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The History of Fascinators and Fascinator Hats

What is a fascinator and why are they called fascinators? 

To answer this question we need to look into the fascinating history of fascinators from around the world.

Over the past decade fascinators have grown hugely in popularity, probably helped along by high profile ladies such as Catherine Middleton, Princess Beatrice and Kate Winslet who have all been photographed in recent years wearing fascinators at Royal weddings, high society parties or classy social events.

What are fascinators?

A milliner is used to describe a person or a company who makes or sells hats. Essentially, a fascinator is a form of millinery which is used to make an ornamental headpiece or hair piece which is traditionally worn at weddings, cocktail parties and occasions as an alternative to a formal hat or ladies hat.

Often made from sinamay or crinoline fabric and embellished with decorative trimmings such as organza, feathers, flowers and beads and for a more dramatic effect, some fascinators may also have a birdcage veil. The fascinator creation is attached to a fixing, usually a comb, clip or headband so it can be easily worn and fixed to the head.

The finished creation is a lightweight and easy to wear hair fascinator which makes a stunning alternative to a ladies hat or formal wedding hat.

Fascinators through the years

Looking back through time, women from all over the world and from many different religions have worn ornamental headwear in some form or another. From basic flowers and beads to feathers and gems, women throughout the ages have used decorative objects to create pretty attention-grabbing hairstyles. Even in the ancient times women may have worn coloured pieces of cloth as a form of head covering.

In the late Renaissance era of the 16th century through to the Baroque era of the 17th century, decorated hats and lacy veils were changing into more elaborate larger headwear objects featuring ostrich feathers as worn by Queen Marie Antoinette at the Royal courts.

At the turn of the 20th century during the Edwardian period, headpieces started to more resemble the fascinator that we know and love today. In the 1920s Charleston era we saw feather headdresses and hair pieces described today as flappers or flapper headbands which featured beads and large feathers usually worn with a flapper dress.

From the 1940s through to 1970s fascinators and cocktail hats of various styles went in and out of fashion but in the 1980s, hats and occasion hairpieces were becoming more popular once again and it was around this time the term fascinator was used to describe them.

During the 80s, Princess Dianna was quite often photographed wearing pillbox hats or fascinator hats and meanwhile in the music industry celebrities were accessorising their look and creating their own unique style with fashionable headwear. When we look at stars like Boy George, Madonna and Grace Jones we can all remember them sporting some questionable fashion hair pieces over the years.

Since the start of the 21st century the fascinator has become a must-have women’s fashion accessory for weddings, events and occasions.

From the catwalk at the world’s top fashion weeks to the crowds at classy horse racing events, celebrity women such as Kate Winslet, Kim Kardashian to Lady Gaga have been spotted wearing a fascinator, although in our opinion the undisputed queen of fascinators has to be the beautiful Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.

The future of fascinators and hatinators

In these modern times there is a big choice of hair fascinator styles and colours to choose from, and designs can range from vintage style feather flapper headbands to contemporary floral hair pieces made from twigs with pretty orchids and flowers.

The last few years has seen a new hair accessory become increasing popular and that is the rise of the "hatinator". A popular women's accessory for Ascot and Ladies Day, a hatinator is a cross between a fascinator and a ladies hat. Although it looks like a formal wedding hat in terms of size and style, a hatinator is mounted onto an alice band or hair clip just like a fascinator.

With another Royal Wedding in 2018 the fashionable fascinator trend looks set to continue for many years to come which will keep our milliners very busy for the foreseeable future.

To learn more about the many types of fascinators and hatinators that you can buy in our online store read our simple fascinator style guide by clicking here.

To buy fascinators and hats online you can view our full range here.