New York Fashion Week – The Revival of the Choker
Over the past several months, talk about the return of the infamous choker has been quite a hot topic for the world of Fashion. Celebrities like Rihanna, Kendall Jenner, Kate Hudson, Taylor Swift and many others have all hit the red carpet, showing off a classed-up version of the accessory. What initially reemerged with other throwback grunge trends (like slip dresses), has miraculously managed to survive almost an entire year. In fact- it seems like this piece of jewelry won’t be going away anytime soon. Chokers have been spotted on the streets and the runway during this fall’s New York Fashion Week and they’re as hot as Victoria Beckham’s new collection.
Sure, we might think back to the good ol’ days when chokers were cool and picture Cher from Clueless. But I assure you, this accessory has a much more beautiful history. And it seems as though what was feared to be the revival of the hideous, 1990’s plastic neck band is actually more like a glamorous comeback of a centuries-old piece of jewelry.
Women have been rocking the choker since the beginning of civilization! Understanding the way other cultures have influenced this, once again, popular fashion trend is perhaps the best way to appreciate what it symbolizes for the world of fashion.
Ancient Egypt is where it all began. Mesopotamians and Egyptians adorned their necks as a symbol of power and status. They especially loved to wear the lapis stone. It’s deep, celestial blue was believed to signify royalty and honor, gods and power, spirit and vision. Even today, lapis stone holds a high reputation, with many viewing it as a universal symbol of wisdom and truth. Chokers were also worn as protection. Egyptians associated gold with the sun, and thus believed jewelry made of this element offered the most protection. The throat, a vital and delicate part of the human body, was of utmost priority when it came to defense, making chokers a very wise accessory choice.
Africa, the Middle East, and India also all have a strong connection with intricate neck jewelry. Traditional chokers for marriages and other ceremonies are a huge part of tradition, one that started years ago and remains strong to this day.
In East Africa, chokers play an important role in various rituals. They not only serve as ornamentation, but also signify special occasions and relationships. A particular piece is worn during a marriage ceremony, while another is worn after she has been wed.
Similarly, neck pieces were also an intricate part of Native American culture (and still are today). Usually made from shells, glass beads, or bone, chokers compliment tribal clothing for special ceremonies. Much like the Egyptians, Native American warriors also wore chokers for protection.
Chokers in Europe can be traced back to the Renaissance era, circa the 1700s. Once again, their style was was reserved for higher class citizens. Yet, as time went on, their meaning evolved to represent other more scandalous things. A single black ribbon was worn by prostitutes and red ribbons were worn by commoners, as a way to mourn the passing of loved ones who were victim of the guillotine. Meanwhile, in other parts of Europe, like Germany and Austria, women wore chokers to hide goiters (lumps on the neck caused by iodine deficiencies).
Ultimately, it was Queen Alexandra of Denmark who really made the choker shine by the late 1800s. Her influence in the world of fashion had every lady wanting to get her hands on a beautiful neckpiece.
The choker first made its debut in American fashion during the 1920’s. For women, it was a sign of empowerment and femininity.
The jewelry we see and wear today are often designed with the influence of other cultures. From a tiny village in Africa, to the greatest runways in New York, fashion is a multicultural art. The more we understand it, the more we can appreciate it.
A beautiful part of tradition, a feminine symbol of empowerment, and a hot commodity in the world of high-fashion – the revival of the choker is much more than just a reemerging trend from the 90’s.
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