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In Appreciation of Prue Leith’s Necklace Collection

The ‘Great British Baking Show’ judge and celebrity chef sports great taste in accessories

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When it was announced that The Great British Bake Off (aka The Great British Baking Show) would change networks and replace the core of its hosting and judging cast — swapping Mary, Mel, and Sue for celebrity chef Prue Leith, Noel Fielding, and Sandi Toksvig — I was skeptical.

But after binge-watching the new season that just landed on Netflix, I’m sold thanks to an unexpected new star player: Prue Leith’s amazing collection of statement necklaces, which she boldly displays in each episode of the show. Leith’s known proclivity for the statement necklace is less obvious during her judging stint of Great British Menu, where sadly, she dons a necklace only a handful of times (and only one true statement number, a three-tired gold strand of chunky round beads). The pieces she displays on GBBO, however — true to her stated love for ”strong, architectural shapes and… designs that reflect a love of nature, taking inspiration from the curves and shapes of landscapes, seas and flora and fauna” — makes Leith the undisputed British Food-Person Grand Dame of Accessorizing. (Stateside, that title goes to New York City restaurant critic and self-proclaimed “accidental bag lady” Gael Greene, whose Etsy site selling her cast-off vintage finds re-delights me every single time I remember it exists.)

Viewers in the UK, where each episode of Bake Off results in a glut of recaps and livetweets, have had the pleasure of already appreciating — and criticizing — Leith’s choice in neckwear, which also usually happens to match her glasses. One piece worn during the Netflix season’s “Caramel Week” episode lead to a Daily Mail headline proclaiming that Leith “accidentally put anal beads around her neck today.” (To my eye, the necklace is more like a tribute to Mondrian, but using the shapes of Miro.) A different necklace, worn during the semifinal episode, evoked a different kind of sex toy — a ball gag, according to Twitter fans and subsequently, a headline in Metro. (I’m thinking it looks more like one of these old-school child’s toys that populated my pediatrician’s office, with that colorful blue loop for a chain.) Two weeks ago, in the Bake-Off season currently airing in the UK (and as-yet-unavailable stateside), headlines compared a particularly colorful necklace to game pieces from the game Kerplunk. (Okay, maybe this criticism is fair.)

But behold Leith’s choice here for simple, geometric elegance (she owns this in yellow too, and wears it during the “Bread Week” episode with a matching yellow ensemble):

And look at the casual nature of these squiggles from “Pastry Week,” which are trying but not trying too hard:

This one, from the final, can only be interpreted as a loving tribute to the Red Vine:

This one from “Forgotten Bakes Week,” evoking the playfulness and vibrance of penny candy, this is the one I want most in my personal collection right now (I’ll take the shirt, too, to be honest):

Not the mention the episode two, white-squiggle necklace, which is tough to see as it’s delicately tucked into her electric-yellow blazer, but evokes a Supreme Court Justice’s collar.

So basically, Prue: Should you also decide to open an Etsy store selling off bits of your collection, do let me know.

An Introduction to the New Hosts of ‘The Great British Baking Show’ [E]