petals to take away the smell of a infected patient with lesions and give some small protection from catching the disease. In a genius improvement and tribute to the plague gas mask it is completely sealed with added filters so it is extra safe from disease and viruses.
Girly Steampunk Gas Mask
There is not really many gas masks designed for women they are the same for either gender though they are open to customization. Some come already customized like with pink corset laces ( seen below ) and motifs or you can add your own jewelry, colors and materials to make it more girly.
Masks are not that far from being a real survival accessory for us all due to climate change and pollution, we love the fashion not the apocalypse. If we continue in the same direction they will be extremely more popular for their function not their cool look, keep that in mind and remember to do something for the Earth and nature where you can.