Are you fascinated by the fascinator trend worn by royals (and those who love them)? Are you still looking at photos from Kate’s wedding 7 years ago and dreaming of what type of headwear Meghan Markle and guests will be wearing come May 19th and beyond? Coming off of the headwear-rich Kentucky Derby and heading into next week’s Royal Wedding, fascinators are a most fascinating topic. ACCESSORIES caught up with hat designer and millinery expert Genevieve Foddy of Genevieve Rose Atelier for some insights:
What is the background of the fascinator?
The name fascinator dates back to the 17th century when stylish and influential women such a Marie Antoinette began to wear elaborate hair ornaments such as expensive and exotic ostrich feathers. However the fascinator trend that we think of nowadays finds its roots in the last 50 years of fashion. The wearing of proper hats had largely died away by the 1960s and 70s, following a range of huge cultural changes, decreased dress formality and preference for more natural hairstyles. By the 1990s a new trend was emerging whereby a small headpiece or hat could be added to an outfit for a special occasion without reverting to old-fashion formality of dress or hairstyle. Championed largely by British star milliners Philip Treacy and Stephen Jones and widely adopted by younger European royalty and aristocracy, this trend has continued to gain wide popularity around the world.
Royal weddings, and subsequent royal events, have always turned attention to hats. How much did Kate’s wedding spark fascinator trends?
I was living in the UK at the time of Kate and William’s wedding and I think the fabulous fascinators seen on their wedding guests definitely helped to cement a trend that had already been growing for some time. Women watching the royal wedding could see that a fascinator represented a fun and approachable way to add a special touch to a formal outfit without the commitment of a whole large hat. In the UK it is now very much appropriate for women to wear a headpiece to any formal event such as a wedding, christening or to the races.
How much did the trend cross over to America?
In the USA I don’t think the trend for fascinators has caught on to the same extent… yet. While there is a strong tradition of hat wearing to the Derby, and there are certainly ladies planning on wearing headpieces to viewing parties, and increasingly brides, mothers-of-brides and the occasional wedding guest will wear a headpiece, it is not to the same extent as in the UK or Australia. This is something I hope very much will change after Meghan and Harry’s wedding!
Meghan Markle is an “unconventional” royal to be. Will the fascinator trends be different this time around?
Meghan and Harry are very keen to present themselves as relaxed, modern and open, and indeed given Harry’s greater distance from succession, they are able to be more unconventional in comparison to William and Kate. That said this is still an official royal wedding and the dress code does clearly state ‘day dress with hat’ so I think we will see plenty of proper hats and headpieces on their guests. Likewise I would be very surprised if Meghan swapped a traditional veil for a bridal headpiece, although with luck she might wear a less formal dress and hair accessory for their afternoon celebrations.
Are you hearing about a lot of viewing parties, either in private homes or in restaurants/stores?
I am completely surprised and delighted by how much positive attention the royal wedding is getting in the USA! And I’m thrilled to hear how many Americans are planning a viewing party themselves. I am Australian by birth (where the Queen is still our head of state) and spent many years living in the UK so I am a life-long avid royal watcher myself and will be hosting a viewing party complete with Victoria Sponge, Pimms and, of course, headpieces.