Vivienne Westwood: Face Behind Trendy, Iconic Pearl, Gold Necklace

70s star style resurges in modern fashion


Eva Stegic

The classic and iconic necklace that is a common accessory among Gen-Z.

Eva Stegic, Columnist

     Vivienne Westwood, known to Gen Z as the woman who created the viral micro trend pearl necklaces, was a fashion designer ranging from the early 70s to the present, with her influence spanning over multiple generations. Her Mini Bas Relief choker necklace has been seen recently all over the internet, a consequence of pearls becoming popular again over the course of the pandemic. Not only did this choker gain popularity, but other brands such as Éliou, or the designer Harris Reed, introduced pearl necklaces that gained traction as well. As Westwood’s necklace gained popularity again, a resurgence of her work has been seen within the fashion industry, but has it been seen in the media? 

     In the 1970s, as punk rock emerged in England, Vivienne Westwood was the star of the show, alongside the controversial band, The Sex Pistols; but In the beginning of her career, Westwood worked alongside English fashion designer Malcolm McLaren, creating clothing for their boutique, Sex. Eventually, McLaren took on managing The Sex Pistols, which for their time, were a band that was completely new: breaking the social norms that had been constructed, and creating an anti-establishment statement with their hit, God Save The Queen. To The Sex Pistols, punk rock was a rejection of mainstream media, and an anti-establishment stance was the perfect way for them to express their feelings; additionally, being aided by Westwood made it easy for them to express themselves, while it also helped Westwood become prominent in the fashion industry. Westwood created the clothes and persona for this band, designing the iconic God Save The Queen print, alongside releasing collections that she had been doing for herself. As she was rejecting the mainstream, Westwood created the first iteration of the pearl choker (that we know and love) in 1987, as a way to defy and modernize the sleek pearls we had since up until that moment. 

     With the resurgence of her classic necklace in 2020, came a resurgence of her work, as more and more people began collecting and reminiscing over her old collections. Frederick Loew ‘22 says, “I feel like trends that happen really slowly are kind of exciting to make comebacks,” which is exactly what happened to Vivienne Westwood and her pearl choker. A consequence of this comeback being that of fast fashion, as he adds, “there are like a billion different fakes on Amazon.” Then this begs the question, what is the value of these items? Does the connotation change based on when they are popular? Could this necklace have just been popular again based on fashion trends, or does it speak to a larger desire for anti-establishment ideas and the split democracy we saw after the 2020 election? Regardless, it is exciting to see a comeback and rejuvenation of trends with a more modern twist, if it is caused by trends, or larger ideas in the media.