As promised the full Fang Magazine Article. To see the article in the magazine with the full pictures contact me inworld and I will send you a copy. Esme Violet
Several months ago I became fascinated with the Steampunk culture in Secondlife. My friends and I searched stores to play out our dreams of sci-fi and fantasy role play. Steampunk is a sub-culture of the 19th century era when steam power was widely used. With Victorian influence, Steampunk embodies classic beauty with industrial strength. In most circles the genre intertwines with cyberpunk and often gothic influences. In our exploration for our new obsession my friends and I stumbled in to the SL store that would literally change our in-world shopping experience forever. Tesla Isle and the megaplex is home of Unzipped and Steam Powered Nuts, also known as SPN. There are also other reputable designers featured there such as Fallen Gods and Earthstone Jewelry. With the sim’s intricate details of brass, wire, gears, nuts and bolts Tesla embodies exactly what Steampunk is all about. Tesla is far from the normal big box store that has a few walls and vendors thrown around. Every detail has been thought out to perfection. With a recent renovation the store has a more distinctive steampunk atmosphere. Although the space is massive in size (you literally could shop there for hours) it is easy to navigate and find the individual category sections such as Victorian, Steampunk, Nocturnum, Formal wear, Vehicles etc. A newly updated club literally inside the store, The Reactor Club, has been completely redesigned to hold special events. Even with all of the upgrades and changes, performance has been increased and the lag meter is unbelievably low… great for someone like me with a less then optimal pc.
The owners of Tesla Isle, Destany Laval and Thomus Keen have been business partners and friends for several years. Although they met in world they have since became great RL friends and even traveled extensively together. Destany is the designer and owner of Unzipped, the clothing portion of the store. Thomus is the weapons and vehicle creator. The partnership came out of a love affair with all things steampunk. They became fast friends, hung out and “caused a lot of trouble.” Laval was renting shops and Thomus helped refine the looks. Both designers had searched out stores to address their need for the genres clothing and accessories. Needless to say, neither of the two was truly impressed with what they had found. They decided to start designing their own creations and it was not long before other secondlife residents were asking to buy their products. Thus, the Unzipped and Steam Powered Nuts stores were born. There is no lack of talent either between these two designers. Destany has an extensive background in photo shop and graphic design and has been teaching the mediums for many years. She learned of Secondlife from designing in another virtual 3D world, Moove, and decided to come to SL to begin designing here as well. Thomus has been in the gaming industry for years working as a Senior Environmental Designer and Programmer for systems such as the Xbox360 and Nintendo Wii. He was invited to SL by fans of his fantasy artwork. Apparently, Linden Labs had asked that he come in to talk about Second Life as a Gaming Industry prototyping platform and using Second Life as a collaborative development environment. “I believe then, and now that Second Life is the future of Game Development,” Keen says.
The combination of the two has formed a partnership that seamlessly transitions a love for all things steampunk into a secondlife reality. Industrialized Steampunk (a style that Laval and Keen created themselves); is a form of Steampunk that places focus on the Mechanical (or kinetic) aspects. In the Tesla creations, focus is placed on the kinetic (pneumatic) parts, such as the tiny gears and mechanics that make up a watch. These parts are brought out, enlarged and are the focus of the designs. As a result the creations of these designers are amazing to not only wear and use… but to simply see work together. There are moving gears, steam powered boots, weapons ready for combat mode, air ships that fly, and huds with more bells and whistles then you could ever hope for.
Laval’s clothing style ranges from the Nocturnum line, which has a more gothic or vampire feel, to industrial steam-wear that portrays a grungy and mechanical feel. Classic Victorian style ensembles are also found in the Unzipped design line to reflect the 19th century era. Almost all of the outfits are made for male and female and seamlessly go beautifully together. To even further the role play experience Keen has developed weapons, goggles, boots, watches, armor and vehicles to mirror Laval’s fashion designs. Destany and Thomus’ design process is a collaboration of ideas and soon a storyline is developed to influence the specific line they are working on at the time. Laval says, “It’s like having a story-line in my mind. I guess that’s why role-players love them (her designs) because they can add their own story-line. It’s all imagination. I just imagine, and then create. What I try to do is imagine myself in an era, what materials I would have and how best to use them.” She goes on to say, “All the women appear strong, independent, depicting the past to the future, yet also sexy. The men… always strong, fighters, protectors.”
As for the quality of Laval’s and Keen’s creations… perfection comes to mind. Every detail is painstakingly placed and thought out. All of the textures are created from scratch. No shortcuts are made, no tricks used; just good ol’ fashioned hard work gets the results of the best steampunk creations in secondlife. Due to their attention to historically accurate attire and a true understanding for the sci-fi and fantasy community, both Laval and Keen have had a strong influence in the increasingly popular steampunk culture in secondlife. Do to their aggressive pace in creating they can continue to up the ante and try to outdo themselves with each creation. Working effectively toward their goals and as a great team together they can create even better products for their customers. “…better clothing with more options, and better combat sets with ever increasing coolness. Things that normally spread creators too thin…are melded between two individuals working synchronously towards a shared goal,” explains Keen.
I took the opportunity to ask some of their customers what they thought of Unzipped and Steam Powered Nuts, the creators, and the customer service received. No matter how impeccable the designs, ultimately what makes the designer successful is how the patrons feel about their shopping experience. Here is what several had to say:
evilfie Scarpulla says, “I’ve been following Unzipped since my early days of sl. I have over 30 items from the shop and go check it at least once a month…its original, a lot of outfits in one pack and amazingly done…it’s a style by its own…the vehicles are amazing…you can’t find that (kind of ) quality anywhere but there.”
“In my eyes Destany and Thomus create the best male outfits for steampunk. I love the details and dark colours. And Destany is always nice and helpful!” -Amadeus Hammerer
Audrey Cluny enthusiastically replied to my questions with, “I am a fan of Destany, her creations, are modern, fun and very well dressed, the quality of textures are amazing. I try to buy the entire collection…Destany sends a notice and I almost jump on top of it… (I) want to be the first to buy…my inventory full of clothes and Unzipped.”
There was no end to the positive responses I received regarding the store, Destany, Thomus, and their overall customer service. As from my own personal experience, I have become a regular customer of Unzipped and SPN. I could not begin to count the number of items I have in my inventory from these stores. The compliments I receive from wearing their creations and the conversations that are sparked from other secondlife residents asking about my style are worth all of the lindens I can buy. Speaking of, the prices at the stores are remarkably competitive and there is something for everyone’s price range. Keen has this to say about their price points. “We put a lot into our products, and we price things at a very fair (albeit low) price, because we want really nice things to be accessible to more people. We are charging what is essentially a few dollars for what represents many months of extremely hard work; that caters to a low percentage of the Second Life population, is true dedication.”
You can follow Unzipped and SPN on a number of other media outlets as well.
The main website http://www.unzipped3d.com
Interactive blog http://unzipped3d.wordpress.com
Destany Lava and thomus Keen l will be a guest speakers at the Wild, Wild West Con in March of 2011
You can check out their website at
Particularly, do not miss this amazing video featuring Unzipped and SPN designs
Fang Magazine Writer