Great Moments in Fascinator History

Princess Beatrice at the royal wedding. Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Modern-day fascinators are confounding accessories: Unlike traditional hats, they offer few practical benefits (coverage from sun exposure, for example) and also require feats of engineering to get them to rest askew on the temple just so. Yet, they remain an essential component for any outfit worn at a horse race or royal wedding, as well as the quirk-signifier of choice for sartorial unicorns like Sarah Jessica Parker and Shoshanna on Girls.

The British royals remain somewhat possessive of the style — it’s hard to think of anyone who’s worn more pancake hats or fluffy forehead pieces than Kate Middleton — yet that hasn’t scared away eager adopters like Lady Gaga and Paris Hilton. Click through the slideshow for a look at the most memorable fascinator moments in recent history — including Isabella Blow, Victoria Beckham, and, of course, Princess Beatrice’s hat seen ‘round the world.