Made originally bound foliage and flowers, and later with metal, origins of a number of tiaras still in existence lie with the old royal families of Europe , and as such play their own part in history, some serve as reminders of live shattered by revolution or personal misfortune. Others, sometimes of quite humble origins, speak of victory and happiness, or bear intimate messages of love, they have acquired their own importance from their original owners and occasions they were worn.
In the evolution of its design, the Tiara tells its own social and cultural history. It has adapted to changes in both fashion and society and survived. Tiaras may have been inconspicuous in recent years but their future is in good hands. It is after all the designers with their breathtaking beautiful creations who understand the Tiara's potential, knowing that nothing else can make a woman feel as special as these elegant and dramatic jewels.
The origin of Tiaras takes us back to 331 BC .According to Legend it was Greek God Dionysus who invented the head ornament we call the diadem. Greek craftsmen were extremely skillful in exploiting golds malleability and translating flower head dresses into everlasting jewel fashioned from gleaming yellow metal. The word Tiara is actually Persian, the name first denoted the high peaked head dresses of Persian kings, now it is used to describe almost every form of head ornament. There are traces in history to prove that gold wreaths of laurel leaves and berries are worn by both men and women to symbolize the hope of triumph over death.
As Christianity became popular the trend of Tiaras had decreased a ceased due to many complex reasons such that the references to the ancient world carried associations of immorality and libertinism. After centuries in 18th century, due to 2 main reasons, first being the rise of neo- classism movement. All decorative artists and craftsmen were driven by new ideas and enthusiasm. Secondly, Napoleon Bonaparte had crowned himself as emperor, he and his Empress Josephine were anxious in establishing a new decorative scheme that would uplift his Imperial status. Tiaras were now ready to take its place as a fashionable part of modern dresses, and were adopted by ladies of society with genuine commitment and enthusiasm.
When we talk about the evolution of Tiaras it is very important to discuss how it was used as a powerful symbol in a social custom now and then that is crowning a bride with a tiara on her wedding day. Her head dress signifies the loss of innocence and the triumph of love, and has played an integral part in nuptial ceremonies, in many traditions and many cultures, for thousands of years. In England, the custom of wearing jeweled head ornaments at weddings was well established by the end of 15 century. By this time, crowns were no longer seen as the exclusive privilege of royalty but as a symbol of dignity and joy of wedlock, and sometimes precious metal circlets were given just to mark a betrothal. For the vast majority of modern women, their wedding is probably the only occasion they would be able to wear a tiara without the fear of looking incongruous. Such an opportunity would be eagerly anticipated s the Tiara, the most elegant and dramatic piece of jewel has the unique ability to make a bride feel and look the center of attraction. It is her endorsement of her status as queen of the day.
Even the humblest of the wedding suppliers carries a varied range of jeweled head ornaments. The choice of stone sis equally important as according to the ancient lore of the lapidary, different stones carry different meaning. Flowers too carry a variety of symbolic messages.
In the language of flowers, acorn stands for fecundity, Daisy for innocence, forget me not for true love, Ivy for marriage, Laurel for triumph of love, Mistletoe for a kiss, Oak for invisibility and strength, Rose for every aspect of love, thistle flower for the pleasure and pain of love, Pansy for the think of the giver. Similarly different gemstones were used to denote different emotions and feelings like an amethyst stood for Devotion, a diamond meant forever, Emerald for Hope, Moonstone for innocence, Pearl for Love, Ruby for passion and Turquoise for Remembrance and true love. Many families uphold a long standing tradition by which the bride wears a particular family tiara. In doing so she marks her transition from one domestic role to another and she is not likely to have use of it again. Even simplest of gem set tiaras can generate a huge excitement in a weddings. Its all about making the bride feel special and center of attraction. To make her feel the day is hers. Later on towards the mid 19 century, and during the turn of it, Tiaras were treated as piece of art. It broke through the constraints of practicality and realized its potentials as work of art in its own right.
Designers working in arts and crafts tradition made some highly imaginative head ornaments, but most remarkable ones were creation of Art novoue jewelers, Frederick Patridge, William Morris, Rene Lalique, and Georges Fouquet. (Examples of works to be added). In Britain, Frederick Partridge (1877 1942), used cow's horn, rock crystals, and enamels for making his highly original and charming tiaras. Ren Lalique (1860 1945), a leading Parisian designer of jewelry of the same period, broke with traditional conventions of symmetry and designed charming tiaras inspired by trees, shrubs, and insects, using ivory, horn, and cast glass. He pioneered a new technique called plique a jour, a development from cloisonn enamel, which allowed transparency on leaves, petals, and insect wings. Thus marked the beginning of unconventional head gears and head ornaments. When Lalique and Patridge explored materials and sources of inspiration back then in the twentieth century, Versace, tim goslin and Philip Treacy is now experimenting with size, form, material and the look- dramatic , loud and attention seeking. One of the defining characteristics of Art Nouveau jewelry was that its function was secondary to its appeals a work of art. And there could be little future for a type of jewelry that could not be worn henceforth by the end of the 19 century; jewelry had regained its status it had enjoyed in the Renaissance. As fashion and couture established their power, many designers used tiaras to instill fantasy into their collections. Coco Chanel designed a whole range of tiaras in 1932 and adorned her models with comets and stars hung over their foreheads. The Duke of Westminster, who was a friend of Chanel, might have been inspired by her when he ordered a diamond tiara from the Maison Lacloche in Paris. It was to be presented to his fourth wife, Loelia, who set a new fashion by wearing this precious piece of Art Deco jeweler straight, from ear to ear, framing her face. The design had a strong Chinese influence with a detachable rivire necklace built in at the outer border. The war years and the following decades of youth culture resulted in a decline of regal headdresses, but silver-screen film stars, such as Audrey Hepburn, kept glamour alive. Ironically, the 1970s Punk rebellion brought tiaras back as fashion designer statements, notably reinvented by Vivienne Westwood, who is said to have been seen wearing her Italian coral diadem, bicycling around London. Westwood used tiaras on her celebrated catwalk shows, recreating ancient Spartan diadems as well as designing brightly coloured plastic ones.
The most original design, created in 1997 was a diamond encrusted dog's bone with a bow, which might have been inspired by the love knots of the Victorian era. Gianni Versace was a designer who celebrated glamour, and tiaras had to be included in his collections. In 1996,he won a de Beers Award with a diamond tiara, which was consequently worn by pop-star Madonna, who like many modern brides, might live their lives in jeans and T-shirts, but chose a regal style of dress for their wedding day. Philip Treacy, London's top millinery designer, has created a number of modern tiara headpieces using metal, crystals, and feathers in his extravagant creative designs. He seems to be leading a number of artists and craftsmen, who like to express their creativity in tiaras, including Wendy Ramshaw, Jan Mandel, Jan Yager, and Viscount Linley (who being a high-class carpenter designed a wooden one).
The fashion of wearing precious tiaras has fluctuated with history and gone in tandem with society's appetite for elitism, but it has not vanished. The downfall of many European monarchies might have diminished its importance, but curiously, the notion of elitism and the dream of being a princess, even for one day, has continued to seduce generations and the tiara has remained in fashion, in its classical styles as well as in new art forms.
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Anupam Rana is an Associate Professor and Sooriya Rajeev is a student of Accessory Design Department & Craft Initiative Coordinator at National Institute of Fashion Technology, Gandhinagar(NIFT).