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Spring 2020: Fashion and Hygienic Face Masks

Since the beginning of time and in most civilizations, masks have been part of traditional dress. More recently, face masks have been worn in many fashion instances, most notably in pop culture. Outlaws love them: Zorro and Money Heist heroes wear traditional masks, while Darth Vador has his equipped with a respirator. In sports, fencers have been using masks to protect their faces from dangerous weapons, while cyclists have been breathing through them to avoid city pollution.

This spring, within a few weeks, face coverings have become fashion items. After the clumsy beginnings of no-sew masks made from old t-shirts, amateur seamstresses quickly dusted off their sewing machines. They looked up tutorials on how to make face masks – and they got to work!

How to Make At Various Skills Levels

fabric fashion face mask

Photo: Marie-Luce Seßelberg

Shopping trips to fabric shops and DIY stores reveal a wide choice in fabrics and elastics. Now it is time to personalize each product: who wants the puppy pattern? Who’d rather have fairies or starships? Pirate skulls for the teenagers in your life? Fancy flowers or stripes for your mother? Have you been preparing only for the summer months or are you already planning faux-fur masks for the winter? And why do some men only want plain black masks? So many questions, and yet so many possibilities. Let your imagination and talent guide you!

Where to Shop

Shopping online is a convenient option, but it is easier to appreciate the qualities and colors of fabric in a shop. Nevertheless, here are a few links for online shopping:

How to be Fashionable

In the US and elsewhere, female politicians are wearing business suits and dresses with color-coordinated hygienic masks and scarves. Stylish, socially responsible, and setting a good example. What about celebrities – aren’t masks helping them to blend in with the rest of us? They might even fool the paparazzi.

fashion face mask

Mask and photo : Marie-Luce Seßelberg

Don’t be fooled, wearing a face covering isn’t only about protection from viruses. Some masks are so beautiful, you might actually want to wear them, virus or not. What will your look be today? A romantic appearance? Some casual linen?  Or for a night out, a Hermes scarf artfully tied around your mouth and nose? There are face coverings for every occasion, from grocery shopping to meeting friends – while keeping a safe distance of course! With a little research, you will find the perfect pattern and the most elegant cut for many fashion face masks.

Fashion Face Masks and Designers On the Runway

During Paris Fashion Week in February 2020, young designer Marine Serre asked models to present her Fall/Winter collection while wearing masks coordinated with her creations. Last year her models were already wearing masks, trying to bring awareness to our polluted environment – not because she had seen a pandemic in her crystal ball. Now her masks are also for sale.

The French magazine Gala asked several designers to create fashion face masks for its May 13th, 2020 publication. Even if you don’t understand French, please have a look: the photos speak for themselves. Jean-Paul Gaultier was particularly interested in the challenge. He designed several fashion face masks, which bring to mind some of his emblematic creations. He also posted them on his Instagram account.

The designer mask is on the rise and might become the new “it” item of your wardrobe!

Designers Producing Masks for Health Workers

In France, Louis Vuitton and Chanel created hundreds of thousands of non-surgical masks and hospital gowns for healthcare workers during the first weeks of the confinement. Reformation, a sustainable apparel brand, went even further. They are producing millions of masks for LA’s essential workers and requesting donations from customers. They also have a tutorial on their website on how to make a face mask with a bandana. The fashion industry might be in turmoil during the pandemic, but these brands have ideas – and aren’t laying off their employees.

How to Make Art

Not all masks are made to be useful. Many people are having fun, creating original masks. Nowadays everyone has a chance to be a fashion designer and a model at the same time. If you aren’t sure that your great homemade mask is safe, wear it on top of a regular one.

Some creators’ messages are sweet, others are funny, and some even subversive:

fashion face mask

Mask and photo : Marie-Luce Seßelberg

fashion face mask

Mask : Fabienne Dellenbach – Photo : Marie-Luce Seßelberg

How to Wear

Most of us have been wearing hygienic face masks for weeks, and most of us don’t do it correctly – see WHO and CDC guidelines for additional advice. Important facts to remember, according to the experts:

  • Even surgical masks don’t guarantee complete protection. You wear a mask to protect others, not yourself
  • Don’t touch your mask once in place
  • Don’t wear your mask on your chin or on your forehead
  • Wash your hands before putting on your mask and after removing it
  • Pull off the mask by the elastic or ties, not by touching the front
  • Wear a mask for 4 hours maximum
  • Wash your cloth face covering in hot water regularly
  • And of course, discard your disposable masks in the proper receptacles, and remember to wash your hands often.

Special thanks to Tricia Conover, Fabienne Dellenbach, and Marie-Luce Seßelberg for their help and inspiration.

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