Fashion’s face-concealing fetish is about showing who you really are.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

A mask is designed to conceal – or is it? In popular culture at least, the mask lets people reveal their truest selves: Think of comic-book superheroes, or fi ctional villains such as the hockey mask-wearing serial killer in Friday the 13th.

For the upcoming season, Gucci takes a look at this dichotomy with a Fall/Winter collection that showcases all manner of masks – from ornate, sculptural gold pieces to leather ones accented with long spikes – alongside the eclectic clothing that has become its signature. The show notes declare: “The mask is a form...that is able to cover and, at the same time, expose.”

That’s Gucci’s take. More often than not, masks simply represent another way for designers to showcase their artistry. Using materials such as fabric fl owers, lace and beads, renowned labels from Alexander McQueen to Viktor & Rolf have, over the years, made beautiful visage-hiding accessories that fully complement their garments on the runway.

And to circle back to the mask being a form of concealment: Critics believe that infl uential fashion designer Martin Margiela used to put intricate masks on his models so that attention would be on the clothes, rather than the wearer.

If that was his true intention, let’s face it – it certainly worked.

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