Kokoshnik – is a traditional Russian headdress worn by women and young girls to accompany the historical sarafan-dress. The first kokoshnik appeared in the 10th century in ancient Russia. Its popularity spread out quickly, between the 16th -19th centuries and to this day the headdress is an important feature of the Russian dance ensembles’ costume and folk culture in general.
The word “kokoshnik” first appeared in the 16th century and is derived from the Old Slavic word “kokosh”, which stands for “a hen or a cockerel”. The headdress went through a proper transformation, at certain point it was not a full out high hat, but a diadem-shaped tiara. It became part of the official court dress for royalty. Those “crowns” were inspired in their turn by the Italian Renaissance fashions.
There were times when any woman could wear a kokoshnik, no matter which social status she possessed. The difference between styling the hair in a certain way to be able to hide it under the kokoshnik or letting the hair loose to be thrown over the shoulder or along the back behind the kokoshnik – was long forgotten. However, originally it was known to be a statement and a sign – whether a woman was married or single. If the woman was hiding her hair under a kokoshnik it meant that she was taken.
In the 19th century kokoshnik was considered a special clothing piece for the noble women and was even turned into a wedding head-dress for queens around the world. Which in its turn, inspired many designers such as Cartier, to create tiaras shaped a little bit like kokoshniks.
Nowadays, kokoshniks are worn by women and performers of the Russian dance ensembles as well as Snegurochkas (Father Frost’s granddaughter) during the New Year parties.
There are many styles and sizes of kokoshniks. One can say with certainty, that there have been many takes on this traditional Russian head-dress by the world famous designers - they would create true pieces of art, decorated with Swarovski crystals, gem stones, pearls, intricate embroidery, braids and much more.Any woman needs to feel like a queen sometimes. So why not dress up like one for the next party and why not put on a headpiece resembling a royal crown –for example, a large thick headband – kokoshnik-inspired!