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Tiaras and Social Change the long and fabulous history of the queen of accessories

By Kathleen McDermott

From August to November 2017, I made a drawing a day and posted to "My Daily Sketchbook," an on-line portfolio of 100 illustrations exploring history of fashion. There you'll see divas, tiaras, hats, hair-dos, women's history, and more.

30 drawings are presented below in an illustrated slideshow exploring the tiara's role as social and cultural barometer of change over time.

origins: tiaras are Ancient

Early Christian and Medieval Tiaras were worn Only by God's Representatives on Earth

Tiaras go into brief eclipse in the 18th Century

Tiaras re-emerge in the 19th Century associated with Meritocracy

Tiaras worn by 19th-century opera singers signify self-made wealth and Individual agency

Early 20th-Century Tiaras become ubiquitous fashion accessories that follow art trends

People don't wear Jeweled tiaras much anymore

But Contemporary artists are reinterpreting this ancient art form

Invasive Species: American Tiara by Jan Yager, 2001. Oxidized silver and 18 carat gold.

Pendant tiara by Wendy Ramshaw of silver starbursts, 2001.

To learn more about Tiaras:

Cartier. Hans Nadelhoffer. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2007.

French Crown Jewels, The. Bernard Morel. Antwerp: Fonds Mercator, 1988.

Tiara. Diana Scarisbrick. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000.

Tiaras: A History of Splendour. Geoffrey Munn. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Antique Collectors Club, 2001.

Tiaras: Past and Present. Geoffrey Munn. New York: Abrams, 2002.

More fashion history at

All illustrations ©2017 Kathleen McDermott; please credit.

More fashion at Divas à la Mode!

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