I would love to say that I’m cool enough to have known about fascinators prior to Friday, April 29th 2011 at approximately 5:00 am EST (peek guest arrival time for the Royal Wedding), but I can’t. I absolutely, positively had never even HEARD the term before. I hope I’m not the only one who feels this way 🙂
Since this was my week at Wardrobe Wednesday, I felt like it was my duty to help pass along as much information as possible about the wonderful world of fascinators. Since I clearly don’t know squat – other than they look adorable and would be PERFECT additions to a photo shoot wardrobe – I needed to find someone who had experience in this area. Enter Stephanie Albao of A Vintage Vibe. She’s here to get us all up to speed on fascinators – AND – she has a very special shop discount for WW fans. Be sure to check out the details at the bottom of the post!
Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed the trend of many of my clients being interested in and asking for a vintage or retro-style portraiture. I’m the owner of Intuitive Images Photography – a lifetsyle and portrait photography business in Orange County, CA. I threw myself into that request, and now do many retro style sessions, including Pin-Up sessions.
In styling these sessions, I looked for the appropriate accessories and hair pieces that were able to look vintage and modern at the same time – and came up with nothing. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of hair accessory options out there – but unless you can search for and find true vintage pieces, it’s difficult to find accessories that really are a true nod to the era that still work in a modern setting.
So, I partnered with my good friend and avid swing dancer, Claire Pedroza, and we started creating. Using actual vintage hats and accessories (of which Claire has an extensive collection) as inspiration, we began assembling materials from as far away as London to put together quality pieces. (For those of you who have looked, birdcage veil material is nearly impossible to find stateside!)
Our best sellers right now are our custom fascinators. As you know, the world was captivated by the Royal Wedding, and Americans were in awe of the incredible head pieces the guests wore. From simple to outrageous, fascinators can be anything you want them to be. They started in the UK in the 18th century, when women’s hairstyles were still only updos, and the Royal family began declaring hats as a wardrobe requirement to social functions for the upper class. Well, with such elaborate hairdos, how could one place a hat over it? The answer was fascinators (although that term didn’t gain popularity for decades). In the 40’s and 50’s they were called “cocktail hats”and women wore them for everything from parties to grocery shopping. (Did everything from that era have the word “cocktail” in it?)
Fascinators are basically just a felt or woolen base, with adornments on top. The base is secured to your hair either by bobby pins (the old-fashioned way) or a clip or comb is attached to the underside. With bobby pins, you would slide the pin over the edge of the felt base and secure the under part of the pin to your hair. A Vintage Vibe can also attach an alligator clip or small comb to the underside, so it would be very easy to just slide it into a small section of hair or open the clip with one hand and slide it in. It really depends on the size and style of the fascinator, but you can either wear your hair all up, and just clip it to the upper side of your head, sort of on an angle, or you could style your hair half up and half down. They look best when worn at about a 45 degree angle on the top of your head, as if defying gravity. You’d be amazed at how well they stay on! They are generally very light, and the bases are curved to conform to your head, so they’re incredibly easy to wear, as well as being uber fashionable.
In fact, they can have an even deeper meaning! In the UK, their feathers and designs were traditionally a way to show your social status, your marital status, or even your political affiliation. These days, they can display your worldly style, or your affinity for Lady Gaga. In the South, it is still acceptable to wear hats to church on Sundays, and many stylish women choose fascinators. They can be the perfect accessory for social events, bridal showers, weddings, and even some of the more understated designs can be worn every day – out to dinner or on a date. But I find that right now, they are also incredibly successful in portraits.
When you have your portrait taken, you want to style yourself in a way that speaks to who you are, but maybe just an amped-up version of how you present yourself every day. In order to take your own wardrobe to the next level, accessories are key! A chunky necklace, a layered scarf, or a beautiful satin flower in your hair can make a huge difference. After all, who doesn’t like to play dress up?
(Photo above courtesy of Latasha Haynes Photography in Washington)
Thank you, Stephanie!
You can find A Vintage Vibe on Etsy and Facebook. If you have a minute, I highly suggest you check out her work. Maybe send her some love on Facebook. If you have any other questions about fascinators, I’m sure she’ll help you out!
Also, Stephanie is giving EVERYONE 25% off their next item in the Vintage Vibe Etsy shop from now until June 1st. Just use the coupon code WARWED. This even includes a custom fascinator (yes, totally custom) for only $40 – and that’s before the discount! Just think of all the weddings, showers and fabulous garden parties you have lined up this summer – not to mention photo shoots. Go there in style!