The head ornament called bandeau derives its name from the French word ‘bande’ meaning ‘strip’. Through its simple yet elegant design, it can be worn as a tiara or as a hairband, making it the most timeless of all head ornaments. It really came into fashion at the turn of the century, from the Belle Epoque to the Art Deco period, when the bandeau was the most fashionable thing to wear on a night out in 1925 High Society Paris.
During a short space of time, fashion changed immensely, the voluminous dresses and hairstyles that were still fashionable in the late 19th century had been replaced by short haircuts and exotic dresses that emphasized the body. The simplicity of the bandeau was a perfect match for the modern style of the Art Deco period. In his book Cartier Jewelers Extraordinary, Hans Nadelhoffer referred to bandeau tiaras as ‘an ideal complement to bobbed hairstyles’.
Cartier were experts in creating head ornaments at the turn of the century, they famously created a bandeau tiara for Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (illustrated left), that could be transformed into three bracelets. They were also the master craftsmen behind Queen Elisabeth of Belgium’s superb bandeau tiara (illustrated left).
Bandeau tiaras were often made in the fashion of multipurpose jewellery so they could easily be taken apart and turned into bracelets and brooches, just as lot 245 which can be worn as a choker, a brooch, or as a pair of bracelets; making this bandeau a timeless jewel which would suit any connoisseur’s collection.