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Essay: Mask by Lanvin

by Penny Martin on 6 July 2004

Writer and Editor Penny Martin unpicks the playful femininity of Lanvin's lace mask.

Writer and Editor Penny Martin unpicks the playful femininity of Lanvin's lace mask.

Regarding the wisp of lace and slither of ribbon that make up this mask, it is difficult to see how such an eccentric haberdasher's confection could be the linchpin in the most elegant collection of the season. Effectively a fine veil wrapped over a wire headband with dinky ears springing from each temple, it sounds as promising as Alexis Colby-does-Minnie Mouse.

Rather than concealing the face from view and creating a sense of intrigue over the wearer's identity, the gauzy fabric reveals the skin and hair beneath, merely gesturing at secrecy.

Put it on, however, and the translucent materials take on a luxurious, deeply erotic quality, rendering its wearer simultaneously glamorous and breathtakingly feminine. Indeed, it is the sheerness of the piece–its state of hardly being there at all–that distinguishes the Lanvin mask from other, more theatrical, masks. Rather than concealing the face from view and creating a sense of intrigue over the wearer's identity, the gauzy fabric reveals the skin and hair beneath, merely gesturing at secrecy.

Never intended as a 'free standing' accessory–the masks are not on sale to the public–the piece was devised as a styling tool, a counter balance to the Lanvin designer's quintessentially simple, seamless, satin gowns. Yet this dainty, feline exercise in texture makes the most demure of statements, a playful contrast to this season's grown-up dressing.

Chantilly-lace mask by Lanvin

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