Corona fashion

The new spring-summer season has arrived in the confined city. The spring of the virus requires a radical segmentation between the inside and the outside. In the house, the look of the poorly groomed hairstyle makes you forget the standardized severity of the salon cut. A new eco-techno-coronary look asserts itself with the firecracker wick, the unshaved beard and the black roots. Sloppy styling is the best proof of confinement, and therefore immunity. And immunity is chic. For the outfit, pajama pants replace jeans. Slippers replace sneakers.

Outside, the bare hand is replaced by the rubber glove, white, yellow or blue. Any plastic object – a 6 liter water bottle, an umbrella, goggles, a page divider – carries with it the potential to become a wetsuit. The garbage bag is the new ready-to-wear, both in hospitals and in nursing homes and refugee camps. Latex is a must. Epidemiologists warn that plastic is one of the surfaces the virus adheres to the best. But plastic protects against fear because it does not prevent contagion.

Outside the domestic space, the mask becomes the social condom of the masses. The textile sector, the most dependent on supplies from China, sees its production almost blocked. China is not only the epicenter of the virus, it is also the workshop where half of the world’s clothes are sewn. Inditex, a leading international textile group, is collapsing on the stock markets. Who needs a new shirt while in lockdown? The big fashion brands, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, LVMH… recycle their workshops to produce masks, medical gowns and protective suits. Despite everything, China remains the world’s leading producer … of masks now.

The faces of the world disappear under the mask, medical or contraband, homemade or bought from Amazon, luxury or cheap, certified or uncertain, whatever contaminates more than it protects. Fashion accessory par excellence in 2020, the mask had already appeared in the fashion week parades in London, Milan and Paris in early 2019, before the virus crisis was declared in Europe: Chanel, Kenzo, Marine Serre, Pitta Mask, Xander Zhou sign their exclusive models. Hygiene goes hand in hand with style. In digital, the selfie reigns, in analog, there are only “maskies”. The feminists of the 60s burned bras and the transfeminists of the 2020s make two masks in each bra. Nowadays, would anyone claim that hiding the face with a full hijab is an anti-Republican sign?

The new smells of the season are the neutral and transparent fragrance of hydroalcoholic gel, the reassuring freshness of detergent and the deep, spicy fragrance of bleach. The new trend is the total Chernobyl-medical look. Where any social relationship is contagious, barrier fashion rules. When the economy permits, and political negligence does not prevent it, bodies are covered with a hygienic epidermis made of impenetrable cellulose. White is the dominant color in the spring-summer collection, with hints of yellow, blue and orange. The full, unisex suit is heralded as the new urban summer raincoat. Covered with a protective film, the human of the Covid-19 era looks like a bat hiding under its plastic wings. Is the sanitary suit a totem by which the potential contaminant attempts to coax the virus by adopting the attributes of the contaminating animal?

The sleeves and legs are worn wide, the silhouette is curved and continuous, from the hood to the feet, the skin becomes invisible. The difference between pants, shirt, jacket, skirt and shoe disappears. The codes which make it possible to recognize the human body in society become inoperative. The human is disfigured. Toxic Age Chameleons, invisible but present, the Faceless Human and the virus look alike.

The mask, the combination and the generalization of barrier gestures are the destruction of the social relationship as we have known it until now in the sensitive field. Touch becomes impossible, smile invisible, hip movement is imperceptible.

The skin becomes an internal and private organ. The body is defamiliarized, desingularized, deseroticized. The hygienic coveralls are much more and much less than just a dress. It is an external and protective technoskin under which the body loses its unique shape. It is the open status of the body, the porosity of the skin, its ability to relate to the outside, that is denied. It is the body as a living organism that is denied. The openings of the body, those that are visible, such as the mouth or nose, but also those that are microscopic and that are in the epidermis, are covered and sealed. The combination brings the differentiated social body back to the larval state, taking it out of the human universe and bringing it into either entomology or robotics. Hospital caregivers removing their overalls in a hygienic room are human butterflies emerging from silk cocoons.

Source: Liberation.

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