Our tendency to eye-roll head necklaces seems to have struck a nerve in some of our readers. If reading any teeny bit of criticism for an otherwise enjoyable show is too much for you, stop reading now. Go watch The Tudors or read a Philippa Gregory novel, because you’re clearly not our target demographic. And if you’re still here and wondering why we are such haterz, familiarize yourself with our FAQ first before you start throwing tantrums in the comments.
And now, with that out of the way…
Why do head necklaces irritate us so much?
If you haven’t seen Trystan’s video on the subject from Snark Week 2017, here it is again:
Apparently this hasn’t sufficiently addressed our irritation with the so-called head necklace because we’ve been getting comments recently to the effect of “I don’t understand why you assholes hate head necklaces so much since they’re totes period.”
Well, hypothetical commenter, the reason we are so anti-head necklace is that very few people understand how and when to properly wear one.
I would like you all to take note of the following:
- This is not a necklace plopped on the head;
- This is late-15th-century Italy.
Proper ferronnières are usually a single thong of leather or a thin strip of metal with at most three jewels strung/set into the center — later, a strand of pearls with a pendant of some form in the center became fashionable. They were really only a fashion in Italy (and parts of Spain) in the late-15th-century, and then came back into vogue in the first half of the 19th century before pretty much disappearing entirely.
While there was a fashion for forehead jewelry that persisted on and off throughout the next couple of centuries, we’re talking things like this:
Moving forward in time, let’s discuss some period examples from the 19th century, shall we? Victoria (2017) is one of the recent shows to get the whole concept of a ferronnière wrong.
AND LET ME BE PERFECTLY CLEAR: I ACTUALLY LIKE VICTORIA.
(I am putting that in shouty-caps because I feel like some people miss the fact that just because we point out historical inaccuracies in shows, doesn’t mean we don’t like the show. This is apparently hard for some people to grasp.)
Anyway, disregard what Wikipedia has to say on the matter, in the early-to-mid-19th century the ferronnière was a fashionable formal wear accessory. A woman would not have worn one during the day, or out shooting archery, or riding, or for an afternoon stroll. The only possible exception to this rule that I’ve been able to find is this portrait of Empress Maria-Anna of Savoy, who looks dressed in day wear, but is sporting an epic head-ruffle and straw hat combo in addition to a pearl drop ferronnière.
So yes, exceptions do exist; but they aren’t the rule by far. Certainly by the time Victoria took the throne, the ferronnière was virtually never seen unless it was paired with a formal gown.
So, when the head necklace shows up in a historical flick, it is liable to get a strong side-eye from The Original Broadway Recording Cast for the following reasons:
Like I stated above, the ferronnière was fashionable in two distinct periods, separated by 300 years; first in late-15th-century Italy, and then in early-19th-century Europe in general. Any time you see a ferronnière outside of those two periods, chances are pretty good that it’s not supposed to be there.
Even when the era is correct, frequently the head necklace appears in inappropriate situations. I refer you to what I wrote above: Ninety-nine times out of 100, a ferronnière was worn with formal wear.
Literally a necklace worn on the head
Can’t we cut just a little slack when it’s the appropriate era to wear a ferronnière?
Nope, not when it’s literally a necklace worn on the head.
So what are some examples of when movies get it right? Well…
So, in closing, ferronnières are indeed period … FOR VERY SPECIFIC AND VERY NARROW PERIODS OF TIME. I hope I have helped shed some light on the subject, but as always, please feel free to have a meltdown in the comments about all the ways I am wrong and/or a huge bitch for hating on head necklaces.