We are all of course very familiar with the bikini and, rather unfortunately, the mankini – but there’s a lesser know item of beachwear making waves on the beaches of East China’s Shandong’s province. The Facekini – complete with body suit.
Unlike our sun-deprived selves, in many cultures a tan doesn’t imply health or signify two glorious weeks of sun worshipping on the Amalfi Coast. In China where skin colour is regarded as a symbol of economic and social status, a pale complexion is highly prized because it’s regarded as delicate and feminine. Any signs of sun exposure suggest you’re part of the working class, tanned from working in the fields or some other outdoor work.
Invented by former accountant Zhang Shifan, the masks were originally designed to protect from sun exposure but as luck would have it, they are also very good at protecting against jellyfish stings, with orange reportedly being the most effective colour at repelling the attention of unwanted sea creatures. Zhang told Reuters she never imagined the Facekini would be so popular, with 30,000 being sold in the last year.
The brilliant assortment of styles and colours has led to some describing the look as a beach full of party going super heros, bank robbers and Mexican wrestlers. Others see the designs as a fashion statement, indeed the facekini gained international acclaim by appearing in a photoshoot entitled ‘Masking in the sun’ on the pages of CR Fashion Book, a biannual fashion magazine and brainchild of former Vogue Paris editor-in-chief Carine Roitfel.
Whatever your viewpoint, we love the flamboyance of the Facekini, It allows its users to enjoy their time in the sun whilst quite literally being able to save face. In a time where we are becoming ever more conscious of the risks of sun exposure and the damaging effects its rays can have on our skin, perhaps we too will be seeing the Facekini on a beach near us soon.