Posted on 16 September 2016
The History of the Choker
Women can be seen sporting belly shirts, tracksuits, bomber jackets.. and of course.. choker necklaces!
New York--Choker necklaces have been falling in out and fashion for thousands of years, literally. Long before they encircled the necks of goth girls or were made popular by the Princess of Wales in the late 1800s, chokers were donned by women in ancient civilisations, worn to protect what even back then they understood to be a very important part of the body, the neck.
Native American traditions include many forms of dress and jewelry, including the choker. These pieces are typically made from bone, glass beads, or shells. They were made to be wide, covering about half the neck, and occasionally included shells or silver medallions that dangled from the centre.
These chokers were originally created as neck protection for warriors, as well as a form of dress for tribal ceremonies.
In East Africa, chokers play a role in many different rituals of the Maasai people.
This was especially true for weddings. Brides would often wear beautifully crafted, brightly coloured chokers for their ceremonies, with the many materials and hues taking on different meanings. Even the size of the piece was an indication of wealth. After marriage, this type of choker would be something that was worn every day.
In their culture, jewelry not only serves the purpose of ornamentation, but also to denote special occasions and relationships.
In Europe, chokers have been ubiquitous as far back as the French Revolution During the 1700’s, it was a style favoured by royals.
Although trendier women wore them fashioned into a kind of back harness in an x-shape. It was a perfect mix between the morbid, the political and the fashionable!. This French “trend” of the ribbon choker quickly spread to England, who copied the look of the red ribbon in a gesture of solidarity. To make the neck-wear more fashionable, women would adorn their ribbons with jewelled baubles or pins.
To pay homage to those killed by the guillotine during the French revolution women would wear red ribbons tied around their throats.
By the 1800’s, the choker had taken on a few different connotations in Europe. Conversely Degas, who was creating some of his most famous works during the late 1800’s, frequently depicted his ballerina subjects wearing similarly styled ribbons. It has been argued that this sartorial choice was a purely aesthetic, to elongate the necks of his models. Others draw a parallel to the more scandalous connotation of the choker, theorising that Degas was commenting on the ballet movement of the time. Ballerinas from working class families lead demanding lives, and were often taken advantage of financially and physically to pursue their careers.
A black ribbon around the neck was often used to identify prostitutes.
Later in the 1800’s, the choker had begun to shed its unsavoury reputation. This was accomplished almost single-handedly by Alexandra, Princess of Wales. The princess frequently traveled to India, and delighted in the way women there heavily adorned themselves with jewelry. With this inspiration in mind, and fuelled by a desire to hide a scar on her neck, Alexandra began piling on ropes of pearls and velvet.
Chokers became a massive trend in the city, with necklaces made not only from pearls, but also precious stones, lace and gold.
These necklaces were worn tight to her throat and stacked high, creating a decadent look that the women of Bombay would soon after aspire to copy.
In the 1920s a resurgence of the choker began once more with Art Déco fervor. Most notably, master glass designer René Lalique created dreamy and complicated pieces, a breathtaking collection of chokers now spread amongst museums. One can imagine the liberated women of the Lost Generation feeling powerful when wearing their chokers with their daring bob haircuts.
In 1944, Life Magazine even ran a famous spread of actresses modelling the accessory, nicknaming them “colliers de chien” or “dog collars.” The revival in popularity began to spread globally, with women embellishing chokers with lace, cameos, pearls, and even diamonds.America- the choker’s popularity was sparked yet again.
The trend became a feminine symbol of power, and many American women wore chokers, sometimes multiple necklaces at once.
90’sThe 90’s iteration of the choker is the one we are most familiar with. The necklace had previously been a symbol of both wealth and rebellion, and it made a definitive return to an anti-establishment statement.
90’s chokers were decidedly less glamorous than their predecessors.Diamonds and lace were replaced with hemp and puka shells, spiked dog collars, and of course, the plastic tattoo choker.
Accessories can totally transform an outfit. It's the best way to add a personalised touch to any look and this ‘90s grunge trend is no exception... Have a look at the way these stylish ladies wear it and reach to find yours exclusively at blingsense!
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