Nfld. & Labrador

Fascinator fascination? Tiny hats loom large for royal wedding watchers

A fashion trend among royal family buffs in recent years is fascinators, which are those little hats popularized by the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.

Royal watcher Crystal Rose says headdress roared into mainstream after Prince William's 2011 wedding

Crystal Rose, fascinator aficionado and royal superfan, poses during her interview on CBC Radio's Corner Brook Morning Show. (Brian McHugh/CBC)

Millions of people will watch Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding this Saturday, including those who will tune in specifically to check out the high fashion of those in attendance.

One of the fashion trends among Royal Family buffs that's seen a huge resurgence in recent years is fascinators, which are those little hats populaized by the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.

Kate Middleton wears a fascinator hairpiece. Sales in the hat alternative rose by 65 per cent following her wedding to Prince William in 2011. (Phil Noble/Getty)

"The main different between a fascinator and a hat is that they do have a fastener of some type, so they're actually attached to the head," fascinator aficionado and royal superfan Crystal Rose told the Corner Brook Morning Show.

"They're smaller than a hat, worn on the front or right side of the head and usually very whimsically decorated."

Rose shows off some of the nearly 20 fascinators she has bought in recent years. (Brian McHugh/CBC)

The decorations could include feathers, pearls, rhinestones and fake flowers, and can be attached to the head with a headband, clip or even a comb that goes through the hair.

What's old is new again

According to Rose, fascinators have been around since the 1950s, but only entered the mainstream in 2011 when Prince William married Kate Middleton, who's often seen in public with one of the tiny hats atop her royal head.

Princess Diana wore them too, but not to the same extent as Middleton.

"They're really favoured by the younger royals and a lot of the younger members of the aristocracy in England," Rose said.

A white lace fascinator, one of a seemingly infinite amount of designs the headwear can take. (Source: elizabethannedesigns.com)

"They think of a hat as more old fashioned. You know, the Queen wears hats and so a lot of the younger people like Kate Middleton were wearing fascinators and really popularized them."

Little hats, big price

As with most royal fashions, fascinators worn by those who stroll the halls of Buckingham Palace often come with a hefty price tag.

Milliners, professional hat makers, used by the Royal Family can get more than $10,000 for some of their custom made fascinators — but Rose's collection is a little more modest than that.

Instead of hitting up the top designers in London, Rose instead goes to more modest shops when she's travelling and has built up a collection of nearly 20 since her first one in 2011.

Kate Middleton has helped to popularize fascinators in recent years. (WIkipedia/Creative Commons)

While Rose does indeed have a wedding watch party planned for early Saturday morning, these days she will wear her fascinators anytime the opportunity presents itself.

"A fascinator is acceptable usually any place where a hat is required for the dress code. But it's perfectly acceptable to wear a fascinator to high tea, to a daytime reception — I've worn them to restaurants," she said.

"I love the tradition of wearing hats and fascinators. I think that's what really draws me to them, it reminds me of another era."
 

With files from Corner Brook Morning Show