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The trend with a chokehold on fashion

Fashion
Roberto Cavalli 2016/2017 Spring collection
High-end fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Roberto Cavalli and Versace recently featured chokers as part of their 2016/2017 spring collections.

Singer Rihanna and models Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid showed us how to wear the accessory from catwalk to street wear to the red carpet.

Actress Michelle Williams was spotted wearing a simple black ribbon around her neck at the Golden Globes Awards last month and singer Katy Perry wore one to the Christopher Kane show during London Fashion Week.

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Singer Rihanna layers her choker with different necklaces, mixing it up with pearls and gold.
Movie poster for the cult movie, Pulp Fiction

The choker has a long and interesting history, of which most fashionistas are not aware. Most think it’s simply a revival of the 1990s trend, which was made popular by movies and TV shows of the time. Characters such as Natalie Portman, who played Mathilda in the 1994 movie Leon: The Professional, wore a choker throughout the movie. In the same year, Uma Thurman, who played Mia Wallace in the cult movie Pulp Fiction, wore a black choker, which was a prominent feature on the movie poster. One simply cannot describe 1990s fashion without mentioning punks, whose outfit wouldn’t be complete without a spiked or studded leather choker.

The late Princess of Wales often wore a classy three strand pearl necklace. Even a fictional Disney princess wore a black choker to the ball. Cinderella’s magical blue evening gown (and her wedding dress) was accessorised with a simple black choker.

Princess Diana wore three stringed pearl choker necklace

The history of this accessory dates back even further than the 1990s.

During the 1800s, artist Edouard Manet’s famous painting, Olympia, featured a nude prostitute wearing nothing but a flower in her hair and a black ribbon around her neck. During this era, a black or red ribbon around the neck of a woman was a signal that she may be a prostitute.

Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales was often depicted in paintings and illustrations wearing a wide choker made of rows of pearls used to cover scars on her neck, about which she was apparently self-conscious. I would imagine this was where Princess Diana drew inspiration for her pearl choker from.

Native Americans are well known for their bone, bead and leather neck pieces, worn as part of their traditional wear.

In southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, members of the Maasai tribe still proudly adorn their necks with colourful beaded chokers. The woman wear chokers daily and the bigger and more elaborate neck piece is seen as a symbol of wealth.

In South Africa the married women from the Ndebele tribe wear brass and copper rings around their ankles, wrists and necks called dzilla. Both the local and international fashion scene has adapted this tradition to modern-day wear.

With the popularity of the steamy movie series, Fifty Shades of Grey, people have become more aware and curious about domination and submissive sexual practice. It’s nothing new though, and fashion has been drawing inspiration from it for years. An example of that would be latex dresses, which have become popular recently. The submissive in the relationship would wear a collar, sometimes attached to a “leash” - a sign of possession.

This is a similar practice to those seen during the times of slavery. For this reason, and the historic reference to prostitution, there are many people who are not too fond of the modern revival of the choker.

This year the trend has taken a different form. We are seeing fewer of the thick black bands that were so popular last year. Instead the choker is daintier and often has more than one strand. The trend has even filtered into menswear as seen at Louis Vuitton men’s spring 2017 show recently.

To wear the choker you can still draw inspiration from the 1990s, but don’t necessarily wear 1990s style fashions from head to toe. Think more along the lines of punk rock chic, with black T-shirt, ripped jeans and a leather biker jacket.

Don’t be shy to mix things up a bit either: a move away from the simple black choker and instead try mixing silver with gold and even pearls. Adding layers of different necklaces with your choker will give it an added edge.

Chokers are not only for daytime either. A thin gold choker can add a modern yet sophisticated twist to your favourite little black dress for a night out.

Allow your choker to be the statement accessory to your outfit and show it off with open neck tops. A v-neck T-shirt, off-the-shoulder top or dress, or any low-cut top works best.

Before deciding on what choker you want to try this year, always make sure you are comfortable wearing it. Just because it’s a choker, it doesn’t mean you want to feel like you’re actually being choked. There’s nothing worse that feeling uncomfortable all day for the sake of being fashionable.

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