See here how to wear properly a fascinator.
After all the weddings and Christenings this spring, especially in the UK where we also saw the fairy-tale wedding of Harry and Megan, the Trooping the Colour and Ascot, we’ve gotten used to seeing more and more fascinators on the heads of royals and celebrities alike.
The small - and sometimes not that small - head adornment that sits playfully on the side of the head, has become a must for any important celebration that requires a hat.
Where do fascinators come from?
Women throughout history have always loved to adorn their hair with feathers and flowers. In the Tudor era, women used to wear headpieces with veils and pillbox hats that were decorated with pearls, feathers and jewels.
Marie-Antoinette, the Austrian-born Queen of France, wore incredibly creative and extravagant head-pieces such as a miniature battleship or landscape gardens. Her lavish and flamboyant style was then copied by the European upper-class.
In the austere late-Victorian era, women used to wear forward little hats called “afternoon hats”, that they attached with a ribbon at the back of their heads, very much like today’s fascinators.
The surrealist fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli wore a shoe-hat and a lamb shop-little hat perched on the side of her head, and in the early 60’s, the German-born celebrity milliner Mr John, made in New York little hats with veils that he called “cocktail hats” or “fascinators”.
What exactly are fascinators?
Philip Treacy, one of the most famous hat designers ever, explains that a fascinator is “a small adornment for the head, attached to a comb, wire, or clip, which perches on the head. No brim, no crown. The term today refers to anything attached to a clip, a headband, or a comb.”
The Irish milliner Treacy made, for example, the fascinator Princess Beatrice of York wore at Prince William and Catherine’s wedding, which she later sold for charity on eBay for $ 131,560!
Why are fascinators so popular?
Stephen Jones, another British milliner and probably the most radical and inventive hat designer of this century, says that the small hats were perfect to go out clubbing at Studio 54 in New York or the Blitz in London, and because they were small, they had to be more whimsical, more errrr, fascinating.
The iconic magazine editor Isabella Blow, would rarely be seen without wearing an eccentric fascinator. Philip Treacy said: “I was so inspired by how she wore my hats. It was as if she was not wearing them—like they happened to be there to entertain herself and whoever came in contact with her.”
By the way, Tracy thinks a fascinator is not a headdress royals should wear because: “Hats are part of the social fabric of special occasions in British society, so they should either wear proper hats when attending functions that are outside or in the evening, their fascinator would be a multi-multi-milion tiara”. But despite what their favourite milliner thinks, the younger royals love a fascinator and wear them on any occasion they can.
How to wear a fascinator properly
The fascinator is usually worn off to one side. If you are more adventurous, you can wear it on the front of your forehead; the way the irreverent Isabella Blow used to wear.
The first obvious rule is: if your fascinator comes with an elastic band, you’re supposed to wear the strap behind your ears and hide it with your hair. We really cannot believe anyone would wear the elastic strap under their chin without feeling utterly ridiculous! But you never know, right?
Second rule: a fascinator is not a magic wand that turns you automatically into an elegant woman.
We’ve seen at many weddings, girls wearing their hair loose and sometimes, even dishevelled as if they were going to the grocery store, with a fascinator placed on the top of their heads with no care at all - usually, the exact same fascinator several other girls are wearing at the same event.
If it’s a special occasion, you must make an effort to dress accordingly; your hair-do is part of your look too.
You can learn from the beautiful Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, how to wear a fascinator properly. Her hair is usually in a bun or styled in a manner that we cannot see the headband, elastic strap or combs that hold the headpiece in the right position.
So remember girls, the fascinator is part of a coiffure carefully styled. Just throwing some feathers and flowers on the side of your head won’t do the trick.
You can read here more on how to wear a fascinator and for extra inspiration, look at the wonderful creations of Philip Treacy in our gallery: