September 5, 2011

Reprint {Tiaras & the Real Princesses}

[My article, Tiaras & the Real Princesses, has been published in the fall issue of Season magazine, featuring the July wedding of Charlene Wittstock to Prince Albert II in Monaco. Click the link, then click on the cover image, then scroll to pages 55-57.]

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 were worn as crown jewels, for costume balls, and by brides as regal headpieces—whether made of real gemstones set in gold and platinum or rhinestones in pot metal. “Even in the 21st century they are still worn and continue to inspire special poise and elegance,” the author shares in Tiaras: A History of Splendour.

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—Windsor heirloom tiara for her grand, yet intimate wedding to Prince William.

In July, former Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock became a princess when she married Prince Albert II in fabled, glamorous Monaco wearing an unusual “tiara” that wasn’t! The Prince had commissioned jewelers around the world to submit a tiara design for his bride-to-be to wear on their wedding day. The dazzling winner was by Lorenz Bäumer of Paris: an asymmetrical spray in white gold and nearly 60 karats worth of diamonds symbolizing the bride’s love for the sea and also honoring her new Mediterranean home. Yet it was worn at the nape of the neck, nestled in the bride’s sleek blonde up-do. Beautiful with her tulle veil and off-the-shoulder silk duchesse couture gown, 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 slip-of-a-thing designer gown, Kate wore no tiara over her long loose hair, but her vintage, free-spirited look was reminiscent of original tiaras and crowns.

The first “tiaras” were 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.” Therefore the dozen or so little girls in Kate Moss’ wedding party wearing cream shifts and circlets of fresh flowers in their hair—as well as Kate Middleton’s four flower-girls in pouffy ivory dresses and botanical wreaths—were like the original “crowned” fairy princesses…goddesses all!

Once ancient artisans began creating tiaras encrusted with rare gemstones, the appeal of being a princess probably increased! Princess Charlene’s more subtle “tiara” may have been questionable (and you never want to upstage the bride) but ones worn to her post-wedding gala by a striking parade of foreign princesses did not fail to dazzle!

Want to feel like a princess? Grab your tiara! ~

1 comment:

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