Will there be any longer-term effects of the sudden vogue for face masks? They seem to be untying their associations with deadly disease and becoming the next big thing, the little black dress of the 2020s – the latest mainstream fashion statement. They’re being seen on catwalks everywhere, like here at the Madrid Fashion Week …
… and here in South Korea …
Designer Marine Serre may have started the current craze inadvertently. Her Fall Winter 2019 show included a range of au courant masks, way before the current pandemic overtook us.
And of course these new, colourful, designer face coverings – often sporting messages or logos – are to be seen in every city centre, every suburb and even every rural setting (lockdowns and curfews permitting). It seems to me that a new, and potentially major, sector of the fashion industry may well be in the making. With so many companies having turned over their productive capacity to the making of, first, PPE, and then later the wider consumer market for masks, it’s surely unlikely that the accoutriment will simply vanish. And if it stays, isn’t it likely to lead on to other things?
They become an item of personal branding. Masks have been used throughout history as a means of changing identity, creating mystery and hiding both one’s appearance and one’s true feelings. They’re still used in various festivals and select social events, such as the Venice Carnival.
So where could all this be leading? Might we be about to witness the birth of more modest – and yet more showy – cultural standards, a less in-yer-face – and yet more ostentatious – ethos, a ramping-up of both courtesy … and flamboyance? Will we enter a Post-Pandemic Age in which a fashionable mask becomes as commonplace an accessory as a scarf, a bangle, a hat or a set of false eyelashes?
Would it not be wonderful to see masked balls in discos, clubs and pubs up and down the land, with closing time a signal for the streets to be filled with gallant young men escorting demure, mask-wearing young ladies to their motorised electric carriages, rather than, at throwing-out time, shots-saturated tarts and booze-fuelled yobs throwing punches at each other, throwing insults at the police and throwing-up on the pavement?
Oh I do hope so.
Image credit: Venice Carnival – Masked Lovers: Frank Kovalchek from Anchorage, Alaska, USA, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons