HAUTE PROTECTION: Taking designer face masks to a new zenith with feathers, lace and beading, couturier Yacine Aouadi has conscripted four specialty ateliers in Paris to embellish three R-Pur masks that will be auctioned off in aid of front-line health workers in France.
Vermont offered its expertise with embroideries, Lemarié with feathers and Sophie Hallette for lace, while the Atelier Caraco, a sewing workshop and design studio, offered its nimble fingers.
“Under the current circumstances, we thought it would be more appropriate to replace a usual couture showing with a special project directed toward a charitable goal,” Aouadi said in an interview.
The mask designs match past Aouadi couture dresses, which he updated — except for the bridal look, which traditionally closes a couture show. Aouadi created an entirely new wedding dress upcycled from the embroidered lace bed sheets that were gifted to his mother when she got married 50 years ago, he related.
The latter gown’s matching “White Dove” masks boasts pleated Calais lace, translucent beads, gold thread and rooster feathers. Meanwhile, the “Fiery Heart” mask is embellished with gilt silver beads and hand painting, and the “Radiant Bow” incorporates ombre silk organza, jet bead embroideries and a tulle bow. Each mask comes housed in a bespoke carrying case by trunk maker Sefec.
Aouadi noted that all the ateliers donated their time and materials. “It was a full chain of solidarity from design to conception, to the custom packaging creation,” he said. “All three of [the masks] were equally complicated to conceive, as they married extreme techniques with soft embroidery such as lace and feathers.”
The masks are to be sold via an online auction at R-Pur.com from Feb. 22 to 28, with all proceeds going to La Fondation Hôpitaux de Paris — Hôpitaux de France (FHP-HF), headed by French First Lady Brigitte Macron. Founded in 1989, the FHP-HF funds more than 15,400 projects in French hospitals.
French start-up R-Pur developed its connected masks for cyclists and athletes to battle air pollution, with the filtration system touted as 10 times more effective than the highest European standards. Marine Serre is among high-end designers to have already collaborated with R-Pur on masks.
“I do hope that more fashion masks will come as we progress through this pandemic, and that this initiative will inspire more designers to approach it as we did,” Aouadi said, noting that a “sadly mundane” object can become a “very inspiring fashion element that can become part of the language of a fashion brand.”
Trained at Paris fashion school Studio Berçot, Aouadi started his fashion career at Balmain before launching his own couture brand in 2015 and dressing the likes of Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett and Kirsten Dunst.