It would be an understatement to say that 2020 hasn’t been great for fashion. Or anything, really. Even the 2020 dumpster fire jokes have gotten old.
We’ve now endured eight months of barely seeing friends and family. We’ve lived in stretchy pants and sweatshirts, only dressing from the waist-up for Zoom calls. And with no weddings, parties or nights out to look forward to, many of us have given up on fashion altogether.
Meanwhile mask-wearing has become a daily habit — damned if you leave the house without one. And with what looks like many months of masked life ahead of us, those cloth face coverings might be the most exciting (ok, the only exciting) fashion accessory we have.
So why not spice things up a bit? Instead of hiding behind a bland utilitarian mask you picked up at the drugstore, how about upping your fashion game and giving your outfit a little more personality? While you’re at it, you might as well support local businesses. God knows they need all the help they can get right now.
L.A. is full of designers who have heeded the call and bravely turned their talents to mask-making. The objects they’re making aren’t just fabric scraps tied together with string; the City of Angels is full of some of the most beautiful, whimsical, even extravagant masks that are sure to give your pandemic look a little pizzazz.
Whether you want something cute for the little ones, a holiday gift for a friend, or something fashion-forward for yourself, these L.A.-based stores and designers have just the mask you’re looking for.
THE SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE MASK
Designer Heather Lawrence’s bat mask flew off the shelves and into the internet’s inner-goth heart last month. But Mantrap’s selection isn’t all dark. This Costa Mesa-based brand is also pumping out Christmas sweater masks, luxurious scarf masks, and even a so-called 90s housewife mask that comes with a matching scrunchie. These masks are fun, locally-made and we’re not afraid to say it: even sexy. ($14-$45)
VIRUS PROTECTION, BUT MAKE IT FASHION
Hall is known for his glamorous creations, having dressed the likes of Salma Hayek, Celine Dion and Charlize Theron. Now he’s making masks to add a little glamour to your grocery-grabbing ensemble. Made from vintage cotton, these embroidered masks are hand washable and all kinds of fabulous. ($18-$28)
It’s a mask, it’s a scarf, it’s a mask-scarf! Franco is a former soap star who originally hails from Transylvania. How’s that for an L.A. backstory? When the pandemic hit, she added masks and matching airplane seat covers to her line for those who don’t want pandemic air travel to limit their color coordination. ($13-$30)
THE ECO-VINTAGE BOHEMIAN MASK
Lindquist is a self-described “eco designer” has been making masks since March, using fabric remnants from her collection. She’s even created masks using up-cycled concert T-shirts, perfect for the music fans in your life. This means her offerings are limited and sell out quickly, so get that Morrissey concert tee mask before another Mozz fan snaps it up. ($16-$30)
HI-TECH GEOMETRIC LOOKS
These origami-inspired masks are designed by Sci-Arc alum husband-and-wife team Ziba Esmaeilian and Maysam Ghaffari. They started designing and manufacturing “wearable architecture” in 2014, focusing on elaborate jewelry. Zimarty added masks to the mix earlier this year. Hand washable, they’re made from Kraft-tex, a German engineered U.S.-made paper fabric. ($45)
Martinez is a quilter, master food preserver and classically-trained chef (who also happens to be the wife of KPCC’s very own A Martinez). Seriously, what doesn’t this lady do? Martinez started making masks earlier this year, with the colorful fabric she normally uses for her elaborate quilts. She’s got several different patterns to choose from, depending on your fit and size (she’s got masks for the little ones, too).. You can browse her creations on Instagram @sewcialtina. (Visit her page for pricing.)
These masks are designed by Ghanaian American duo Essie Blankson-Turner and Jessi Ashanti, who normally specialize in colorful home goods made from fair trade fabrics. Their 100% cotton West African wax-print masks are reversible, customizable (pick your own prints!), triple-layered and even come in kid sizes, so the whole family can step out of the house in style. ($10-$18)
LOCAL LA PRIDE
Even L.A.’s beloved Griffith Park animal habitat has gotten in on the mask game. The zoo store has a lot of cute masks, but this riff on the California flag is a real standout. It’s machine washable, adjustable and comes in both kid and grownup sizes, so everyone in the family can show their support for this L.A. institution. ($5-$10)
The Broad is selling four masks, featuring some of the colorful, frenetic designs featured in much of Basquiat’s work, in this case the artist’s 1983 painting, “Hollywood Africans.” Masks are washable, double-layered with a filter pocket and nose wire, and make quite the artistic statement piece when you’re out and about. ($25)
These playful masks by U.K. toymaker, Noodoll come in three different colors and perfect for adding some fun to mask-wearing for the little ones in your life. They’re 100% cotton and machine washable, with adjustable ear loops. Plus, they’re just all kinds of adorable. The cuteness potential is real.. ($12)
Have a favorite LA mask-maker you recommend? Let us know on Twitter @LAist. And stay safe out there.
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