Mask4Mask: When High Fashion Goes Incognito
The internet went wild after Cardi B made an appearance at Paris Fashion Week last weekend in full Richard Quinn getup. Unrecognisable in a head-to-toe look from Quinn's A/W 19 collection, the rapper didn't have an ounce of skin on show. Posting a video on Instagram, Cardi appeared to revel in her outfit as she posed in front of the Eiffel Tower in Quinn's signature floral prints, the same ensemble having recently featured in British Vogue, on Karlie Kloss (also unrecognisable) by Steven Meisel.
In the wake of a rise in the full body catsuit, special mention goes to the Instagram duo @checking_ invoices, the 'anonymous duo based nowhere'. The anonymous photographer and stylist making morphsuits fashionable left mouths gaping after one member was front and centre at the Fendi show during Milan Fashion Week, doing an Instagram takeover on @fisforfendi.
In honour of these masked marauders, SHOWstudio looks back on the years of fashion masks with 10 concealing creations.
First up: Maison Margiela’s jewelled head, that has become a semi-signature of the fashion house. Appearing first during their Autumn/Winter 2012 collection, their masks have recurred several times throughout the seasons and completely obscure the models’ faces as they walk down the runway.
The Marine Serre A/W 19 collection saw tartan gas masks evoke the trend of air purification, giving the collection an apocalyptic tone and perhaps making a social commentary on the current environmental crisis. The collection also included a suite of balaclavas for the discerning face coverer, whether latex printed with the brand’s iconic moon logo, attached to catsuits, or softer knitted versions.
For Spring/Summer 2016, Givenchy used facial adornments in the form of a mask, incorporating refined feminine ornamentation like tulle and pearls for a threatening yet genteel effect. Here the model is disguised with a lace-like covering.
With a history of creating interesting and provocative head and face wear, Alexander McQueen is no stranger to the mask. For Autumn/Winter 2013, Sarah Burton presented an elegant and theatrical take on the mask with cage-like structures, reminiscent of Tudor court dress and mullioned windows.
For their London menswear Autumn/Winter 2015 show, Agi & Sam commissioned Isamaya Ffrench, now creative director of Dazed Beauty, to create intricate, abstract Lego face masks for a collection that paid homage to the designers' childhood. Watch Isamaya Ffrench discussing her Lego creations with Nick Knight here.
Area’s crystal creations featured in their Autumn/Winter 2019 show. Evocative of Instagrammers' fave app Kira Kira and Y2K diamanté, Area proves that it is possible to hide while covered in attention-grabbing sparkles.
For an haute couture show inspired by the flamboyance of its namesake, Schiaparelli Autumn/Winter 2018 saw fantastical headwear designed by milliner Stephen Jones. The masks ranged from the golden metallic rabbit mask - complete with ears and whiskers -, to an ostentatious flamingo with beak and wings.
Known for the kinky elements in his collections, Jean Paul Gaultier introduced a face mask in a look for Autumn/Winter 2014 haute couture that added a fetishistic feel to the traditionally conservative houndstooth suit.
Another fetishistic face, or lack there of, appeared in Jeremy Scott’s Moschino menswear Autumn/Winter 2018 show. Black latex was a theme throughout, and here we see only the eyes, nose, and mouth of each model as they descend down the catwalk.
Most recently, the Noir Kei Ninomiya presentation during Paris fashion week Spring/Summer 2020 saw all kinds of incognito imagery. Comme Des Garçons' Rei Kawakubo’s protégé, Kei Ninomiya is one of Paris’ most talked-about designers, and his Spring/Summer 2020 collection presented fantastical foliage and clouds of tulle. Models were adorned with a variety of horticultural headpieces, one model’s identity being completely obscured in a hooded ensemble - entirely swallowed by nature.