The COVID catwalk: what’s the deal with designer masks?

What are you wearing? Who are you wearing? Masks have become the world’s most unexpected and coveted accessory since COVID-19. The streets now host an array of masks in all colours, cuts and patterns. Since the government first introduced mandatory face-coverings in indoor spaces in late July, protecting each other has turned into an opportunity for individual expression.

Some of the world’s top designers have jumped on the chance to style-out the pandemic. Burberry, one of Britain’s leading design houses, are offering a repurposed fabric mask in their signature heritage check for £90. If you’re really looking to push the financial and sartorial boat out then look no further. LA based designer, Michael Ngo’s has released his version of the pandemic protector, boasting a breathable bonded-foam encrusted with Swarovski crystals for £400. The luxury accessory has been sported by Lady Gaga, taking PPE to new heights.

The fashion industry is not famous for its focus on practicality, in any sense of the word… Israeli jewellery company Yvel has taken the cake on this, producing the world’s most expensive face covering. Isaac Levy, head designer, has put the mask industry to shame with this gold and diamond encrusted mask. The mask is valued at $1.5 million and weighs in at 270 grams, expecting to be finished by December this year.

Opulence is not everyone’s cup of tea, however. Looking for something bizarre? Borderline terrifying? Icelandic artist Yrurari has created a range of knitted masks that are eye-catching, to say the least. The pieces emulate the style of her previous knitwear, providing a whimsical way of enduring the pandemic for those daring enough.

The rise of the masked market has also provided a new means of fundraising for charities. Brands such as Proenza Schouler, Collina Strada and Off-White have committed to donating all proceeds from mask sales to charities helping to fight COVID-19.

Are these masks of the rich and famous really just glamorising these challenging times? Or does it lighten the load of social distancing?

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