This season, fashion is very much focused on the neck. As I’ve previously noted in my blog, short necklaces, including those with Y-shaped dangles, and wide chokers are popular options from jewelry designers. Dresses and other garments with collars that draw the eye to the neck similarly have captured the interest of the fashion-savvy.
Illustration: A current ad for Louis Vuitton features a black garment with a crisp white Peter Pan collar.
One current style of collar is the so-called “Peter Pan” collar, named after the “boy who wouldn’t grow up” created by Scottish playwright J.M. Barrie and known to millions through the Disney animated movie and various other stage musicals and film adaptations. It’s not clear how a decorative collar took on his name, as Peter is usually seen in a green tunic (sometimes made of leaves) and tights, wearing a hat with a feather, with nary a collar in sight.
The Peter Pan collar, as it has come to be known, has distinctive rounded edges, which give it a soft look. It is typically white in color and is often a design detail of school uniform blouses. Wisegeek.com has this to say about the style:
“The name of the collar is a reference to Peter Pan, a fictional character who lives in Neverland in the novel of the same name, written by J.M. Barrie in the early 1900s. The story is a fairytale about a little boy who never grows up, and the Peter Pan collar is intended to evoke the same fairytale sense of eternal youthfulness. On clothing for young girls, the Peter Pan collar is a perennial favorite since it is a classic, simple look. On older women, the Peter Pan collar is often a subject of debate in the fashion world, with many women either loving or hating it.”
Grown-ups in the fashion world have embraced Peter Pan collars this season, but with attitude and a bit of a twist. The demure look of schoolgirls loses its innocence with these stylings.
The September 2011 issue of Elle combines demure and daring with a Louis Vuitton silk dress and leather Peter Pan collar accompanied by fetish-themed leather boots and a crocodile and metal clutch with handcuff also by Louis Vuitton. The leather gloves are from Carolina Amato.
Among the examples of “retro romance” in the same issue of Elle are a pair of dresses with Peter Pan collars: a black dress with pleated white skirt and white cuffs and collar from Rachel Antonoff, and a lace dress with crepe de chine collar from DKNY. Again here, Elle suggests wearing these demure looks with handcuffs in the form of a yellow gold and diamond necklace from Jack Vartanian.
A Louis Vuitton leather collar and silk dress are featured in the September 2011 issue of InStyle, which quotes British actress and designer Alexa Chung: “I adore Peter Pan-collar dresses and own several like this one. I think there’s nothing sexier than a bombshell in a Peter Pan-collar dress. It’s girlie-sexy!”
An innocent British schoolgirl theme with attitude appears in the September 2011 issue of Glamour, which features this “part girl, part vixen” look consisting of a jumpsuit and leather scalloped edge Peter Pan collar from Louis Vuitton. The model’s bag is from 3.1 Phillip Lim.
The September 2011 issue of Lucky styles a collared Louis Vuitton dress by adding a second collar—a Peter Pan collar of varnished leather, also from Louis Vuitton. Lucky explains: “A Peter Pan collar adds an innocent, boyish appeal to a grown-up dress.” In addition to the layered collars, the look is finished with what appears to be wide silk ribbon tied loosely under the top collar. The model wears an oversized cuff from Michael Spirito, a men’s ID link bracelet from Ed Hardy, a sterling silver padlock charm bracelet by Kora, a studded cuff by Pave, a sterling silver bangle from Elizabeth and James, and a mesh bracelet of brass and cubic zirconia from Michael Spirito. The drop earrings are from TheaGrant.com. The model also wears short boots from Cole Haan and socks from Hue.
Vogue magazine, at first glance, focuses on the demure side of Peter Pan in this photo from the September 2011 issue featuring a dress, silver and horn bracelet, and raccoon fur shoulder bag, all from Gucci, worn with a Louis Vuitton metal collar. The model also wears an 18k gold cuff from Tiffany & Co. and eyewear from Cutler & Gross. The horn and chain detailing of the bracelets adds edginess to the look.
Actress Katie Holmes wears a brass Peter Pan collar from Louis Vuitton in the August 2011 issue of InStyle. Notice that the collar sits on her bare skin and that she wears it with a delicate pendant necklace described as “her own.” She also wears a Broken English 14k peach gold square bracelet, and a Cindy Chao the Art Jewel diamond and 18k white gold branch bracelet. The jumpsuit is from Holmes & Yang and the shoes are from Dolce & Gabbana.
As described in the September 2011 issue of Marie Claire, “A precious-metal Peter Pan collar is the epitome of good girl gone bad.” Along with leather and lace, the magazine suggests channeling “the life erotic without being déclassé” with a collar necklace from Louis Vuitton or a pair of bangles attached to each other with chain from Jack Vartanian.
The way to vamp up the sweet schoolgirl look of a garment with a Peter Pan collar is with jewelry. Choose jewelry with fetish-related themes such as handcuffs, padlocks or chains, or spiked looks from recent collections. Or choose a necklace that is itself in the shape of a Peter Pan collar and work it, with a wink, as the look of a “good girl gone bad.”