New Britain City Journal

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Business Feature

Princess Kate Brings Back Fascinators

As Kate Middleton and Prince William say their “I do’s” an old style is becoming in fashion again.

Perhaps, you have seen a “Fascinator” on the head of the new Princess.

“Fascinators have been worn for centuries in lieu of hats, primarily in the evening for dances and cotillions,” said Susan Whicher of New Britain who makes the headwear. “They are therefore generally worn on the right front of the head, so as not to interfere with one’s close-dancing partner. Having him sneezing into your feathers is probably not the desired effect of your wearing one.”

Susan Whicher
Whicher is making them by the dozens.

“I used to make prom dresses during the 50’s and 60’s—what we then referred to as ball gowns. I always made hair ornaments to match from the dress fabric and bits of trim,” said Whicher. “It is such fun to be making them again. With the special events of Easter, the Royal Wedding, the Kentucky Derby and Mothers’ Day, we have a perfect storm of excuses to wear Fascinators.”

Wikipedia, says, “Modern fascinators are commonly made with feathers, flowers and/or beads”.

In the United States they have sometimes been referred to as Whimsies.

Fascinators are not just headbands with flowers and bows. Real fascinators are home-made and one-of-a-kind.

“I make them from fabric, lace, trim, feathers, birds and beads. Many are fastened to headbands, some are on hair clips or hair combs, the smallest ones are on bobby pins,” she said. “They vary from shy and subtle to large and statement-making.”

The Fascinators sell for $7.50-$12 as presented at a craft show. They cost $15-20 if they are made to order.

Whicher’s creations are all stitched by hand and last several seasons if stored respectfully.

“A story I heard, but have not verified, is that Fascinators got the name because they traditionally include an element which moves with the air currents–and thus fascinates the eye,” said Whicher.

So why is a Fascinator better than a hat?

“Hats are often hot and uncomfortable. Not everyone looks good in a full-sized hat. They have to be sized to fit a particular head or hairstyle. They are expensive–especially if they are custom-made. A hat can hide the wearer’s face,” said Whicher. “If the wearer wishes to attract that stranger across a crowded room then a hat can be a serious drawback. A Fascinator, or other hair ornament, can be worn in a different manner with different outfits, and thus is very flexible. A Fascinator only enhances, never obscures.”

Whicher will be selling Fascinators at The Bethany Covenant Church Craft Show in Berlin on Saturday for anyone interested in purchasing one.