Image via Instagram: @armanddicker

Masked pandemic: This mask dress highlights an ignored crisis [photos]

Designer Lezanne Viviers revealed her project ‘Unmasked Moments’ that sees a model wear a dress made of the face masks that once protected humans but now damage earth…


Image via Instagram: @armanddicker

A South African designer and a Dutch photographer have put their heads together to bring the world an unusual dress with an important message. Lezanne Viviers and photographer Thirza Schaap recently collaborated to warn not only the country but the world about face masks and pollution.

Face mask pandemic: A local designer with a worldwide message

COVID-19 has brought along with it a number of colossal issues that are affecting people across the world. Not only are people dying, businesses failing and relationships suffering, the need for face masks is now also resulting in the planet deteriorating.

Over the last year, disposable face masks have joined the outrageous amount of plastic bottles, plastic bags, and other waste material in polluting our land and water.

In fact, OceansAsia, a non-profit marine conservation advocacy organisation, estimates that more than 1.5-billion face masks entered the oceans in 2020, resulting in an additional 4,680 to 6,240 metric tons of marine plastic pollution.

And no one seems to care – except Lezanne Viviers, a South African designer, local photographer Armand Dicker, creative director Anthony Hinrichsen, and Dutch photographer Thirza Schaap. The team joined heads to come up with a concept where they used trend forecaster Li Edelkoort’s “beauty as a form of activism”, to help shine a spotlight on the problems improperly disposed of facemasks are posing.

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Lezanne, the founder of VIVIERS Studios in Johanessburg started her project, “Unmasked Moments” using around 120 single-use face masks. Her design is a dress crafted from the masks she has used since January this year and can be worn jumpsuit or, when turned upside down, as a batwing jacket.

“The garment examines the irony of the fact that a single-use face mask, which is meant to offer us protection, is actually damaging our environment”

“I wash and re-use the disposable masks up to 10 times before placing them in my special mask-recycle bin. I also asked my team and everyone I knew who used disposable masks to do the same. We collected about 120 masks. Each of them was sterilised in boiling water and ironed with hot steam before we started our creative process,” says Lezanne in a Timeslive article.

The dress was then modelled by Rhulani Kubayi and photographed by Armand Dicker, together with creative director Anthony Hinrichsen who wanted those who view the images to see how the earth is being impacted by the masks. They then used the photos alongside artwork by Thirza who describes herself as someone who finds beauty in garbage and passion in combatting pollution.

Speaking about the end result Armand said:

“We found a pristine location that represents untouched nature. Our model Rhulani [Kubayi] symbolises nature driven to madness by plastic pollution,” reports a Timeslive article. “She braved the icy water to bring our vision to life.”

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