Post by C.M.


I know, I know, tiara tishmarmra. There’s little chance of any of us donning a diamond encrusted mini-crown, bar perhaps at a children’s birthday party, hen night or fancy dress. Even Vicky B has gone off the idea – can you imagine La Beckham now even considering the gaudy look she preferred for her wedding fourteen years ago, with her streamlined, elegant new image to maintain?

Her magnificent crown failed to sell at auction last week. On loan for her big day in 1999 the tiara was returned to designer Slim Barrett, who was expecting upwards of £18,000 for the diamond and gold creation at the sale, but despite an offer of £14,000 it wasn’t to be. I wonder why?

It's a tiara alright.
It’s a tiara alright.

Tiaras still have their place, however, and (if you’re royalty) can be an invaluable, priceless family heirloom. They are also an interesting way of tracking changing trends – an extreme version of taking a relic you’ve found in great-grandmama’s attic and making it current. Take a look at Duchess Kate;  she was pictured recently wearing an antique tiara to a diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace. It was accompanied by a McQueen gown and pretty earrings; proper modern princess attire.

Pic Mark Stewart
Photo by Mark Stewart

It’s nicely styled into her half-up-do and while not taking centre stage it’s nevertheless letting the light hit it in all the right places. It’s a contemporary take (in keeping with these modest times) on the more lavish, blatant look modelled by its previous wearer, Princess Margaret.

Rob Little:Daily Sketch:REX
Photo by Rob Little/Daily Sketch/REX

Set back a little bit into her bouffant the piece is the focal point despite the appearance of fur, pearls and a ceremonial sash. It’s obviously a white-tie occasion, and pictured at a time after the second world war when it was deemed acceptable again to showcase one’s jewels, encouraged even, so as to cement the value of the British royal family amongst its contemporaries in Europe.

Similar is her mother, the Queen Mother’s styling in 1930.

Getty Queen Mother 1930
Getty Images

Not yet Queen Consort (that wouldn’t happen until 1936), by this stage she had been married to the younger brother of the heir to the throne for seven years, and a touch of glamour was expected from time to time. Emerging from the louche shapes of the 1920s the tiara is seen here pushed quite far forward in keeping with the look of the era, and set against her perfectly coiffed dark hair there is no mistaking that it’s the item to compliment if you’re in need of an ice-breaker. It’s my favourite look of the lot – if you’ve got it you may as well flaunt it – and the deep v-line and layered necklaces keep it from looking too stuffy and add a playful aspect.

No, they aren’t practical and yes, the average Jo wearing one in all seriousness at a Debs can look somewhat comical. Adding to that the connotations with beauty contest prizes and all that goes with that, the tiara trend isn’t one that will ever be particularly mainstream. Some princess fantasies are best left to, and admired on, the princesses (isn’t that right VB?).

It was the 90s in all fairness – The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.

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