Bride Chic: The History of the Tiara

Posted by Azure on October 2nd, 2009
About Bride Chic
Diamond and silver royal tiaras- where the marriage tiara came from

When Sarah Ferguson married Prince Andrew in 1986, she wore a wreath of flowers on her head as she processed down the aisle of Westminster Abbey. Once she emerged from the registry after signing the marriage certificate, she had changed into a tiara for the recessional. Sarah went to the altar as a young lady and emerged on her husband's arm a married woman. Her statement was simple: According to custom for last two hundred years, the tiara has been the official headpiece of married women, and, ahem, dowagers. So why do Miss America winners get to wear them? Maybe because tiaras, aka diadems have always been worn by nobility and very important people.

These jeweled crowns are as ancient as civilization itself. The earliest were found in the Greek/Roman world. Goldsmiths created them to crown the heads of statues of their Gods and priests. The Greeks also awarded them to Olympic champions, and higher-ups wore them to mark celebrated occasions. In Egypt the tiara was a symbol of respect to crown the heads of royal and noble mummies. Fast forward a few centuries and once the Bourbon monarchs returned after 1815, it spun off a real show of elaborate jewelry found in the tiaras of the French court. The British likewise made up some of the most memorable and stunning tiaras of the 19th Century. During this time tiaras became associated with weddings, ushering in the birth of the 'matrimonial tiara'.

The above photos and descriptions come from Mandy's Clockwise from top left...

- Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara: Queen Alexandra, the wife of King Edward VII, commissioned Garrard's to create this tiara in the style of a Russian peasant girl's headdress. Her sister Princess Dagmar, who had become Empress Marie of Russia, had a similar tiara which was the inspiration for the Kokoshnik.

It is composed of sixty-one platinum bars and filled with 488 diamonds. It is often worn by HM The Queen today.

- Queen Mary's "Girls of Great Britain & Ireland" tiara: This tiara was given to Princess May of Teck as a wedding gift. Lady Eve Greville's committee raised the money from "the girls of Great Britain and Ireland" for the tiara, which garnered more than £5000.

May, a German princess, was engaged to Prince George, son of King Edward VII. She would be known later in life as the formidable Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth II's mentor in all things royal.

- The Cambridge "Lover's Knot" tiara (bottom right)

- Tiara made by King George III for his wife, Queen Charlotte (bottom left)

Russia in the mid to late 19th century had a real Renaissance of jewelry designers. This group of artists brought us some of the most magnificent tiaras and settings imaginable. With the crowning of England's King Edward II in 1902 and King George V in 1911, new tiaras incorporating the royal jewels made history. The Paris Opera, became the epicenter for head chic with many a jeweled and plumed woman, strutting one-of-a-kind tiaras. At the turn of the 20th century, more tiaras were worn than ever before. By the 1920s they were still with us but had evolved as elaborate fashion statements worn on bobbed heads some as bandeaux and aigrettes.

The Great Audrey Hepburn donned the pageant tiara, the tiara we associate with brides today. She was somehow regal, whether faking it til she made it in Breakfast at Tiffany's, or the European aristocrat in Roman Holiday. Note how Audrey could wear these three very different tiaras in the roles she played.

For a further, deeper read on this fascinating subject check out, Tiaras, A History of Splendor by Geoffery C. Munn. He's written two books on tiaras, both with some stunning photos and surprising info . . . Photo Credits~

Photo 1: All tiaras via Mandy's

Photo 2 (clockwise from top left): 1920s tiara, Princess Margaret Rose wearing the Poltimore Tiara, Princess Grace of Monaco, Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's

Photo 3 (clockwise from top left): A contemporary tiara via True Blind Faith, Lady Liberty, the ultimate tiara wearer, Tiaras A History of Splendor, a contemporary tiara designed by Amy-Jo Tatum

Audrey Hepburn wears three different types of tiaras in My Fair Lady, Roman Holiday, and Breakfast a

Contemporary tiaras- what brides wear today when walking down the aisle

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