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The Historical Journey Of The Head Band From Ancient Greece to Prada SS19
The Historical Journey Of The Head Band From Ancient Greece to Prada SS19
27 th Jul 2019

Now that summer has finally arrived with it’s global warming effect heat waves and everything, it’s time to switch up your hair game as well.

Luxury design houses like Dior, Simone Rocha and Prada are pulling out all the stops to put the classic headgear back on the map for stylish women everywhere.

As models sashayed down the runway at Prada’s SS19 show, each look featuring a headband, it started the resurgence of the age-old accessory. Whether padded or pearly shell or black leather the ubiquitous headband made an immediate impact.

Headbands | Prada 1

Prada SS19 Show Featuring Models In Headbands

Headbands | Prada 2

Prada SS19 Show Featuring Models In Headbands

Before you start to write off this trend as yet another catwalk gimmick, it would be worth noting that even champions of traditional dressing like Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle have been partial to the headpiece in its many different forms. The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate has been seen sporting several different versions in her fashion journey. She’s worn a jewelled tiara like a headband for formal occasions but has also worn more youthful padded styles for daytime appearances. New royal family entrant and the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan has taken a more glittery approach to the hair accessory. Wearing a stunning diamond encrusted headband with a veil at her wedding and then another tiara style version with her hair down.

Headbands | Kate & Meghan

Kate Middleton & Meghan Markel In Different Headband Styles

The idea of repurposing jewellery to work as headbands can originally be credited to the unbelievably stylish Princess Diana who kicked off the trend by converting a diamond and emerald choker for a tour in Australia in 1985. She also styled the accessory for countless other occasions running the gamut between carefree days off to political rallies to heady after-dark events. There were jewelled headbands, padded velvet versions and even a mix of the two that featured prominently in Diana’s enviable wardrobe.

Headbands | Diana

Princess Diana In Different Headband Styles

The reference points for the timeless headpiece are varied and plentiful especially if we turn back the pages of time some more and check out the earliest depictions. Mesopotamian dames used the headband practically to keep their hair off their faces while Greek women and men adorned their hair with twirling wreaths. Lewis Caroll’s fictitious Alice who fell into wonderland did so wearing a delicate headband, which would forever be known as an Alice Band. It was even incarnated as a wrap with a history as long as it is complex showing up in faith based garb of religious meaning to Gloria Swanson lounging in her silk robes. The headband as medieval diadems, flower crowns and half turbans has been an eternal favourite not just for ancient civilisations but also for new age Coachella attendees.

Headband | Ancient Times

Headbands As Seen In Ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, Alice In Wonderland, Gloria Swanson & Coachella

As the 1920s rolled around the headband still found a place in plenty of iterations with women who were determined to leave to sartorial restrictions of the past behind and embrace a wild free spiritedness. Flappers with their headgear adorned with a sea of feathers atop beaded bands became the IT girls of the Gatsby Era. Followed by silent movie stars like Louise Banks who accentuated their fashionably cropped hair with thick wrap style headbands.

The 1930s saw Coco Chanel take away the formality of the headband by giving it an effortless twist worn with belted white trousers. A practical solution that persevered and was even more pronounced in Second World War torn 1940s that saw women joining the work force in large numbers. In a time of fabric rationing and professional requirement emerged Rosie the Riverter in her polka dotted headband professing ‘We Can Do It’. Her headband advertised as water repellent, washable and dust proof.

Post war the headband got back to its original decorative roots as a new wave of ultra feminine fashion became the norm. Brigitte Bardot often wore a wide headband adding an immaculate touch to an elaborate beehive. While Grace Kelly played the royal princess in a delicate headband worn with shiny and coiffed tresses.

Headband | 1920s to 1930s

Headbands As Seen On Flappers, Louise Banks, Coco Chanel, Rosie The Riverter, Brigitte Bardot & Grace Kelly

Audrey Hepburn’s headbands with bows were a complete contrast from Diana Ross’ pleated styles with flat wraps and yet both versions were in vogue at the same time. Jackie Kennedy took the in-between route with her bright pink headband with sculptural pleats on her state visit to India. Party girls Sharon Tate and Bianca Jagger also put their own individual mark on their respective headbands. While Sharon went for the flower child boho princess vibe, Bianca favoured metallics and opulent head wraps for her hedonistic Studio 54 nights out.

Headbands | 1930s to 1950s

Headbands As Seen On Audrey Hepburn, Diana Ross, Jackie Kennedy, Sharon Tate & Bianca Jagger

The headband isn’t just a fashion accessory as many sports stars have also succumbed to its pragmatic charms. As far back as 1920s, tennis star Suzanne Lenglen was seen in a headband that was brought back by the legendary Bjorn Borg in his famous terrycloth style. The popularity of fitness videos saw the likes of Cher and Olivia Newton John spark off some inspirational looks with brightly coloured headbands to offset the spandex neon leggings and leotards. In more recent memory who could forget David Beckham’s early days where he stole hearts and goals with his hair slicked back in a headband and that mischievous grin.

Headbands | Sports

Headbands As Seen On Suzzane Lenglen, Bjorn Borg, Cher, Olivia Newton John & David Beckham

Politics and pop culture weren’t too far behind in their own adoption of the headband. Hilary Clinton brought back Jackie O’s Alice Band in the early 1990s and 2000s as she stepped into the same role of FLOTUS. While the character of Selma Blair who was modelled on Hilary also wore similar headbands. Preppy high school drama and cult classic Clueless saw Alicia Silverstone in multiple headbands. Years later they were seen on Leighton Meester as Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl whose character was heavily inspired by Alicia’s. The Upper East Side brat quickly became the queen of venomous verbal jabs and designer headbands reinventing the accessory once again. 

Headbands | Politics & Movies

Headbands As Seen On Hilary Clinton, Selma Blair, Alicia Silverstone & Leighton Meester




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