"Tiaras," according to the sumptuous book by Geoffrey Munn, "have always inspired a great fascination and the most beautiful and influential women have been painted, photographed and admired whilst wearing them."
Historically, tiaras have been worn by royalty as crown jewels, by high society for those famed costume balls, and by brides as regal headpieces—whether made of real gemstones set in gold and platinum, or paste or rhinestones in pot metal. "Even in the twenty-first century they are still worn and continue to inspire special poise and elegance," the author and famous curator continues in Tiaras: A History of Splendour.
|Kate's heirloom Windsor tiara|
During this year of royal weddings of all sorts, we saw tiaras to match! Of course there was "Kate the Great" (aka Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge) who wore a rather modest—as diadems go—heirloom tiara with historical significance for her grand, yet intimate wedding to Prince William of Great Britain. It suited her refined, feminine gown and her personal style of simple elegance.
|Princess Charlene & |
Prince Albert II
Then there was former Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock who became a princess this summer when she married Prince Albert II in fabled, glamorous Monaco wearing an unusual "tiara" that wasn't. The Prince had commissioned famous jewelers around the world to submit a possible tiara design as a gift for his lovely bride-to-be to wear on their wedding day. The dazzling winner was by Lorenz Bäumer of
Paris: an asymmetrical spray—"evoking a spray thrown off a crashing wave," as Associated Press writer Jenny Barchfield described—"in white gold and nearly 60 karats worth of diamonds" meant to symbolize the bride's love for the sea and also to honor her new Mediterranean home and its people.
|Charlene's unusual diamond "tiara"|
Yet it was worn at the nape of the neck, nestled in the bride's sleek blonde up-do. Beautiful with her embroidered tulle veil and off-the-shoulder silk duchesse, hand-beaded couture gown and fifteen-foot train, but was it a "tiara"? Breaking with royal protocol, did the more personal style make her less princess-ey?
The same weekend, a "princess" of the fashion world married amidst lots of Vogue-style publicity. Iconic supermodel Kate Moss wed near her English home in the Cotswolds and the royalty of fashion turned out. In a diaphanous, beaded slip-of-a-thing floor-length designer gown, Kate was more free-spirited with her vintage style veil worn over her long loose, curly hair. No tiara, but her look actually was reminiscent of the original tiaras and crowns!
|Kate Moss with husband & wedding party|
The first "tiaras" would have been made from nature—wreaths of entwined flowers and herbs. "In the ancient world," wrote Munn, "the victorious were crowned with the laurel wreaths of Apollo, and the newly wed with myrtle, sacred to Aphrodite. Today, with our humble wreaths of daisy chains, the custom continues." Therefore the dozen or so happy little girls in cream shifts and circlets of fresh flowers in their hair who surrounded Kate Moss as part of her wedding party—as well as Kate Middleton's four flower-girls in pouffy ivory-colored dresses wearing botanical wreaths—were like the original "crowned" fairy princesses...goddesses all!
|Kate Middleton's young attendants|
Once ancient artisans began replicating nature in precious, malleable gold thousands of years ago, more permanent crowns were created. Then tiaras encrusted with rare gemstones were not far behind—and the appeal of being a princess probably increased!
|Crown Princess |
Victoria of Sweden
Although Princess Charlene's more subtle "tiara" may have been questionable (and you never want to upstage the bride), but the ones worn to her post-wedding dinner and gala by a striking parade of foreign princesses did not fail to dazzle!
Want to feel like a princess? Grab your tiara! ~