COVID-19 Masks: Art, Charity, Fashion Statement – Forbes

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 15: A sticker representing the famous fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld with a … [+] facial protection mask is stuck on the window of a Karl Lagerfeld store as France is slowly reopening after almost two months of strict lockdown throughout the country due to the epidemic of coronavirus (COVID-19) on May 15, 2020 in Paris, France. Facial mask has become a fashion accessory with The coronavirus epidemic. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 304,000 lives and infecting over 4.5 million people. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

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COVID-19 masks seem to have become a fashion statement as lockdowns unwind around the world. But they are also a charity, and art.

Not surprisingly in fashion capital Paris, couturier masks are particularly à la mode. Where to buy the trendiest masks, advises French Vogue. “…because the mask has become one of the new essentials of everyday life.” The magazine rounds up several online boutiques from Paris to London and LA to purchase the prettiest fabric masks.

Many are already out of stock with the soaring demand it notes. Yet as France exits its lockdown and shops reopen, boutiques in Paris parade chic COVID facewear to passersby from window displays. While the Karl Lagerfeld stores use icons of the famous designer wearing a black mask to lure people in.

Mirror Mirror On The Wall Who’s Got The Prettiest Face Mask Of Them All?

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 13: A woman wearing a protective face mask looks at shop mannequins wearing … [+] protective face masks displayed in the window of a fashion store as France is slowly reopening after almost two months of strict lockdown throughout the country due to the epidemic of coronavirus (COVID 19) on May 13, 2020 in Paris, France. Facial mask has become a fashion accessory with the Coronavirus epidemic. France has begun a gradual easing of its lockdown measures and restrictions amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 292,000 lives and infecting over 4.2 million people.

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“It’s hardly surprising people are looking for more aesthetic versions than the simple white model,” Vogue says. Wearing masks is highly recommended not compulsory in most cases in France, bar on public transport, in pharmacies, and at work.

Given they are going to be around for a while, you may as well find a model you like it notes. Plus they “occupy a good part of the face” … So if you’ve got, it flaunt it.

Despite showing off stylish masks available from small labels and independent couturiers across the globe, the magazine concludes: “Masks are not a fashion accessory (and will likely never become one).”

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 14: Protective face masks are displayed in the window of a fashion store as … [+] France is slowly reopening after almost two months of strict lockdown throughout the country due to the epidemic of coronavirus (COVID 19) on May 14, 2020 in Paris, France. Facial mask has become a fashion accessory with the Coronavirus epidemic. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 297,000 lives and infecting over 4.3 million people. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

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Haute COVID Couture For A Good Cause

I beg to differ. Clearly corona couture masks have become a hot fashion accessory. Albeit often for a good cause. At up to $40 a pop, sometimes 100% of the profits are donated to emergency medical associations fighting COVID-19. Such as France’s Protège Ton Soignant (Protect Your Health Worker), or Liberty print masks for NHS ambulance service trusts.

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 13: A shop mannequin wearing a protective face mask is displayed in the window … [+] of a fashion store as France is slowly reopening after almost two months of strict lockdown throughout the country due to the epidemic of coronavirus (COVID 19) on May 13, 2020 in Paris, France. Facial mask has become a fashion accessory with the Coronavirus epidemic. France has begun a gradual easing of its lockdown measures and restrictions amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 292,000 lives and infecting over 4.2 million people.

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Lagos To Istanbul: Masks Are An Expression Of Culture

OKtay Seven Turkish mask couture for brides

Oktay Seven Instagram

It’s so interesting to see how couture masks have become an outward expression of different cultures. For some, the more bejewelled the better. That’s the case for Nigerian fashion designer, Sefiya Diejomaoh. She doesn’t want a global pandemic to mask–excuse the pun–her dazzling sense of style.

Masks are compulsory in Nigeria, all of the time. When she steps outside in Lagos, Diejomaoh sports a golden one studded with diamantes. A stylish mask is “more fun,” she told Reuters. “It doesn’t seem as though we’re fighting a war.”

Turkish designer Oktay Seven, says he’s seeing lots of demand too for colorful, couturier masks, sparkling with Swarovski crystals. He’s even designing bridal masks in traditional Turkish style.

Frida Kahlo masks are also popular in Buenos Aires, Argentina (Photo by RONALDO SCHEMIDT)

AFP via Getty Images

In San Diego, designer masks by Ashley Nell Tipton call-up the Hispanic culture. Those featuring Frida Kahlo regularly sell out online. Other designs feature French Bulldogs, polka-dots, and bright florals.

From Fashion To Art

A poster for Vilnius’s Mask Fashion Week. In May local artists invited residents of the capital … [+] Vilnius to a “Mask Fashion Week”, encouraging them to have fun wearing the now-mandatory facial accessory. Spearheading the initiative, designer Julia Janus said she hoped it would “encourage creativity” as well as compliance with orders to wear masks in public to help stem coronavirus infections. (Photo by PETRAS MALUKAS / AFP) (Photo by PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

In Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, masks are both art and fashion. During “Mask Fashion Week” in May, local artists invited residents to dress up to their heart’s content. Face fashion is all the rage. Designer, Julia Janus, says she wants to “encourage creativity” as well as compliance with lockdown-exit rules making masks compulsory.

Some people went to outrageous lengths to show their readiness to don a mask. Not surprising perhaps, artists were those to take the call to a creative extreme.

Artist Severija Bruzaite wears a mask designed by Donatas Dubauskas as she takes part in the Vilnius … [+] “Mask Fashion Week” on May 5. (Photo by PETRAS MALUKAS)

AFP via Getty Images

In Belgium, design studio WeWantMore is refashioning preloved Nikes and Adidas sneakers as face masks. “The sneaker masks offer some protection,” says creative director, Ruud Belmans, “but we primarily designed them to highlight humanity’s ability to adapt. It merely shows how reimagination and creativity can put a positive twist on even the hardest of times.”

WeWantMore Design Studio in Belgium’s Sneaker Masks are an artistic commentary on people’s … [+] adaptability faced with COVID-19, and on lifestyle changes

WeWantMore Belgium

Haute Couture Charity Minus The Fashion

Quite a stark contrast to all of this accessorizing, is the pure show of corona solidarity being shown by several luxury French fashion houses.

Chanel is among the maisons making simple white non-surgical face masks for healthcare workers. “From their homes, 300 dressmakers are mobilizing for caregivers,” France Info news reports.

Each couturier is making about 20 masks a day. “The price of surgical masks is capped at around €1.”

Quite a different price tag than fashion masks attract.

Louis Vuitton too has repurposed several of its workshops across France to “produce hundreds of thousands of non-surgical face masks”.

Fascinating to see different cultures appear through face mask fashion. Sleek black satiny displays … [+] on display in Ghent, Belgium. Masks are compulsory on public transport and strongly recommended in other places. Photo by Jonathan Raa)

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