To say that 2020 has been crazy would be an understatement. Alongside koalas drinking bottled water and the raised fist of the Black Lives Matter movement, one of the most prescient symbols of this year has been the humble surgical mask. Previously confined to the domain of emergency rooms or doctor’s offices, the utilitarian facial covering is perhaps one of the most obvious signs of the extent to which The Pandemic has affected society.
Wearing PPE out in public has become de rigeur (and indeed, a legal requirement in many places) this year. Indeed, it’s a great leveller: whether you’re rich or poor, famous or a nobody, everyone’s wearing a mask. But just because you have to wear it doesn’t mean you should let it ruin an outfit.
French football superstar Kylian Mbappé, forward for UEFA Champions League final-making team Paris Saint-Germain, certainly knows how not to let PPE dominate your dress. The stylish young athlete shared a photo to his Instagram of him at Clairefontaine, the French national football academy, pairing a cheap and cheerful white surgical mask with a dazzling ~31,000 AUD Hublot Big Bang Steel Pavé watch.
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Hublot sponsors the skilled Frenchman, so he’s regularly spotted with some of their finest watches, such as this ‘millennial pink’ Big Bang model. ‘Pavé’ refers to a setting of precious stones placed so closely together that no metal shows, which is exactly what this timepiece exhibits.
The diamond-encrusted wrist candy isn’t the only thing Mbappé’s flexing here: the Nike x Pigalle Hoodie in ‘Luminous Green’ he’s wearing, a limited-edition collaboration between the American sportswear giant and French basketball/streetwear brand, will also have hypebeasts’ mouths watering.
It’s a surprisingly classy and cohesive ensemble which speaks to Mbappé’s youthful nature. It also distracts from the surgical mask… Or maybe we’ve just grown so accustomed to seeing people wear them that they no longer ‘ruin’ outfits. Actually, the mask almost works with the outfit, to give Mbappé credit.
Maybe it just goes to show how effective – and ubiquitous – the humble surgical mask has become in 2020?
In many societies, wearing PPE pre-emptively if you’re feeling unwell has been a cultural norm for many years. Walk the streets of Tokyo’s fashionable Shibuya for example and you’ll see how the Japanese have already perfected the art of matching face masks with their outfits. It’s only now that people in other countries where this courtesy used to not be so common – say fashion capital France, where wearing a mask on public transport pre-COVID would have attracted revulsion – have started to think about how they combine PPE with an outfit.
That a scion of French style and sporting excellence like Kylian Mbappé so confidently rocks the mask like this is a real sign of the times. We’re just impressed that he makes it look so effortless. Bravo, Mbappé.