How Vivienne Westwood’s Pearl Orb Pendant Necklace Became A Staple

The late Dame Vivienne Westwood left a lasting impact on the fashion industry during her decades-long career as a designer and punk legend. From her 1970s London store SEX to her work as a climate activist, Westwood’s sartorial influence has touched nearly every aspect of American culture.

Though she’s had endless viral fashion moments throughout the years, perhaps the most famous is Westwood’s original pearl necklace, featuring her signature Orb pendant. The necklace first made its debut in Westwood’s 1990 ‘Portrait’ collection. Like every other early aughts trend, the pearl chain has returned to the fashion zeitgeist, more than 30 years later.

In the documentary Why I Love The Wallace, Westwood attributes her greatest inspiration to art history, noting references to 18th century art within the ‘Portrait’ collection. “All my ideas come from studying the ideas of the past. There is a link between art and fashion,” she said in the film. “I couldn’t design a thing if I didn’t look at art.”

While the pearls come in a bevy of sought-after styles, Westwood’s Three Row Pearl Bas Relief Choker can easily be dubbed a fashion industry favorite. The style took TikTok by force in summer 2021, boasting fans like Bella Hadid, Janelle Monáe, Dua Lipa, and Rihanna, who once wore the choker for a casual Whole Foods outing.

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The necklace pairs the royal iconography of the orb with a celestial influence, that of Saturn’s rings. The logo channels the controversial Sovereign’s Orb — a historic part of coronation regalia — and combines it with Vivienne Westwood’s signature punk style.

Throughout history, pearls have generally been positioned as a staple of the prim and proper. Chokers, on the other hand, have a long-standing association with the risqué, going back as far as Anne Boleyn. Together, this makes for an edgy take on the classic pearl strand. In essence, the Pearl Bas Relief Choker is the epitome of the Vivienne Westwood brand.

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