Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

I’m not sure why it is but recently I’ve developed a micro-obsession with black lace masks. It could be seeing them floating around the internet like boats adrift, or it could be that lace always pops up time and time again at this time of year. The thing is, its not exactly something you can wear often. They look incredible in editorials, when styled perfectly and shot flawlessly, but when would you wear a mask? To a ball…yes. To a party….yes. But not out to dinner. Not unless your name has Gaga on the end of it. So is this something we just look at and love. Or can it be integrated into an outfit as something more wearable without looking like a plank? Let’s discuss.

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The mask, in its traditional form, has been around, according to legend, since the 13th century, originating in Venice, where else? Worn in Venice apparently to cover the face in public, a response to one of the most rigid class hierarchies in European history, the mask is an object worn over or in front of the face to hide the identity of a person, and by its own features, establishes another being. The half-mask or the ‘Columbina’, held to the face with a baton or tied with a ribbon was historically popularised by an egotistical actress who didn’t want to have her beautiful face completely covered. Typically worn for protection, disguise, performance or entertainment, the mask naturally creates intrigue, separation and an alter ego. Masks are also associated with kinky naughty business, I realise, but worn tastefully, they take on a whole different look.

Carine Roitfeld’s portrait was taken by Karl Lagerfeld for Roberto Tisci’s issue of Visionaire, an issue focussing on Religion which retailed for a sky high $495, wearing a slice of lace over her mouth, Claudia Schiffer was photographed for the cover of Vogue Germany in August 2011 hiding provocatively underneath a lace veil, and lets not forget Audrey Hepburn in ‘How To Steal A Million’ modelling beautifully a lace mask during a secret rendez-vous at the Ritz as a ‘chic burglar’. We wouldn’t expect anything less than chic with Ms Hepburn.

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So, let’s take a random guess at where the black lace mask revival came from most recently. Hmmm…let’s think. Was it a movie? Was it a superstar entertainer? No of course not. What are you thinking? It was Chanel. OBVS. All hot trends come from Chanel and let’s not forget it. During Chanels Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2011 show last year, Peter Phillips, creative director of Chanel, decided on lace veils as a theme, inspired by cat burglars, since the show was being held at night time but this idea was not entirely without any basis for the French brand. In 2007, veils of tulle and chiffon were used on the runway, and who else but Gabrielle Chanel wore hats with lace veils attached proving that nothing, these days, is original. It has already been done and already been done well.

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All images via Pinterest

So….can the black lace mask be integrated into an outfit as something more wearable without looking like a plank? No. Let’s face it, the mask was made for magazine editorials and remains an occasional sartorial accessory, to be left to parties,Venetian masquerades and loading the dishwasher on a Tuesday. Still, I’d wear one….

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