How Vivienne Westwood’s 1990 Orb Choker Cracked the TikTok Algorithm
Octogenarian designer Dame Vivienne Westwood has always been ahead of her time. The godmother of punk is credited with reimagining the corset as outerwear and the Victorian crinoline as a mini-crini, a puffed-up miniskirt. Long before luxury brands touted their sustainability cred, she urged women to “Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity.” So it is perhaps unsurprising that the so-called TikTok necklace you’ve likely seen on your For You page in the past year (or gracing the necks of celebrities like Bella Hadid and Dua Lipa) is the Three Row Pearl Bas Relief choker Westwood introduced more than three decades ago in her Spring 1990 Portrait collection.
The famous necklace is made from gold-tone brass and, as the name implies, features three rows of hand-knotted pearls framing a Swarovski crystal-embellished pendant in the shape of the Vivienne Westwood Orb logo. The Orb is a mashup of the sovereign’s Orb — a signature motif of the British crown jewels — and the rings of Saturn. Westwood drew inspiration from telescope images of the majestic ringed planet in astronomy magazines to give royal iconography a Space Age spin. She first introduced the logo in her Fall 1987 Harris Tweed collection, where it appeared on buttons and as an embroidered motif. The collection also featured the first piece of Orb jewelry, a 3D pendant necklace.
Over the years the Orb has remained integral to Vivienne Westwood collections, appearing on all sorts of products including bags, knits, denim, bikinis, berets, and, of course, jewelry. Popular styles include necklaces as well as drop, hoop, and stud earrings; rings; and bracelets. The current Gen Z obsession with Orb chokers can be traced to a confluence of two TikTok trends: the rediscovery of the mid-2000s Japanese anime Nana (which featured a protagonist who dressed in all Vivienne Westwood) and Bridgerton-inspired royalcore content. As the Dame herself always wanted, what’s old is new again.
Original 1987 Orb