Steampunk Couture was founded by British designer Kato in 2005. Until recently, Kato has operated as a one woman show illustrating, sewing, and modeling her own designs. Kato’s work spans from couture and costumes to hand made props and accessories.

She continues to transcend the fashion market, by expanding her range of products each year. Steampunk Couture’s style is described as a marriage between Victorian, sci-fi, and shabby-chic fashion and often caters not only to cosplay culture, but anyone looking to infuse some quirky fashion into their everyday wardrobe.

I’ve been following Kato’s work for some time now and witnessing her ability to run such a successful business on her own has been incredibly inspiring to me. I am completely in awe of her creative vision and I think all of you will feel the same after catching even a glimpse of her decadent designs. Without further adieu, here is some insight from the wonderfully talented Kato and the inspiration behind her fashion empire, Steampunk Couture.

When did your love of steampunk culture first emerge?

I’d been fascinated with the Victorian aesthetic I lived in and around in the UK and then the sci fi world of Mad Max and my Tank Girl comics from a very early age, so it was this combination that cultivated my love for the Steampunk culture. It was nice to discover that this style had a name.

At what point did you decide to turn your interest in fashion design into a full time business venture?

When I emigrated to the United States. I’d begun designing and fabricating clothing for a select few clients for a couple of years prior to my relocation, but it was only once I’d moved to Los Angeles that I realized that what I was doing had become a serious job and demanded my full attention.

Who are some of your style icons?

The 2D people of our world! My beginnings are deeply rooted in illustration, so the beautiful characters of the likes of J.Scott Campbell, Jamie Hewlett, Alessandro Barbucci, and Barbara Canepa, to name a few, have inspired the way I look at, think about, and fabricate clothing. I’m forever striving to create chunky, bold, “cartoony” fashions that defies the laws of physics.

What tips would you offer to aspiring designers and entrepreneurs?

Firstly you need to really and truly believe in yourself and push past the nay-sayers. This can be really hard sometimes, especially if you’re up against teachers or family, but listen to your gut and ruthlessly pursue what it’s telling you. It’ll never let you down.

Live and breath your passion. Every decision I’ve made for the past several years has been geared (no pun intended) toward furthering my business goals. Every penny I’ve made has gone back into my projects. I don’t even buy a new pair of shoes unless I know I can use them for at least 5 photoshoots I’m styling.

Social networking is one of the most important and beneficial things you could ever do for your business. Take it really seriously and keep in mind the way you would like yourself and your business to be seen.

What inspired you to cross over into writing and explore the possibility of creating a graphic novel?

My long-time love and collector mentality of graphic novels and comics but also a reoccurring demand for this from my fan base. People email me every day, some casually mentioning it, some impatiently demanding, so a few months ago I took two days off work to write the outline for my first story and develop all the characters. There’s some really exciting things in the works related to this new project that I have to keep quiet about for now, but I should be able to spill the beans to you very soon!

Are there any other steampunk artists you would like to collaborate with?

Any and all! I just wish I had the time. I get some great and super sweet offers every day but my ridiculous schedule doesn’t allow for frequent collaborations. I’m working toward freeing up more of my time so that I can work with more of my favourite artists though. I’m currently in discussion and first stages of collaborative project with Brian Kessinger, Adrian Velez, Nina-Kate of Jane Doe Latex, Truls Stokka of Dracula clothing and two separate toy companies (the names of which I don’t have permission to mention yet) who’re licensing my work for limited edition collectable “Kato” figures, and an online licensing company interested in my illustrations.

I’d really like to work with Abney Park in the near future. They’re a super sweet bunch of steampunks and would be lots of fun to do business with. I’ve also been thinking about bugging Tim Burton at some point and exploring the possibilities.  I have some personal connections to him that I’ve never utilized and people mention a Kato-Burton cross-over almost every week. At first it was just flattering and lovely, but now I’m actually giving it some thought.

What exciting new projects can we expect from Steampunk Couture in the near future?

I’ve just hired several new seamstresses and in the process of training a couple more so that I can provide a good stock of everyone’s favourite SPC designs and meet the growing demand. So, nothing super exiting, just business growth and expansion. I hope to move the label into it’s own building soon which will act as the showroom/Steampunk hub/sweat shop of the business and provide my staff with a fun and comfortable place to come to work and thusly bring new designs and more of everyone’s favourites to them on a regular basis. I’m frustrated with not being able to give people what they want, when they want it, so these are the changes that I’m making at the moment.

Besides fashion design what else are you passionate about?

Gardening! Oh my god, I’m crazy-passionate about spending hours pulling up weeds, planting flowers, and tending my vegetable patch. If left to my own accords, I’d spend the whole day out there in my wellies with my big, stupid sun hat and probably a glass a wine. I’ve finished many a gardening session slightly drunk. But yes, that’s one of my biggest passions. I’m also a fitness nut and I get really excited about going to the gym every afternoon, like a little dog all quivering and riled-up by the front door before going for it’s daily walk!

I also play the piano a lot, but nothing spectacular, just lots of Chico Marx impressions. You’ll rarely hear me playing any Beethoven. I like nailing film scores and tv show themes like Dexter too and although I could read music as a kid, I neglected that ability over the years but luckily have been blessed with a pretty musically-tuned ear, so it doesn’t take long to work something out. It’s a nice break from the sewing machine too.

What does a day in the life of Kato entail?

I aim to get up at retarded-o’ clock like 5am or something and ramp straight into my emails and orders. I run two Etsy stores as well as two websites and a weekly ebay auction, so there’s a lot to be done early in the day before dropping everything off at the post office. The rest of the day I’m either shooting, modeling, prepping other models, designing, fabricating new pieces or the odd custom order here and there or off on the road, running some errands. Somewhere in there, I try to fit in eating, exercise and watching Netflix.

Can you offer us a little insight about your new website

It’s very very naughty! So you’ve been warned. Hehe. It’s my outlet for my Steampunk erotic photography. It’s something I’d wanted to do for a couple of years but couldn’t find the time for, then I was poking around online, looking for something similar and came up empty-handed, so decided to just get on with it and make it happen. I’ve shot enough content to launch the site with and it should be ready to go in a few weeks, but in true web-building form, I’ve had tons of set-backs, so I can’t give you an ETA just yet. It’s a paysite that consists of weekly-updated art nude photosets and video, all in a heavily-steampunked style. I’ve designed and made all the outfits, sets and props for all the content (which has been a colossal undertaking) but I’m hoping that my hard work will pay off and people will enjoy the steamy, visual stimulation. I’m including other female models on the site too and am actively searching for new faces, so if anyone’s interested in becoming a SteamGirl, please feel free to get in touch.

A big thank you to Kato for an amazing interview! Follow Kato on her Facebook page to keep in touch with this wonderful Steampunk talent. 

Need some make up ideas to go along with your Steampunk Couture outfit? Check out my Steampunk Airship Pirate Make Up Tutorial on YouTube! Looking for other Steampunk stuff? Find interviews with Catherinette Rings, Renaissance Fashions, LetzMakeup, Aranwen’s Jewellery, and more on the Hollywood Noir Steampunk Page! 


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