Tilda Swinton gets creative with 2020 Venice Film Festival’s mask mandate

Call it coronavirus couture.

Tilda Swinton is taking the humble face mask to high-fashion heights at the 2020 Venice Film Festival, where nose and mouth coverings are required as part of the event’s pandemic-era precautions — as are temperature checks and social distancing.

At the festival’s opening ceremony on Wednesday, the 59-year-old Oscar winner hit the red carpet in a black-and-white Chanel Haute Couture look and carrying a sculptural gold mask by James Merry that was more about fashion than function.

According to the Iceland-based artist and longtime Björk collaborator, Swinton’s pearl-studded piece was inspired by “stingray skeletons, seaweed, orchids… + also my favourite fish sculptures on the columns of the rialto fish market in venice.”

But that wasn’t the last of the actress’ museum-worthy masks. At Thursday’s premiere of her film “The Human Voice,” Swinton donned another “custom creature” by Merry, this one butterfly-shaped and “summoned from the lagoon,” according to the artist.

According to Swinton’s stylist, Elizabeth Stewart, these art objects are intended “as a symbol of ‘responsibility’ and ‘care’” when she’s on the red carpet.

It’s worth noting that Merry’s masks, while stunning, provide no protection whatsoever against the COVID-19 virus. But Swinton seems to been carrying them them solely for photo ops, and wearing CDC-approved cloth face coverings while off the red carpet.

Post-festival, the one-of-a-kind masks will be auctioned off to benefit Facing History and UN Women.

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