Through the years I’ve gotten many questions about hats and the different styles of hats. People ask where and when one should wear certain styles of hats. The most curiosity is around Fascinators. Arguably the most unique style of hat and the one that has a reputation that comes with fun and flair.
The Fascinator is a style of headwear commonly seen in fashionable society today- events such as the Kentucky Derby, royal weddings and high-society affairs. These are places where women are often seen in elegant often elaborate, Fascinators.
The root of the modern Fascinator can be traced back for centuries. Today they serve as conversation starters and fashion statements denoting glamorous elegance and often giving insights to the personality, and perhaps even sense of humor of the wearer.
Modern-day fascinators are very different in appearance to what first appeared on the heads of women back in the 17th century. In early times, women used scarves or veils wrapped around their heads. These were often knitted or crocheted and were sometimes made of silk, lace or some sort of netting. These head adornments were meant to add an air of mystery, as opposed to being a fashion statement.
In the 18th century, Marie Antoinette began the trend of adding items to her hair such as feathers, flowers, jewels, and even miniature waxen figures. One such figure was a battleship!
(Marie Antoinette, Queen of France (1778) with feathers on her hair cover, Portrait by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebru)
This began a trend among the wealthy class of women of that time who wanted to have a bit of extravagance to their style!
From the roaring 20s and up into the 1960s, fashion tastemakers began offering tiny hats with embellishments made of such materials as pearls, ribbons, feathers and sequins. Hats such as these were at this time, called doll hats, clip hats or half hats.
It was in the late 1960s that this kind of headwear started to morph into the head-turning pieces we know today. Renowned British milliner, Stephen Jones came up with the term, Fascinator, partly named for the way they attach to the head- by ribbon or clip but this name, Fascinator, was also inspired by Jones’ idea that these pieces were meant to be whimsical, extravagant and unique.
(a Model wearing a whimsical Stephen Jones creation)
Jones first began making his pieces out of veiling, designed for women to wear on top of Beehive hairdos. Then, as the 1970s got underway, Jones reimagined these pieces entirely and created a fashion trend that has been growing and evolving ever since.
Jones and award-winning milliner, Philip Treacy, continued to popularize and develop the look of the Fascinator on into the 1980s, when royals began to don this fancy and elite looking style of headwear.
Rarely serving a functional purpose, Fascinators are instead meant to complement an outfit and are even used as a way to elongate one’s silhouette.
Today Fascinators have become much sought after works of art and are even collected like art. They are worn by women around the globe who are seeking to smartly finish a fashion look as well as express their personality.
I love designing Fascinators! There is a creative freedom that comes with the making of these special pieces. I love to play with the fun and whimsical side as well as the elegant, refined side of this niche in the millinery world. Here are a few of my designs that are currently offered on my website.
PLease stop into my online shop to see my full line of Fascinators and hats!
*Referneces: Wikiedia, Gold Coast Couture, Vanity Fair