Throughout the years as a civilized society, we have learnt to dress our body with clothes,
our feet with shoes but the idea of dressing our face is only limited to special occasions,
such as Halloween or Carnival. The majority of us would be totally reluctant to the idea of
going to work wearing a mask, unless of course that your job was bank robber, doctor or
nurse in an operating theatre, or of course, Lady Gaga.
Which reminds me of one of the coolest and most surreal moments ever. I walked into my local
branch of Barclays in East London and E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E, from the people at the “Welcome to
Barclays Bank desk” all the way to the cashiers, managers, security and loan & mortgage advisors,
were dressed in Halloween costumes, masks, hats, horns, the lot. It was brilliant! (and yes it was
the 30th October – don’t worry the world isn’t about to end yet).
As I sat on a desk discussing the details of my new savings account with a witch, complete with
a witch’s hat and broomstick – parked behind her desk – I thought: “wouldn’t it be wonderful if
everyday was like this? If we could all wear whatever we wanted to go anywhere, all the time,
everyday?”. I turned around to look at the rest of my fellow bank goers and they were all chatting
and laughing away with one another, as they waited in the queue for the cashiers. Never had I
seen people in a bank happier. Both employees and customers AND during peak hours.
Yup, lunchtime on a week day in London. Can you believe it?
The memory of being handed 200 quid from my bank account by the devil himself is one that I shall
keep for years to come. Hope they do it again next year, so that I can be prepared to join them in
style wearing a fab Alexander McQueen devil’s mask like the model below:
Masks seem to have become the latest fascination among fashion designers, as well as the favourite
accessory of stylists. Proof are the various editorials, videos and fashion shows where models appear
dressed, not only with the latest clothes and shoes but also sporting the latest designs of the new
so-called “fashion masks”, which add that extra wow factor not only to the outfit but to the whole
“spirit” of the collection.
“There is nothing I like more than a girl in a mask and a party dress” – Says Erin Fetherston the designer whose show’s finale included the most charming glittery animal masks inspired by the 1970 Catherine Deneuve fairy tale: “Peau d’âne”.
Viktor & Rolf’s Fall 2006 collection had the models wearing fencing masks which were silver, black, or made of hair. They embodied the “emotional sterility” of the show and gave the models a disturbing sense of anonymity.
The face and body of a model were covered with a bejewelled chain mail mask during last year’s
Paris show at Alexander McQueen.
Richard Nicoll also incorporated masks in his beautiful and feminine “lingerie meets sci-fi” collection, commissioning artist Linder Sterling to create the below masks adorned with garter clips that swung as the models walked by.
And who can forget the bizarre “Sheep masks” that models wore at the Carlos Diez show:
Shoe designer Minna Parikka shredded over 50 of her sassy shoes to make playful masks that combine fetish and the animal world.
The recent fears over swine flu sparked a “pandemic-chic” face mask fashion frenzy.
A designer version of a Sars mask?!?
And lets not forget that fabulous Franken-Fashion mask project organized by Dazed and Confused
recently, where some of the coolest designers like: Roberto Cavalli, Alexander McQueen, Gareth Pugh,
Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Hussein Chalayan, Martin Margiela, Riccardo Tisci, Bernhard Willhelm,
Alexander Wang, Peter Pilotto, Walter Van Beirendonck, Marios Schwab and Nazir Mazhar were
asked to delve into their studio scraps and left over materials from their previous collections to create
a fashion mask.
Here are some of the results:
My favourite fashion mask is the below one, from the 08-09 A/Wcollection of the fantastic Manish Arora. This mask is incredibly popular among stylists and has been worn by countless models to style up photo shoots, editorials and videos adding a powerful and mystical look to the wearer.
You can watch the mask in action in this fantastic video of Florence and the Machine, directed by the incredible Dawn Shadforth and styled by the fabulous Aldene Johnson. Filmed inside a church in London’s Spittalfield, Florence sings and dances dressed for sin, in the most fabulous pieces, custom made for the video by both the stylist and the hippest jewellery designer of the moment Hannah Martin. Don’t miss the shoes! Also by Manish Arora.
Forget mascara, go get yourself a fab fashion mask.