With face masks now compulsory in all shops in England, stylish face coverings have never been higher up on the fashion agenda, with designer releases selling out in a matter of minutes.
Now a whole new trend is emerging, with style trailblazers and fashion-forward influencers choosing to wear matching face masks with their outfits. And thanks to an initiative launched by leading retail consultant Isabel Spearman, the matchy-matchy movement doesn’t just look good – it’s also raising vital funds for charity.
Spearman has teamed up with the Intensive Care Society, a charity that offers support and counselling to frontline NHS workers, on a clever new pop-up shop – hosted on her hugely popular Daily Dress Edit website – where you can now buy a chic printed designer mask with a smart summer day dress to match.
“When ICS came to me and asked if I knew any brands who wanted to make a mask and give the proceeds to charity, I said let’s go one better and create a whole campaign,” explains Spearman. “I’ve got a brilliant database of British brands thanks to Daily Dress Edit, all of whom have excess fabric to use and UK production units that they want to keep busy, as well as being keen to give back to charity in some way. All the brands I asked said yes immediately – it’s one of those projects that’s just a win-win for everyone.”
The initiative launched with five British brands – Samantha Cameron’s label Cefinn (Spearman used to be Cameron’s aide and stylist), Emilia Wickstead, Chinti and Parker, Justine Tabak and O Pioneers – and more are poised to join. The matching face masks all feature bold patterns and bright colours, something Spearman arranged deliberately to add a bit of cheerful whimsy to the initiative.
The reality is that face masks are set to become a staple in all our wardrobes for months, if not years, to come, so it makes sense to take into consideration how you’re going to style them for different outfits and occasions. Spearman predicts that women will soon start assembling their own mini mask wardrobes.
“Of course people aren’t going to match their face mask to every outfit they have, but I think women will enjoy wearing them as an accessory,” she says. “I ordered one that matched one of my O Pioneers dresses and while I probably wouldn’t wear that look to the supermarket, I would wear it for dinner. And when I go shopping, I’ll team it with a pair of jeans instead.”
Another bonus of the trend? It’s a completely sustainable way to freshen up your look, with all of the masks being made from off-cuts that the designer would already have from their main collections. It also prevents the alarming recent reliance on disposable, single-use face masks, which is already starting to have a devastating impact on the environment. And while it’s worth noting that these masks are not medical-grade face coverings, they do help in limiting the spread of the virus in enclosed spaces.
Here we’ve rounded up the top British designers that are getting in on the new trend.
London-based, New Zealand born-designer Emilia Wickstead is known for her modern formalwear and ladylike aesthetic, beloved by the Duchess of Cambridge (after Catherine wore Wickstead’s ‘Aurora’ blue floral midi dress to the RHS Wisley Back to Nature festival last year, the dress has been consistently sold out), Gwyneth Paltrow and Poppy Delevingne. Her signature looks feature pretty floral prints and pastel hues, and her Green Roses face mask that matches the green Aurora dress is no exception. Made from 100% Italian cotton bibiano and featuring charming bow detailing on the side, with the proceeds from each one going to the Intensive Care Society, this face mask is the perfect accessory for your next garden party or luxe picnic.
Ever since the cult label founded by Susie Cave launched their first batch of face masks in May, they’ve been selling like hot cakes, with each subsequent drop of the ultra feminine designs selling out in a matter of minutes. Now you can pick up a silk floral-print face mask to match your TVW dress, with this ruffled design teaming perfectly with their Cinderella floral print maxi dress. What’s more, 100% of the proceeds from the face mask will be donated to the WHO Covid Solidarity Response Fund.
Founded by cousins Anna Singh and Rachael Wood, Chinti & Parker is best known for its luxurious knitwear designs, all of which come with a fun twist – think bold hues and whimsical star prints. Their love of colour is clear in their rainbow striped face mask, which makes a serious statement when teamed with their matching striped shirt dress. Made from a super soft cotton and silk blend, the simple pleated design will look just as good dressed down with a white t-shirt and jeans, and 100% of the profits from each sale will go to the Intensive Care Society.
This new Camden-based label, founded by actor and jewellery designer Clara Francis and PR and home seamstress Tania Hindmarch, has quickly gone on to become the dress brand of the moment. Specialising in nostalgic, one-off designs that tap into this season’s homespun Victoriana/prairie dress trend, each one is hand-crafted using beautiful end-of-stock, heritage fabrics. Their playful ruffle floral face masks are made in London from the same vintage Liberty prints they use for many of their dresses, and are made with three layers of cotton to offer maximum protection, with 20% of each sale going to the Intensive Care Society.
When Samantha Cameron first launched Cefinn in 2017, she did it with the aim of creating “grown-up fashion for the multitasking urban woman”, something she felt was missing from the market at the time. Her modern, easy-to-wear pieces have since gone on to become go-to wardrobe staples for stylish working women across the country. The brand’s silk face mask comes in their popular Leopard Pansy print and goes with a variety of pieces from their current collection, including the best-selling Daria midi dress, silk skirt and funnel neck blouse, and all of the profits from each face mask will be donated to the Intensive Care Society.
Rixo’s printed day dresses have become a summer wardrobe staple for stylish Londoners, who wear them to everything from smart society weddings to low-key evenings at the pub. Now they’ve turned their favourite floral print, Driving Miss Daisy Ditsy, into a matching face mask. Made a from a blend of silk and cotton and featuring self-tie bow fastenings, it comes in a handy pouch so you can stash it away for your next al fresco outing.
Emerging London-based designer Siobhan Molloy is known for her fun, eye-catching designs, which combine exclusive prints with contemporary sculptural elements to create slow fashion pieces that really stand out. Her cotton poplin face mask is made from off-cuts from her core collection, meaning it can be paired with a variety of the brand’s different pieces, from one shoulder maxi dresses to this Annie geo print shirt. And for every mask purchase, 10% of the proceeds will go to support local communities impacted by the pandemic.
Justine Tabak has dressmaking in her blood – her grandfather was an East End tailor and her thoughtfully sourced British designs are made entirely in the UK, drawing inspiration from Lancashire Mill Girls to Cockney Pearly Queens. Her 100% cotton matching face masks are made from a mix of floral and check patterns from her main collection and each purchase comes as a ‘lucky dip’ pack, with a fabric pouch containing two different designs chosen at random, in a mix of light and dark colours.