Awhile back a client came in wanting a drop veil (aka the mantilla) not because she was getting married but going through the ritual of converting to Catholicism. Once she walked into my studio with the just purchased laces and we discussed her design in greater depth, I realized this is one headpiece that evolved from a remarkable history worth posting about.
The mantilla originated in the warmer climates of Spain circa 1700. Lace versions were chic through the 17th and 18th centuries and you can find them in portraits by Velazquez and Goya. By the 19th century, Queen Isabel II encouraged wearing the mantilla. However, after her death the fashion for wearing them died down and by 1900 mantillas were the head chic reserved only for special events like Holy week, weddings and funerals.
The mantilla is usually cut on a circle of lace or tulle and bordered with lace trim around the edges. The traditional mantilla, originating as the Spanish mantilla, is oval shaped and worn at the top of the head, held onto the head with pins or attached to a head piece.