Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Hats And Fascinators

I like hats. And if I were a lady and going to Aintree I would insist on wearing one. Preferably with a wide brim. Hats, perhaps more than any other item of clothing, make a statement about the role you're playing or playing at playing in life. Depending on the styling they announce, "Today I'm being a medieval peasant/cavalier/pirate/highwayman/Marie Antoinette/Victorian villain/flapper/Vita Sackville-West/John Steed off The Avengers/HRH The Queen Mother." Hats are so cool. I only wish I had the nerve to wear bigger and better ones.

But most of the ladies who are actually going to Aintree this weekend won't be wearing hats. Ailz and I were scrolling through the dozens of candid snaps in The Mail of racegoers posturing, flirting, eating sandwiches and bending over and showing their knickers- and almost all of these ladies on display were wearing fascinators. I don't hate fascinators, but...

I looked into their history- and it turns out they don't have much of one. The Victorians had things they called fascinators but they turn out to be lacy caps which fasten under the chin- and so nothing like the extravagant creations of today. Those seem first to have come into vogue in the 1990s. I associate them, perhaps unfairly, with the Duke of York's notoriously frivolous daughters.

Unlike the hat- the fascinator is purely decorative. It's not going to keep off the rain or save you from sunstroke. It suggests no role except that of social butterfly. It can be spectacular but it has no heft to it- no bottom, no past. When the wind blows high a proper hat flies off or bowls along the ground whereas a fascinator simply disintegrates.

Talking about butterflies, I see from the Aintree pictures, that people have started wearing them on the heels of their shoes. Now, that's rather good fun...
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