the Aigrette: the missing link between “Tiaras” and “Trianon”

REVEALED!: the missing link betwixt the “tiaras” and the “Trianon” that makes this blog’s theme a bit bipolar.  The aigrette, by almost everybody’s standards, does not count as a tiara at all; is more like a grandiose barrette. The aigrette is a bejeweled ornament made to hold a spray of feathers in a lady’s hair or on a hat.

Marie Antoinette 1775 aigrette

Let us bask in the Britannica back-story:

a tuft of long, white heron (usually egret) plumes used as a decorative headdress, or any other ornament resembling such a headdress. Such plumes were highly prized as ornaments in Middle Eastern ceremonial dress. Jeweled aigrettes, at first made in the form of a tuft of plumes, became an adornment for turbans in Turkey, particularly during the Ottoman period (1281–1924).

Jeweled aigrettes were listed in royal collections at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries. During the 18th century, they were popular with fashionable European women, who wore them pinned in their hair to hold masses of curls at the back of the head.

Nowadays, some aigrettes do remain but they are worn without their feathers, probably because (1) feathers are so 18th Century and (2) they are REALLY flammable and who needs that? The term can sometimes be used to refer to other sorts of flexible ornaments for the hair. Queen Margrethe of Denmark’s Floral Aigrette Tiara is an excellent example of one of these convertible headpieces.

aigrette, catherine the great, queen margarethe ii of denmark, Princess Charlene of Monaco

aigrette, (clockwise from top-left) Tsarina Catherine the Great, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Princess Charlene of Monaco in her wedding gift tiara.

sources: encyclopedia Britannica online, dictionary.com

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