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A year ago Accessory Magazine called oversized cocktail rings with stretch bands the sleeper item of the year. What fashion accessory will have that distinction this year?   Fascinators certainly have to be in the running.  These hair accessories took off like wildfire after the royal wedding. 



The history of fascinators is rather unique in fashion accessories.  They come in to fashion and go out in cycles that are separated by spans of several years.  So each time they come into fashion, a new generation of buyers sees them as entirely new even though they have sprung into fashion and then resided several times over the last 250 years. 


Whenever hair styles are piled high, hats don’t work and fascinators come into fashion.  Remember those pictures from history showing massive hair-dos during the 1700s.  Well there’s a famous picture of Marie Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI, wearing a fascinator in a high hair-do. 


The most recent rise in fascinator popularity is the 1960s.  Along with cocktail hats, these hair ornaments were the style, but most of today’s consumers were not on the scene during that trend, so fascinators seem like an entirely new item to them.    



The novelty of fascinators has a universal appeal to women of all age groups.  Celebrities wearing these hair ornaments certainly has impact on the younger market.  Fascinators are enjoying a rising popularity as prom accessories as well as bridal.  White or ivory fascinators can even replace the tiara and veil of the bride, but more often they are worn at showers preceding the big day or at receptions by the bride.


This year, look for women of all ages wearing fascinators at derbies and gala events.  The Kentucky Derby is the hat show of the year and you expect fascinators to make a strong showing.     


The frenzy for fascinators caught the industry off guard so supply is low and demand high.  This is spawning a cottage industry of artists creating these hair accessories.  Designs incorporate lace, crystals, ribbon, feathers, and other components like sinamay.



Sinamay fascinators are harder to find and are usually pricier.  Philippine sinamay is the best quality and these designs can be exceptional with miniature top hats, sinamay bows with feathers, Ruffles of sinamay with protruding feathers, or large sinamay disks decorated with feathers and ribbon.


The starting point is a base that attaches the hair ornaments to the hair.  This can be a solid fabric base with clips like firm felt, or a smaller metal disk with clips.  Combs and headbands are also used.


Sinamay is much harder to work with when creating designs, so the cottage industry of unique fascinators usually prefers lace, crystals, horsehair, feathers, and ribbons.  Dot netting is often part of the design to add that sophisticated look of lace over the eyes—something that was so common in the sixties, but has nearly become extinct before the recent advent of fascinators. 



So how long will the trend continue?  One factor that can knock out a trend is over-supply and that definitely isn’t happening in a market where most consumers can’t even find fascinators.  Another determining factor is innovation.  Innovation is the driving force that keeps trends moving.  Even with limited supply, innovation is constantly renewing the fascinator market.  All the artists involved in the cottage industry are a big help here.  Finally, the media.  As long as fashion magazines, bridal publications, and celebrity shows continue to promote fascinators, this trend has legs.  So if you’re in the fashion retail business, get on board while demand is high and supply low.     


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