Every summer must have its neck adornment trend, and this year is no different. If summer 2020 was all about the somber, sultry silver chain championed by Normal People’s Connell Waldron (as portrayed by Paul Mescal), then this summer is all about the kitschy, personalized beaded necklace, à la the ones you may have crafted at summer camp. And its patron saint may very well be Pete Davidson.
If for some reason you haven’t been keeping an eye on Davidson’s neck, the comedian has been sporting some very choice beaded accessories as of late. Last month, while attending the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, he wore a string of pearl, mushroom-, and dice-shaped beads adorned with a tiny portrait charm of his boss, Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels. (With a cursory Google Image search, an eagle eye could determine that the photo was taken in front of the step-and-repeat at the 2015 Time 100 Gala.) Earlier this week, he was spotted in a plastic-and-pearl-beaded Susan Alexandra necklace that simply spelled out: “Pete.” And when Susan Korn, the designer behind the eponymous brand, got a DM from Pete’s stylist inquiring about a custom piece (to wear to a gala at Jerry Seinfeld’s house, no less), she shrieked.
“I have been dying to get something on a boy for a long time,” says Korn, knowing that her designs (including her signature beaded Instagram it-bags) tend to skew pretty femme. She had a sense of what Pete might be looking for: something colorful, chunky, and chaotic, or as she and her team like to call it, “TikTok jewelry.” She crafted a one-of-one version of the brand’s yet-unreleased Kooky Necklace featuring his name (“Why wouldn’t he like that?”) and a matching smaller necklace to layer. Cuteness is a key factor here, and in this particular instance, Pete is a pretty cute name when it’s written out—something about the rounded synchronicity of p’s and e’s. (Food for thought: when Davidson’s then-fiancée Ariana Grande named a short interlude after him on her 2018 album Sweetener, she tweeted out to fans that it was in part because she liked the way his name looks.)
And of course, Pete isn’t alone in embracing the trend: Jaden Smith’s been piling on pieces from the brand *EVAE+ (who also recently did a jewelry collab with Tyga), and Justin Bieber’s got a shroom-and-gummy-bear charm necklace by Omnis Studios of his own. It all feels very young and downtown-Manhattan-cool. Writing on the kooky jewelry renaissance for SSENSE, Laia Garcia-Furtado reminds us that, while these sorts of beaded accessories are typically seen as accoutrements of girlhood, “like so many things these days, this trend is strictly (fluidly?) gender-neutral.” Citing both Davidson and Smith, “[i]t’s all a little bit surfer, a little bit punk, a little bit alternative. It’s a trend because so many different designers are doing it, but it’s an anti-trend because it can be whatever you want it to be. And in that sense, it’s eternal.” You can see glimpses of it, too, in Frank Ocean’s first jewelry collection for his new “independent luxury company,” Homer.
Pete’s necklaces are fun in part because they are so personal, so distinctly Pete: the shroomy glass mushroom beads, the picture of his employer, the one-beat monosyllable that is his own name. They feel particularly camp counselor-y—which is a good thing. What’s more, our favorite Staten Island scumbag seems to be undergoing something of an aesthetic shift—he’s working on removing all of his many tattoos by the time he turns 30, and he’s been sporting more muted tones in lieu of his otherwise-characteristically chaotic uniform. Even as his style evolves, the beaded necklaces feel like a small memento of the Old Pete, who once told this very publication, “I dress how I dressed when I was, like, 10.” After a year like this one, it’s safe to say we’re all experiencing a little regression—it’s probably OK to lean into it.