|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Saturday, October 16, 2021
|How masks went from 'muzzle' to fashion's object of desire|
Maxime, a 28-year-old fashion designer and sewing teacher in a fashion school, who graciously provides some online video tutorials to teach people how to make home made protective face masks, sews a mask at his home in Paris, on May 5, 2020, on the 50th day of a strict lockdown in France to stop the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP.
by Olga Nedbaeva / Fiachra Gibbons
PARIS (AFP).- Once upon a time if you wanted to get ahead you got a hat.
Now if you want step outside your front door you need a mask.
In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus has upended the Western wardrobe and challenged its deepest codes about freedom, comfort and self-expression.
From being a curious oddity seen only on Asian tourists, masks have suddenly become as essential as socks -- a signal of civic virtue and a passport to many public spaces denied to the bare faced.
"When you wear one you are saying, 'I'm not a threat'," said French designer Stephanie Coudert, who made her name with Paris haute couture.
"It's a civic gesture."
Yet when she sat down to design a mask, one thought kept coming back to her.
"It's a muzzle. It is hard to get away from that," Coudert told AFP.
Fashion's Mr Zeitgeist, Louis Vuitton's Virgil Abloh had no such reservations, rushing out a simple black mask emblazoned with the arrow logo of his own Off-White label for $92 (87 euros) a pop.
It immediately sold out and has since become the most coveted style accessory in the world, according to trends monitor the Lyst Index, with some now selling secondhand for four and five times that.
By contrast, Coudert is selling her couture masks for eight euros.
"It a social choice for me," she said. "I think we are all asking ourselves how we can be useful."
Not surprisingly, she is working flat out to keep up with demand. Indeed Lyst said internet searches for masks have gone up five times since the beginning of the year.
Even before the virus raised its ugly head, masks were coming in from the fashion cold.
American designer Rick Owens was ahead of the curve, masking many of the models in his Paris spring summer collection two years ago and giving out masks to everyone at the show.
Back then Owens had pollution and climate change in mind. Yet he was reluctant to revive the idea even as the virus casts its shadow on the last Paris fashion week in March.
"I would hate to capitalise on it," he said. "I'm sure people will and it will be sensational on Instagram."
Owens was not alone in seeing a fashion future for masks. Rising French designer Marine Serre was an early adopter and they have also featured in recent Gucci, Vetements and Japanese designer Takahiro Niyashita's The Soloist shows.
But many of the big houses remain cautious and deeply ambivalent about whether masks will be part of our fashion future.
Style historian Olivier Saillard warned masks were "an accessory we all want to be quickly rid of".
It could be seen as "rather vulgar to make money from putting a logo on a mask," he told AFP.
While Dior, Saint Laurent and Balenciaga have been making free masks for French medical staff and care workers, there is a reticence about going any further.
Chloe, a bag and accessory designer for a fabled French house, told AFP from the window of her Paris apartment that she had been asked to toy with some ideas around masks.
"It's tricky," she said. "But we could be wearing them for many months or even years, so why not make them into a fetish object. It is what we humans do."
Coudert said that it we had to live with them, it was best to make masks that were clever, comfortable and calming.
"I dropped the idea of making ones with a seam down the middle because you can look like a warrior in them. We don't need to make people any more nervous now," said the couturier.
For the anthropologist Frederic Keck, masks have long been regarded in the West as "archaic and oppressive", a prejudice that will be hard to shake.
Indeed, covering the face is technically illegal in France under a controversial "burqa ban" aimed at Islamic face coverings.
In a think piece in the French daily Le Monde, Keck compared masks and the constraints COVID-19 has imposed on social interaction to the "loss of innocence that AIDS brought to love making" in the 1980s.
Despite all the downsides, historian Saillard sees one positive to be drawn from having to wear masks.
"In a era which is all about ego... a little bit of self-effacement is maybe not all bad," he said.
© Agence France-Presse
May 11, 2020
Bonfires of the Cenote Aktun Ha were created by man more than 10,000 years ago
Little Richard: An ecstasy you could not refuse
Ketterer Kunst announces auction of rarebooks, manuscripts, autographs
300 luminous drones above the River Maas in Rotterdam in tribute to freedom and health
Alone with their muses, artists in retreat wonder if it's too much
Sabrina Amrani adds Edison Peñafiel to the gallery's roster of artists and opens online solo show
Kimsooja creates site-specific planting project for The Wanås Foundation for Summer 2020
Frankfurter Kunstverein reopens with "How to Make a Paradise: Seduction and Dependence in Generated Worlds"
Jaquelin Taylor Robertson, architect and passionate urbanist, dies at 88
The Duchess of Cambridge and National Portrait Gallery launch Hold Still
The Kunsthaus Baselland reopens with three exhibitions
Patricia Fleming Gallery presents 'Excerpts from the Library'; a new online exhibition by Ilana Halperin
BPS22 - Musée d'art de la Province de Hainaut presents a solo exhibition of work by Latifa Echakhch
Florence Griswold Museum presents 'Sanctuary', a juried online photography exhibition
How masks went from 'muzzle' to fashion's object of desire
10 women in jazz who never got their due
A five-hour crash course in Italian history that's also great filmmaking
A pianist has cracked a composer's code
Centre Pompidou-Metz launches new projects on streaming platforms Deezer and Spotify
Watts Gallery - Artists' Village etends online programme of exhibitions, activities and events
Interesting collection of horseracing passes to be offered by Dix Noonan Webb
The National Gallery of Victoria announces live studio visits with Australian artists & designers
Catch up on Korean cinema from your couch
Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre opens a free 3D virtual exhibition, Seeds of Our City
A Comprehensive Introduction to VPNs
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.