The stories behind Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s iconic collars

A photographer captures the late justice's cherished accessories and the personal meaning behind them.

This collar made for the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg is imbued with personal meaning: Each of the four layers of fabric represents one member of her immediate family.

Arriving at the U.S. Supreme Court to photograph a collection of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s iconic collars less than two months after the justice’s death, Elinor Carucci was nervous but prepared. Knowing she’d have roughly six minutes to make images of each collar, Carucci had spent the previous day photographing makeshift replicas she cut from paper towels. Carucci says her goal was to capture the vibrancy and character of the cherished Ginsburg accessories: “It really was like looking at pieces of history.”

The delicate collar that made Carucci cry is embroidered with a quote from Ginsburg’s husband, Martin: “It’s not sacrifice, it’s family.” For Carucci, it reflects the many facets of the justice’s identity: wife, mother, Jewish daughter of immigrants, second woman on the high court. Balancing disparate roles, Carucci notes, “is something so many of us women struggle with.”

To Carucci, an Israeli immigrant and mother of a queer child, the collars—one in rainbow pride colors—are ripe with meaning: “Emotional and personal and political and so many things at once.”

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