The Story About Feather and Fascinators

by Karen

The Story About Feather and Fascinators

While fascinators are no longer commonplace, anyone who has seen photos from a royal wedding knows that they still make a stylish statement. These charming accessories are not only incredibly fun to look at - they also have historic roots that date back to as early as the 17th century. What’s the relationship between feathers and fascinators? Read on to learn the origins of this fun and flirty fashion accessory.

What is a Fascinator?

Before jumping in to their history, let’s talk about what a fascinator actually is. A form of millinery, fascinators are formal headpieces that are crafted from lightweight fabrics. Unlike traditional hats, they secure to the head via a clip or a headband. Some fascinators have a base that resembles a traditional hat, but it’s their lavish decorations that set them apart.

The History of the Fascinator

While European women were expected to wear head coverings throughout much of the 16th century, it was in the Baroque Era that the fascinator started to take shape. This popular trend was started by the always fashionable Marie Antoinette, who was the Queen of France during the late 1700s. After arriving at the royal court wearing a plume of ostrich feathers fastened into her hair, many aristocratic French ladies followed suit. Soon, ostrich feathers became a trend among wealthy women Britain and many parts of Europe.

Fascinators in the 20th Century

Fascinators changed a bit as the years went on. In the late 1800s wearing “clouds” - or lightweight scarves - was the preferred hair accessory for many fashionable women. Veils also took the place of fascinators during much of the Victorian era. Traditional fascinators may have gone out of style for much of the 19th century, but in the 20th century they once again made a statement. During the Roaring Twenties, flappers were greatly influenced by British fashion and often adorned themselves in over-the-top accessories. Fancy feathered and jeweled hair accessories were an excellent way to accent their chic short hair dos. Even cloche hats were adorned by feathers and other stylish accoutrements. The Great Depression put a damper on lavish hair accessories for a while. But in the 1940s and 1950s, dainty hair accessories once again had a resurgence in popularity. The Callot Hat is an excellent example of a midcentury fascinator. As the decades wore on, miniature hats like the pillbox hat became more prevalent and stylish. These hats were also adorned with feathers, veils, and other decadent trimmings.

Fascinators and the Modern Era

While feathered fascinators are no longer worn on a daily basis, they still are customary at special social events. At the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011, many guests of royal descent arrived wearing elaborate fascinators. None was more talked about than the one worn by Princess Beatrice of York, which was an over-the-top design from Irish milliner Philip Treacy. The accessory eventually went to auction and sold for nearly 100,000 Euros, proving that fascinators still have the power to capture the imagination.

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