50 thoughts on “The Truth About Head Necklaces

  1. I love the snark. Or should I use all caps when referring to the wonders of SNARK? Hmm, inquiring minds want to know…*snicker*.

    I agree that the Duchess of Sutherland should not be wearing her ferronniere playing at being Katniss Everdeen rendezvous with Ernst and that Victoria overdid the head necklaces. (I too love the show) But it looks like the powers that be (production office) thought that if one ferronniere was nice, buy in bulk at Claire’s.

      1. LOL. I just had a picture of Effie from the Hunger Games in a head necklace topped with a flower garland. 😁 Demented???

  2. Ah… forehead necklaces. :-) Sarah, have I told you how much I love you?

    They’re a frequent offender at SCA events too, mostly among newer members. All I can say there is educationeducationeducation…

    1. Eh, if it’s on a n00b, I’ll let it go. If it’s on a triple Peer who has been in the SCA since A.S. Rocks Were Soft and who has a Viking persona…? Then we have problems.


  3. Wonder when the Borgia era ferronniere became a sideways headband looking item? Had to be in the !800s. But I prefer incorrect ferronnieres over derpy flower head garlands.

    1. I would buy that shirt! lol (considering I’ve had a love affair with sticking necklaces on my head since I was a child, and to be honest..I’m probably not gonna stop anytime soon. Even though I really do know better. ;) )

  4. Hooray, thanks for this! Loved the rundown. Also, I am just offended by the complete impracticality of plonking a literal necklace onto the head. It gets super tangled in hair! Not worth it!

  5. Snark foreva!

    And the head necklace is a costume trope. I just have no idea where and when it started, and when the “ladies have necklaces on head, it must be late medieval/renaissance period” became a thing.

    I was thinking Marina Vlady in “La princesse de Clèves” was the culprit, but I can’t find her sporting one.
    Although I’m sure I remember seing some on TV as a child…Argh, it’s not easy being an old!

    1. Yeah, I’m not sure when the head necklace came into existence as a trope, but it’s firmly entrenched now, unfortunately. :P

      If you’re late-Gen-X, early-Millennial, one of the seminal examples of a head necklace is the Princess in “The Never Ending Story.” I think a lot of my irritation with head necklaces probably stems from that character since I *haaaaated* her as a kid. So ineffectual and pointless! WTF was she even there for??? AND THAT DUMB HEAD NECKLACE — just added insult to injury.

    1. I doubt it will really help, unfortunately. We usually get the irate commenters during Snark Week when our posts tend to get shared more widely, thus appearing on people’s FB and Twitter feeds who wouldn’t normally be here. Non-SW posts like this one are mostly just you regulars, who get it.

      But either way, I’ve learned that even with the eighty million disclaimers and warnings and explanations and links to the FAQ, people aren’t going to pay any attention to any of it if they’re just determined to be shitty. :P

    1. I *think* the lenza is the Italian term for ferronnière… I’m not so great with my Italian-French-English terminology, unfortunately, but 5 minutes of Googling makes me think it’s the same thing. ;)

  6. I’m thinking the correctly-worn item is the Mother of the Flapper Bandeau. Which is also not a repurposed necklace on my head.

    1. I was tempted to include the 1920s bandeaus but ultimately decided to just keep it focused on pre-20th century since that’s what I’m most familiar with. But you’re definitely spot-on — the bandeau routinely gets “head-necklace’d” in modern films based in the 1920s.

      1. I was wondering why the 20s were skipped. Generally, beaded headpiece s of the twenties were almost cap-like, having strands of beads running from front to back. Or they were wide pieces of stiffened fabric covered in beads, some of them almost crown-like. Very few have center pendants, most have two larger gems at the side. My big pet peeve of faux twenties head gear is the stretch sequin band with feathers and junk glued at one side. Not even close people

      1. The tee-shirt suggestion: I don’t care if it’s historically accurate, I just want a necklace on my head.

  7. The Kate Mosse Labyrinth story is actually set in 1209. It was specifically set during the crusade against and removal of the Cathars from the Carcassonne city. So they’re costumes are way off.

    1. D’OH! You’re right! For some weird reason I had it stuck in my head that it was late-13th-century, not early13th-century despite the fact that the Albigensian Crusade was 1209-1229. Imma change that right now.

  8. One of the things I hope to see in season 2 of Victoria is the ball where V&A dressed as Edward III & Philippa of Hainault. And of course, bye bye to Lehzen. And you?

    1. I would love it if they include the Edward III/Philippa of Hainault costumes… I’m not optimistic, though. They’re definitely on the side of “impression” not “accuracy”. :P

      1. True, but at least the costumes are semi-accurate, in a sort of way. The corset scenes look about 88-90% right. And compared to Reign ….And they almost had the wedding gown.

  9. I was going to comment about how men on Krypton wrote bands on their foreheads in the classic Superman comics and in the 80s Supergirl did too, fighting the fight for equality, but then I decided to simply mention the
    time that Princess Diana actually wore an actual necklace on her forehead. (Sorry I don’t have photos but I recall it being mentioned in at least one book iIown about the queen’s jewellery)

      1. At least it wasn’t just draped on top of her head – it was worn like a proper 1920s bandeau. (Didn’t really match the dress . . .)

    1. Ah… the Queen Mary emerald choker, given to her by the Queen. It was said at the time, that the Queen was quite offended.

  10. Been having fun looking up ferroniere images, and actually, there are a few very necklacey-looking ones out there…. I just found some that I thought were really interesting.

    Russian Tsarina rocking the head necklace (the size of that centre pearl!) ANNNND then topping it off with a tiara! (should I even be giving the Flippies* IDEAS?) Actually, this looks really early based on her dress, the very, very high waist and smaller fancy sleeves looks 1815-1820-ish, so that’s interesting to me, it’s quite early for the look, and SORT of gives some justification for War and Peace, but not for the W&P execution of it.


    More ferronnieres with day dresses here – seems to have been quite a Russian “thing” actually.


    I really want to see a bigger reproduction of this one as she does look a little more like a relatively normal lady rather than a princess/aristocrat, and it is definitely day wear: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lady_in_green_by_Vasily_Tropinin_%281838,_Altay_museum%29.jpg

    Josef Karl Stieler also seems to have painted quite a few ladies wearing head-necklaces in the 1820s and 1830s… they really do look more like head-necklaces than ferronnieres, especially the blingy chain and gems worn by Amalie von Schintling:


    and “Charlotte” being all historical-revivally (but of course it is worn very high on the head, rather than around the forehead….)


    Cornelia Vetterlein with what does rather look like a pearl necklace on her head.

    Marchesa Marianna Florenzi totally looks like she’s wearing a head necklace too…

    And sorry to go off topic, but while looking at all the Stieler portraits – I’m loving Nanette Kaula for having the most fabulous gold filigree arrow shot through her hairdo. Sure it ain’t a ferronniere or a head necklace, but I love it, and wouldn’t have seen it if not for doing this picture research! (http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/license/173456345 )

    But yes, it’s amazing how many ways there are to get it so very wrong….!

    * Philippa Barnes fans. Would “pipsqueaks” be too unkind?

    1. Oh god, I meant Phiiippa Gregory. Apologies to Philippa Barnes, whoever she is, but who I am sure is a very lovely person, and I have no idea why I put “Barnes” when I meant “Gregory.” My brain doth work in peculiar ways.

    2. The thing about these headnecklacy ferroniers is infact how closely they are worked into the hair.The Russians decorated their hair with jewels and pearls which was prominent throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.Blinging the updos with copious amounts of jewels,no matter what the hairstyle called for,is what made the Russian court fashion so interesting.Like how the pearl strands wrap around and are then meticulously topped with twists and curls.On the other hand,period dramas cannot get rid of this “plopped” over the head feel,which has the same effect as wearing a 1780s balloon cap on a 1750s tete de mouton.

  11. Always wonder why you had a problem with head necklaces. Now I know & totally understand, Thank you x

  12. I got so mad while watching Victoria! An otherwise excellent costuming job ruined by ye old renaissance accesorizing :(

  13. I read somewhere that a famous actress/style setter in the 1920’s was in a hurry before an interview at home and quickly slapped a necklace on her head before the interview for the photos.
    Clara Bow, Coco Chanel? Can’t find the reference now, darn it.

    May have been a story told by Marion Boyce, the Miss Fisher costume designer. That may have been the reference for Miss Fisher to wear one.

  14. Did anyone see the Zuni tarnished Native American silver necklace in plopped on the head, for extreme close ups in season 2 premiere of Victoria in the Nursery scene? I physically screamed at the the screen.

  15. Thank you so very much. Drives me nuts! But I’m one of those sickos who cannot enjoy a movie if the costumes are wrong. Especially if made since the 1960s.

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