The Steampunk subculture has seen a huge growth in popularity and mainstream appeal. However, it would be an injustice to write off Kato's Steampunk Couture as a brand created by a designer jumping on a current trend.
While the phrase, "eats, sleeps, and breathes" has become something of a cringe worthy cliché, I can think of no better and more appropriate way to describe designer Kato's affinity and connection to the Steampunk style and culture.
Few people can boast of a home like Kato's—with a vintage train carriage serving as her dining room, a bedroom that looks like Captain Hook's cabin, and just beside it lies a "Steampunk Laboratory." Kato's unique home does triple duty, serving as not just a living space, but a studio and live-in set as well.
"The first floor is an open-plan living and dining room with a tea nook," Kato explains. "The dining room is a vintage train carriage complete with luggage cases and car number, and the tea nook is just a little, no-fuss Gibson-girl decorated area for the ladies to enjoy their afternoon tea." Kato went on to explain her bedroom, workspace, and the quite intriguing laboratory, which is "dark and delicious and packed floor to ceiling with shelves of curiosities. It's become everyone's favorite room in the house."
With such attention to detail and commitment to the Steampunk aesthetic, it's no wonder the brand has steadily grown since its inception in 2005. Although, with all of that said, it may be hard to believe that Kato didn't actually know what Steampunk was when she began designing her creations, and she actually had to have a friend inform her that her tastes had a specific term and subculture attached to them.
"I grew up in a Victorian rectory behind a 13th century cemetery. My parents appreciated and embraced the Victorian style and so I was surrounded by this from day one. I recall being probably the only 7-year-old punk/goth in mid Wales, but it was after watching the first Mad Max movie, when I was about eleven years old, that my love for combining a rugged, apocalyptic biker style with Victorian aesthetics took shape and pigeonholed my early fashion design. It was tiresome explaining the style to people when I didn't have any visual reference on me, so it was quite the relief when I was literally told what category my work fit into. My style finally had a name."