Today 5 July – it’s all about the headband. I was buying some presents for a very special little girl when I came across a very cute netting and sequinned headband in champagne, wonderful deep blue and rose gold. It immediately spoke to me. Others might think it was saying – “Buy me I’m a Headband” But to me it was saying “Buy me, I am a wrapping embellishment that you can also use as a headband – a gift on a gift!”
I wore the odd headband and tortoise shell slide when I was at university. Photos of that period confirm it was in fact odd, Hillary Clinton odd. But I am not adverse to admiring headbands on others – because when it works, it really works.
And so began my visual and historical journey this day to find out all about headband, which I believe is a subset of hair jewelry or hair ornaments and which I further believe have been around since the beginning of time when bits of bone and teeth were used to fashion decorations for their necks, hands, ears and hair. Think Flintstones, think Pebbles.
The list of hair ornaments is a long one – headbands, pins, combs, slides, barettes, rings, nets, the snood, feathers, jewllery, elastics and the much maligned scrunchie.
According to the article Headband Histories, it all started with the Greeks and the Romans who wore wreaths of leaves on ceremonial or festive occasions and sporting conquests. Soon wreaths were upgraded from leaves to precious metals such as gold, silver and gold-plated metals, even gilded woods that gave the appearance of myrtle, oak, olive or ivy leaves. Wreaths were eventually worn in processions, dedicated by Holy Men, worn by the bride and groom in some societies and buried with the dead. In the Middle Ages young women wore wreaths of gold which eventually evolved into chaplets.
Historians also believe that hairbands have slowly taken shape from scarves that were worn around the head or were modified from the band of hats that tied under the chin.
Which leads me to the major distinction in headbands. They are either hard (faux tortoise, acrylics, plastics, metals or ) or soft (silks, satins, seqins, leather, ribbons, or elasticy stretchy materials).
Both hard and soft headbands cycle in and out of fashion and no one knows quite why. In the 1920’s headbands exploded onto the fashion scene when the feathered and sequined headband quickly became the defining look The Great Gatsby era. Catherine Martin didn’t miss an opportunity to go big on the headband, collaborating with Tiffany’s for the statement pieces in the Baz’s Gatsby interpretation. You can even sign up for the 1920’s Style Guide Series from Vintage Dancer if you want to learn more (a lot more) about stunning bejeweled headbands.
In the nineties, the Creative Director of Bumble & Bumble known by the enigmatic single name Ward, started a trend of bra straps as headbands. The Wall Street Journal reports he wanted to use something more intriguing than plastic barrettes at the April 1998 Moschino fashion show in Milan. Yes…well with hindsight I can see the imperative to act quickly there. The models liked the bands so much they took them home, and Harper’s Bazaar magazine wrote about the look. Then celebrities including a pre Goop Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Love Hewitt were photographed wearing them and the look really took off. That’s how it works darlings.
These days , fashion headbands are usually worn by females though the men are more than ably represented – I give you David Beckham, AFL players, and any number of fashion forward basketballing sports stars and Wimbledon hopefuls (the colour of said headband as we know from last week’s post actually breaking Wimbledon’s own attire guidelines). Headbands are a big bridal look, a fashion statement and a cute addition to a little person ensemble.
I have decided that headbands are now the height of wrapping fashion. I wrapped my little girl gift in a beautiful rose gold paper from Vandoros called Harmony. I love this paper as it can be used for so many occasions. I then simply added the headband and viola! We have a very pretty look and an embellishment that is a gift as well. AND you don’t have to worry about tying the perfect bow. I am still pondering how I can use a faux tortoise shell headband with teeth as an embellishment – but I am not worried…if a bra strap headband can go viral, so can a headband gift wrap.