Since antiquity, queens have been associated with setting fashion trends. My scarf history research led me to these lovely ladies who were trend setters in their own times. Egyptian Queen Nefertiti (13th century BC) wore finely woven scarves underneath her conical headdress. Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (12th century) was a colorful and enlightened queen who brought customs from Aquitaine, such as language, respect for women, and fashion, to Paris, a then unimpressive city. Women of Queen Eleanor's time hung lengthy scarves from their high headdresses.
Queen Isabelle II (1833-1868) of Spain popularized the mantilla style of draping a silk or lace shawl over one's head and shoulders. Scarves and shawls ascended to their status as popular fashion accessories during Queen Victoria’s (1837-1901) time. Queen Victoria herself crocheted eight scarves and gave them to soldiers as a special award for heroism during the Boer war.
Empress Nur Jahan (1577-1645) whose name means “light of the world” was a highly influential and favorite queen in Mughal Emperor Jahangir’s court. She took an active role behind the scenes, encouraging trade, fashion and the arts. During her time, Nur Jahan and the ladies of the Mughal court wore expensive silks, brocade and fine muslin embellished with gold, silver and precious gems. Rani Lakshmibai (1828-1858) the famous queen of Jhansi, fought against the British when they tried to annex her kingdom. She was an excellent swords woman and horse rider. Even during battle she wore a sari, but draped like a dhoti (‘Nauvari sari’) and a scarf on her head.
Gone are the days when a scarf used to be just a sweat wiping cloth (a sudarium) worn by Roman soldiers. Embrace your inner queen with scarves!