I first saw it on Alison Brie, Mad Men’s Trudy Campbell, early on during New York Fashion Week last February: a navy blue ribbon hugging her neck like a collar, an accessory that often doubled as a headband in the ’90s and was especially popular among 13-year-old girls who frequented Claire’s.
As the week progressed, riffs on the choker necklace were seemingly everywhere on the Fall 2016 runways.
There were several iterations at Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma debut, from a Puma-labeled sweatband choker to a full-coverage cloth one with bull rings at the trachea.
Alexander Wang’s models wore leather dog collars. Metal versions were ornately woven and fastened in the back at Oscar de la Renta.
The choker, it seemed, was making a triumphant return—retrieved from dusty corners of jewelry cases after years of obsolescence.
Indeed, recent weeks have seen a choker explosion, with variations of the ’90s neck accessory worn by celebs and plebs at Coachella. Taylor Swift and her #girlsquad all wore stripes on their necks at the music festival, where the pop star Instagrammed a photo of the trend and declared chokers “the new flower crowns.”
Or—shudder—is the choker the new friendship bracelet?
At Gigi Hadid’s 21st birthday party in Los Angeles, the style was so ubiquitous that you’d think the model had mandated a dress code. (The Cut compiled a “rough tally” of chokers—12—from Instagram photos of the bash.)
Kendall Jenner, who predicted the black collar necklace would be the next big thing in her 2016 trend forecast, paired the collar with a delicate teardrop choker at Hadid’s party. Kourtney Kardashian wore a dainty chain; Hailey Baldwin went with a disco style; and Hadid stole the show with multiple tiers of constricting cloth, chain, and leather (the latter looked like a studded belt wrapped around her neck).
Rihanna, one of the first stars to embrace the trend, has sported multiple incarnations of the choker. The accessory’s appeal is its versatility, from the sado-sexy goth collars many associate with the ’90s to the understated grandiosity of Victorian and steampunk styles.
In its 18th and 19th century heyday, the fitted necklace came in luxurious fabrics—velvet and lace—embroidered with diamonds or pearls. Simpler versions were adorned with a sole cameo pendant.
The choker’s revival may well be short lived, now that it has exploded into the mainstream. When a trend reaches Coachella and Instagram saturation, its cool factor tends to plummet.
According to Alexa Chung, the British model turned “It” girl turned author of a book titled It, we’ve reached peak choker.
“Oh my god, the choker is so dead,” she told Fashionista at a Coachella pre-party. (For the first time in years, Chung did not make an appearance at the actual festival.)
“No, thank you,” Chung sniffed. “Look, everyone can do whatever they want, but I do think there is a certain thing with trends when they reach a tipping point and that tipping point to me, with the choker, seems to have happened a few months ago.”
For those who think we’ve reached peak Alexa Chung: Go get yourself a choker.