The word “fascinator” is often defined as “a fine, crocheted, knitted or lace triangle that was used as a shawl worn around the shoulders or as head covering”.
But in this case a “hair fascinator” actually refers to the extravagant hair adornment, that sits somewhere between a simple hair accessory and a small, fancy cocktail hat. It can be attached with a clip, a hair comb or headband.
These elaborate headpieces can be found in a variety of shapes, styles and colours and are generally made out of a combination of feathers, beads, flowers or netting. They can incorporate beaded flowers, fabric flowers, bows, feather flowers and bows, tulle, netting, and much more.
There are many types of looks and styles, from simple bows to completely outrageous and fun designs with huge feathers and decorations.
The hatinator is another type of headpiece that is very similar to a fascinator, yet a hatinator has a much larger base, and can often resemble a tiny hat with a fascinator attached.
Fascinators are particularly popular at many horse-racing events, such as the Melbourne Cup, in Australia, and other special sporting events. They go well with the often extravagant and flamboyant outfits that are commonly worn. Subtler fascinators can be worn with a more elegant dress, or a lot of trimming on the fascinator can be used to enhance the whole outfit of a more understated dress.
They are generally worn to rather formal events and have become a very popular accessory for younger people at formals and proms, and even at night clubs.
Weddings are another place these accessories are seen more and more. Often the guests choose to wear them as a more unusual or interesting accessory for the hair. But they are also commonly seen in the wedding party, both by the bride, and the bridal party. They can be worn with veils, or without. They look great with a cage veil or with just a subtle piece of tulle surrounding it, or even a full length veil.
The bridal party can choose out of huge flowers or feathers, or something very delicate and elegant. Hair fascinators can also be a wonderful alternative to the more traditional hat for the mother of a bride.
Fascinators have been around since the 17th century and perhaps even earlier. It was the height of fashion during the late 17 hundreds to wear huge fantastic scenes on the on top of powdered wigs. They were a statement of a person’s prestige and wealth.
Fascinators were often worn with the towering super-high hairstyle, called the pouf., at a time when fashion itself was very flamboyant and over the top with bustles and very full sleeves. They were very outlandish and garish and commonly had themes such as bird’s nests or even model ships. Although very elaborate back then, they still typically consisted of feathers, beads and/or flowers just as they do now.
It seems fascinators went out of vogue for a very long time, until they became popular at the horse races in Australia and the UK.
They’ve now become so fashionable that celebrities are often seen wearing them to all sorts of red carpet events, and although, sometimes they can be just as elaborate as in the 1700s, they are often much more toned down, so they can suit anyone’s tastes.