Over the past few months, we've been rather focused on earrings-the shoulder-grazing kind, as you might have noticed from our recent cascading earrings and D.I.Y. stories-but that's not the only jewelry trend out there. While the former is perfect for indulging in spring's Studio 54-inspired disco-glam looks, if you prefer a more minimalist silhouette, we have an amazing new option for you too: the tribal necklace. This accessory essential is a bit like the love child of a bib necklace and a futuristic metal collar, making it the perfect piece for grounding spring's floaty, bold-colored frocks or adding earthy intrigue to an otherwise streamlined silhouette. Thanks to a combination of mixed metals and geometric shapes-and the way they're often paired with sleek, slicked-back hair-these eye-catching items seamlessly mix a raw, totemic energy with a certain level of sartorial sophistication stemming from their detailed metalwork and design. The resulting necklaces have an excitingly modern look, so it's no wonder why stylesetters like Leighton Meester and Olivia Palermo are already wearing them!
But before we discuss our aptly accessorized quartet, let's first get down to the nuts and bolts of these industrial-influenced tribal pieces. We first noticed these stunning hardware collars at Yves Saint Laurent's S/S 11 runway show, where Stefano Pilati displayed a collection that was a definite homage to YSL's own extensive repertoire-quite fitting in light of the recently-debuted and heavily lauded YSL retrospective at the Petit Palais in Paris. Accordingly, models sashayed down the runway in cutting-edge interpretations of everything from wide-legged '70s silhouettes to iconic Le Smoking suits. While the collection was light on the jewelry as a whole, Pilati used a truly noteworthy piece-the Empreinte Necklace ($2495, 212.980.2970)-to accompany a lightweight long-sleeved black jumpsuit. From afar, the necklace resembles a golden Elizabethan ruff, yet, while the shape does nod toward traditional constructions, the bold metal makes it feel decidedly new. Additionally, when paired with such severe hair and blood red lips, the necklace takes on a warrior-like look that's perfect for the urban-chic set. Over at Lanvin, Alber Elbaz also tantalized the fashion crowd with a collection that was a brilliant evolution of the lingering military trend. The S/S 11 showcased tribal necklaces with both day-glo body-hugging tops as well as armor-worthy, metal mini-dresses. The results of Elbaz's heavy-handed hardware are strong, sculptural ensembles that mix fearlessness with femininity for a strikingly contemporary look.
Now that we've taken an in-depth look at the runway shows that spawned the tribal trend, let's take a peek at the lovely ladies who are leading the necklace-wearing pack! First up is Olivia Palermo, who selected Mawi's Sunray Tube Necklace ($635) when she attended a screening of Welcome to the Rileys. We love how the perennially polished fashion plate's gold statement necklace, like Yves Saint Laurent's iteration, echoes a Victorian-era collar in structure, yet makes an edgy statement with its bullet-like tube detailing. Additionally, we appreciate how she kept her outfit fresh and unfussy with slicked back hair and a natural beauty look. Apparently, pulled-back locks are one of the top methods for showcasing this jewelry; Jessica Alba also opted for a sleek bun when she wore Anndra Neen's Checkered Choker ($575) to attend the American Music Awards late last year. The former Guest Editor has waxed poetic about her love for Neen's edgy, handcrafted pieces, and in this instance, expertly used her mixed-metal choker to enhance the gladiator vibe of her one-shouldered Cushnie et Ochs frock.
Of course, these necklaces aren't only relegated to a narrow and neat silhouette, they can also be found in nouveau bib-like iterations as demonstrated by actress and stylesetter extraordinaire, Leighton Meester. The Country Strong star opted for a Chanel Necklace ($4600) from F/W 10 to attend the re-opening of Chanel's Soho boutique last September, a jewelry choice that instantly adds earthy intrigue to her all-black ensemble. Finally, Carey Mulligan also went for a bib shape (and winged cat-eyes!) when picking out her tribal-themed bauble to attend the Boutiques.com launch party in New York late last year. The rising actress didn't pair her necklace with an LBD, as most of our examples did. Instead, she brazenly selected a Lanvin leopard-print dress and contrasted the wild print with Oscar de la Renta's Black Art Deco Necklace ($465, 818.782.6357) from the F/W 10 collection.
If you're ready to take a walk on the tribal side yourself, we have tons of stunning necklaces for you to choose from! If you're looking for something more choker-like a la Alba and Palermo, we recommend scooping up Tuleste Market's Solid Petal Necklace ($125), Giles and Brother's Metal Choker ($250)-we love the use of mixed metals-or Lizze Fortunato Jewels' Bomba Necklace ($350), which has a bit of colorful thread to mix it up. If you're in the market for something spikier and a bit more dangerous, kick off your spring shopping with Jill Platner's Juniper Necklace ($1075), or Giles and Brother's Luxor Necklace ($1460), or, Lauren G. Adams' Egyptian Princess Necklace ($222) for a more wallet-friendly find. We're also quite fond of Sequin's Tribal Necklace ($145) if an Egyptian-style iteration piques your interest. Next, if you're dying to recreate Meester's statement look, try a stone-studded bauble like Sobral's Flash Queen Necklace ($160), Nest's Tribal Horn Necklace ($285), or Stephen Dweck's Smoky Quartz and Black Agate Necklace ($118), which could just as easily be paired with a Lanvin-esque brightly colored full skirt. Of course, when it comes to tribal-themed necklaces you can never go wrong with Pamela Love-particularly when recreating Mulligan's mixed-pattern ensemble. The edgy jewelry designer's Crescent Moon Necklace ($550), Large Tribal Spike Necklace ($805), and Large Arrowhead Necklace ($1550) are all deliciously directional, investment-worthy finds.-Liza Kaplan