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Fashion Flashback: Brooches & Pins by Morgan Watkins


What do you think of when you see a brooch? Your grandma getting dressed up

for her Sunday morning church service? Queen Elizabeth II at a garden party in England? Well, think again - designers like Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, and Louis Vuitton are bringing back these flashy pins in a way that’s completely fresh and modern. But how did the dazzling accessories come to be? Read on to hear more about the history of these essential pins.

Initially used to fasten and secure clothing like loin cloths and cloaks, brooches date back even before the Bronze Age, where they were originally constructed out of thorns and flint. As time progressed and more materials became available, new styles and ways to wear brooches emerged. By the Byzantine period, people no longer needed brooches to keep their outfits secure, but they wanted brooches for a number of ornamental reasons.

One brooch style that gained popularity in the 18th and 19th centuries was the mourning brooch. These were normally given to mourning individuals through the will of a deceased loved one. Often times, the brooch was oval shaped and glass, inscribed with the name, date of birth and death date of the loved one who had passed.

 

Mourning pin brooch fashion style history 

(Image from https://artofmourning.com/tag/mourning-brooch/)


On a less somber note, en tremblant brooches were also introduced in the 18th 
century, and stayed in style well into the 19th century. En tremblant meaning “trembling” or “to tremble,” these sparkling pins featured diamonds arranged in a floral-like design that actually moved and rotated. But these were not the first dazzling pins to take the world by storm, as aigrette brooches, which were set with gems and diamonds to create a feather shape, were introduced in the 17th and 18th centuries. Aigrettes even saw a revival within the 19th and 20th centuries, and were often very detailed and worn in hair.

 

Vintage Pin Brooch jewelry online shopping fashion blog

(Image from https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20714/lot/204/)


Not all brooches were for everybody, though. Take Grand Tour brooches for 
example. In the 17th century, Grand Tour was a sort of customary European vacation exclusive to young upper class individuals. While on these trips, wealthy travelers bought these sophisticated souvenirs to commemorate their journeys. Characteristically,

Grand Tour brooches depicted micro mosaics of landscapes, wildlife and flora.

 

Tour Brooch Pin Vintage Jewelry online shopping fashion blog

(Image from http://www.sweaterflair.com/2016/09/29/hello-world/)


One brooch that was available for nearly every social class was the sweetheart
brooch. Also known as a love brooch, sweetheart brooches were used as tokens of affection. Around WWI, soldiers would give sweetheart brooches to their loved ones before shipping off. Carved from lightweight silver and decorated with birds, hearts and other lovely and romantic images, these pins could make anyone’s heart melt.

 

vintage pin brooch fashion blog

(Image from https://booksonwaraustralia.com/badges-and-medals/1670-australian-mizpah-world-war -1-sweetheart-brooch-badge.html)

No matter how you look at brooches, a lot can be said about their history and staying power in the world of fashion. From the Bronze Age to 2018 runways, the brooch is an accessory worth celebrating.

 

pin brooch jewelry fashion blog

(Image from https://fortrove.com/blogs/news/brooches-make-their-big-comeback-on-fall-2018-runway)

Bibliography
Bernstein, Beth. “A History of Brooches: The Evolution of Style.” The Jewelry Editor, 2016.
“Styles Through History: Brooches.” The Loupe. TrueFacet, Inc., 2016.

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