Fascinators back on top

Posted: May 31, 2012

Wedding headpieces have taken a fascinating turn.

Instead of donning tiaras, brides are choosing whimsical accessories like jeweled feathers to place in a mess of curls or a gleaming headband to push back a pixie.

"Headpieces — or fascinators — are sooo big with brides right now," said Patricia A. Grooms, owner of Vows Timeless Bridal Millinery on Fourth Street. "There is a lot of interest in them now because they look great with period dresses that reflect fashions from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s.

Fascinators weren’t really a part of Americans’ modern fashion lexicon until we saw guests at last year’s royal wedding looking oh-so-stylish in bold hats complementing soft-hued, vintage-style suits. Trend watchers predicted fascinators would make their way into our daily wardrobe, but you rarely walk down Walnut Street and see one.

This year, however, as brides seek edgier, more personalized looks with their vintage gowns, they are going for drama — easily achievable with a beaded cloche or with sterling silver twisted vines to climb up a French twist.

“It gives the Old-World look a very sophisticated styling," said Catalina Maddox-Wagers, fashion director at Conshohocken-based David’s Bridal. "Headpieces have been making appearances at weddings for as long as there have been nuptials. But we haven’t seen this kind of interest with bridal millinery since the 1980s.

“They were just so over-the-top back then," said Grooms, 61, who started her business in 1987.

In the next decade, headpieces would become smaller and smaller. By the late 1990s, they morphed into twinkling tiaras and then they disappeared almost completely when brides just attached veils with combs. In 2005, headpieces started making a slow comeback with brides, but they still sat on the small side.

Then in 2008, when Carrie Bradshaw anxiously awaited Mr. Big at their ill-fated Sex and the City wedding, stylist Patricia Field perched a teal bird on Sarah Jessica Parker’s head. The darned thing nearly chirped, but women got their first peek at a cool vintage possibility.

Shortly after, Grooms said, she began to see an uptick in orders.

These days brides are wearing the fascinators alone or with chin-length veils called birdcage blushers. Business is going well, Grooms said.

It’s looking as if haute headpieces are on their way to becoming huge again — in hype and height.

Contact Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704 or ewellington@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @ewellingtonphl. Read her blog, "Mirror Image," at philly.com/mirrorimage.

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