THE NEW NECKLACE
How to wear the season’s boldest accessory: the choker.
Bigger is definitely better. That was seemingly the mandate when it came to jewellery for spring. Take the shouldergrazing earring: minimal and metal at Céline, bright and beaded at Gucci, feather-esque and fanciful at Proenza Schouler. Or the oversized pendant necklaces, seen at both Balenciaga and Givenchy, where Riccardo Tisci layered charms in the shapes of hearts and keys over a gauzy black lace dress. Or the twinkly tiaras atop the models’ heads at Saint Laurent, and the chunky anklets at Calvin Klein.
Then, there were the chokers. Spring’s styles included sculptural gold pieces at J.W.Anderson, brightly coloured nylon rope at Isabel Marant, and crystal-embellished chains at Chanel, making this the most choker-saturated season since the necklace’s heyday in the 1990s. These new versions brought structure to the forefront, as designers got playful with the blank canvas of a woman’s neck. In turn, the centuries-old accessory was reborn once again, as a showstopping outfit completer, evoking a fierce notion of modernity. One of the most memorable options came at Dior, where a parade of models hit the delphinium-lined runway wearing chokers crafted from a distinct combination of palladium-finished metal and resin. Some napes were wrapped up that much more with tight scarves in varying prints layered underneath, which was at once provocative and darling. Charms dangled from several styles, a metal tag with either the numeral 8 – Christian Dior’s lucky number – or 1947, the year in which the designer presented his iconic New Look collection.
Chokers were fashionable centuries before M. Dior’s debut, in ancient Egypt, and even became something of a political symbol during the French Revolution, when women took to wearing red ribbons around their necks in tribute to those who met their fate at the guillotine. The jewellery made a widespread return in the mid-1800s, as the neckwear of choice for ballerinas – Edgar Degas often included the detail in his paintings – and royalty, particularly England’s Princess Alexandra, who popularised the trend of stacking multiple strands of diamonds and pearls. Fast forward to the 1990s, when chokers made a comeback again, but this time with a casual, streetinfluenced twist, fashioned out of plastic made to resemble a faux tattoo, which quickly caught on with impressionable teenage girls.
Today, the necklace looks best – and au courant instead of like a #TBT moment – with the right accoutrements. Wear a thin pavé-diamond or a 14-karat-gold choker with an offthe-shoulder dress for an easy evening ensemble, or top off a casual T-shirt and jeans with a thicker style in sturdy metal, such as sterling silver, for an all-day outfit.
And don’t stop there. Play with the riotous nature of the choker by piling on a pair of equally boisterous earrings. Silver hoops give length above the shoulders without losing any of the necklace’s edge. Go matchy-matchy in coordinating metals, or mix it up with different stones and materials.
All that attention to the face calls for a full ’ 70s glam moment. Glossy skin sets the scene, giving an all-over glow. Ruby-red lips punctuate the bold accessories, while brushedout waves offer the perfect backdrop.
Altogether, it’s a little Studio 54, with a dash of Victorian royalty, and totally 2016. As perennial choker wearer Iris Apfel says, “More is more and less is a bore.”