April 14, 2024


Specialists in fashion

Louis Vuitton Releases Face Shields, and It Was Only a Matter of Time Before PPE Went Luxe

Face masks have dramatically evolved throughout the pandemic. They began as a necessary, utilitarian item. But as they became part of our everyday lives, fashion brands also began reimagining how a face covering can look. Though they’re still essential and utilitarian at their core (at the most essential level, a mask should always safely and comfortably cover one’s mouth and nose), they’ve now become a form of accessory. You can now find a mask in virtually any sort of style, from tie-dyed to covered in sequins. With that in mind, it was only a matter of time before this fashion sentiment evolved to other forms of PPE, too. Case and point: Louis Vuitton announced this week that it will be releasing its own high-fashion face shields.

On October 30, the French fashion house will be launching the LV Shield, a protective visor, in all of its stores worldwide. (No price has been set for it yet.) It’s the most luxurious take on a plastic face shield that we’ve seen to date, though brands such as Joe Doucet have made headlines by introducing “couture” face shields. Vuitton’s style includes an elasticated, monogrammed strap that fits around your head, and is also finished with details such as golden studs that are also engraved with the label’s logo. The shield itself is also trimmed with its signature monogram print, and it’s light-sensitive as well: The visor transitions from clear to dark depending on sunlight conditions. It also works double-duty, as it can also be flipped upwards to be worn as a peaked cap.

A release for the LV Shield describes the piece is “an eye-catching headpiece, both stylish and protective.” And it certainly won’t be cheap. A typical hat from Vuitton costs somewhere around $700 and sunglasses around $800, and with a face shield falling somewhere in the middle of the two, it will likely hover near that mark. As with all luxury face coverings, it runs counter to the idea that PPE should be a widely available, affordable item, especially as concerns of a PPE shortage ramp up again, as cases increase and schools open up. Then again, earlier this year, the label repurposed many of its ateliers across France to produce non-surgical face masks and hospital gowns for frontline healthcare workers, donating hundreds of thousands of these items in the process.

In any case, this face shield is certainly more effective than the glamorous masks recently worn by Tilda Swinton in Venice or Lady Gaga at the VMAs. Maybe it’s best to conceptualize the LV Shield as something else entirely—as a necessity, pure luxury, and a (hopefully) ephemeral fashion accessory. At the very least, it’s a testament to the ways fashion adapted during the pandemic. Surely fashion historians will study it in 20 years.

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