The Facekini: High fashion’s worst trip to the beach yet

Photo by Alexandra Utzmann for CR Fashion Book

Top of our list of high-fashion things that can f**ck off this week: Facekinis.

Carine Roitfield, former editor of French Vogue, is pretty set on making the Chinese ‘sensation’ of the Facekini ‘happen’.

These balaclavas made of swimsuit material were first used on the Eastern shores of China about seven years ago, before having a moment of viral internet fame in 2012. Now, despite it all being soooo two years ago, one of the world’s most revered fashion voices has declared that looking like a rained-on member of Pussy Riot can be a stylish choice.


A non-model wearing a Facekini for UV protection purposes. Photo by Peng Yangjun

Hilariously, the Facekini started off as an accessory used by middle-aged Chinese women afraid of tanning their skin and receiving jellyfish stings while swimming in the sea. But now they are deemed worthy to feature in Roitfield’s over-priced fashion tome, the CR Fashion Book ($20).

Mélanie Huynh, who edited the Facekini photo shoot for the mag, is quoted on as saying, “Fashion insiders like the idea of trends coming from ‘the street’ and find that Facekinis have something really strong.” This women is clearly a parody of herself.


Photo by Alexandra Utzmann for CR Fashion Book

There have been claims by the US owner of the Facekini trademark that this ludicrous face-glove is good for surfing, and we appreciate the fact that his website attempts to sell them on the basis of “suncream ain’t good for your face” rather than “look at how chic this is,” even if both reasons are pretty ridiculous.

And if the token amount of coolness associated with surfing didn’t manage to stop these dudes looking like total gimps when wearing Mexican wrestling masks on the beach, we don’t hold out high hopes for the rest of the population looking anything but insane when donning a facekini.

Photo by Alexandra Utzmann for CR Fashion Book

Also – surely these things are death-traps? We suspect that going for a dip in one might be similar to the sensation of being water-boarded. Watch the video below of the Swatch Girls Pro China 2012 longboard contest in Wanning, Hainan Island, for distinctly facekini-free surfing.

In summary: Yay fashion! You’ve taken an item of attire that reinforces skin-tone ‘ideals’ entrenched within the class system in China, and made it into something coveted by rich Western women obsessed with inverting stereotypes and trying to be a bit edgy. Good job.


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