Fascinators - light, decorative model baju batik, usually arranged on a comb, clasp or locks band and ideally a frothy cocktail of beads, ribbon and feathers.
Today they are generally mass-produced and on sale in every high street store. Nobody seems to be absolutely sure about the origin of the name fascinator although in America in the 1860s the term was used for a lacy, woollen shawl worn loosely over the top. This doesnt entirely relate to todays concoctions; my own undertake it is that fascinator is an label in terms of etymology given that they are usually rather captivating.
Women have been adorning their heads throughout background: Roman ladies had elaborate hairstyles; 17th Century noblewomen wore large and elaborate wigs; the Victorians got a bonnet for every event; the Edwardians wore elaborate feathered hats. When you think about it, it makes great sense both when it comes to fashion and practicality most women in history would not experienced a massive wardrobe of clothes or easy access to hair products and styling. Wigs and hats could make a big fashion and hide a multitude of sins. At the start of the 20th Century hats were a social necessity a female would not dream of stepping outside without her hat and gloves.
Hats nowadays are usually associated with special occasions, particularly weddings. There is a growing trend towards wearing a fascinator as an alternative. They are more fun than a hat and usually more ornamental. Fascinators were popular with the girls at Ascot in the first 1900s and the 1940s and 1950s saw many exotic little creations known as cocktail hats. During the Second World War however, the wearing of hats sharply declined reflecting the beginning of changes in culture and etiquette.
The revival of the purely decorative headpiece in the form of a fascinator can probably be attributed to the Royal Family members. The queen (and even the majority of the guests) wore one to her grandson Peter Philips wedding ceremony in 2008 and then there was Princess Beatrices magnificent headpiece at the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William last year.
Ironically, although they were very popular at Ascot from the early 1900s, fascinators have now been banned from the Royal Enclosure as part of an exercise to tighten up the rules on outfit code. This seems just a little misguided with so lots of the Royal Family frequently wearing them, particularly our wonderful Duchess of Cambridge who wears them therefore well. In the public grandstand however, it will be compulsory to use a fascinator or a hat.
One things for sure, they'll never disappear completely. As the older saying goes, If you want to get ahead, get yourself a hat.....or a fascinator!