Feb 4th, 2017, 11:54 AM

Cut-Throat Fashion: Choker Necklaces

By Sabrina Aguirre
Image Credit: Shutterstock
The evoultion of the the infamous fad from ancient Egyptian godesses to the runways of Paris Fashion Week.

Whether you’re a sixth-grader with a Claire’s gift card or a supermodel walking the runway for Alexandra Wang, you’ve probably wrapped a choker around your neck. Along with Vogue bringing back oval shades, the boyfriend jean, and fringe, this iconic 90s fashion statement is once again making a comeback.

My first choker was a 1990s boho neck band that I rescued from the bottom of my mother’s jewelry drawer some fifteen years ago. Despite the loose fit, I loved the look so much that I wore it, tarnished clasp and all, until it snapped in half. 

Dating back to the world’s earliest civilizations and transcending many cultures, this tight neck piece was first worn by ancient Egyptian women who donned gold chokers as a means of protection and a symbol of power. During Britain’s Edwardian era, Queen Alexandria (pictured below right) was rumored to wear a studded band to cover a childhood scar. Yet she was not the only European woman who used a choker to conceal an imperfection. Austrian and German women copied her trend, using chokers to cover bumps from goiter, which afflicted people living in the high altitudes of the Alps.

Not to be outdone by royalty, Belle Epoque, prostitutes in France tied ribbons around their throats, fashioning this sultry accessory that today is worn by middle schoolers in America (sorry Mom!). The reclining nude in Edouard Manet's famous painting, Olympia (below) shocked French society when it was unveiled in 1865. The nude courtesan in the painting is wearing a choker. Despite being the scarlet letter of their husband’s mistresses, chokers were also an indicator for the elite. Custom-made and flawlessly fit, featuring diamonds, pearls or lace, this fancy piece flattered feminine necks in high class society.



Making a revival in American retro fashion in the 1940s, the piece was featured in Life magazine as a “dog collar”, a gold, pearled, or rhinestone necklace that gave the cute “dreamy look.” But this wasn't the only time Americans put their spin on this European fad. More recently, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, and Cristina Aguilera were just a few of the 90s icons who sported the new-in bedazzled and tattoo chokers.



Fast forward to 2017. Today designers are going neck-in-neck to see who can create the most  snatched design. Whether it be Stella McCartney's delicate pearl band, Moschino’s rugged leather collar, or Saint Laurent’s classic gold chain, in the cut throat industry of high fashion it is practically a sin not to feature this statement piece in the season’s lineup.

Although affording these jeweled bands may not seem like an option for some, off-duty models like Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner have proven that these neck pieces can be street style for everyone. I personally think an off-the-shoulder top accented with a black leather band looks best, but I have definitely dressed up a choker up with a dress, and dressed it down with a white tee.

With ASOS just releasing the new “man-choker,” it's safe to say this craze will continue to be a thing for a while longer. Regardless, the eye-catching relic has lasted through the Egyptians, Europeans, and Americans, and is undoubtedly destined to be a recurring theme for centuries to come.



Image credit: Shutterstock.