“Fashion for Bank Robbers” Is an Insta-Obsession for the Anti-Selfie Set

Steff Yotka
Tired of seeing FaceTuned selfies on Instagram? Follow this account dedicated to masks.

The creation of the front-facing camera was the biggest thing to happen to vanity since Narcissus fell into the river. Once we could see our own faces while we photographed them, even the most sheepish, egoless wallflowers among us started to pick apart our faces and our flaws. The trend for self-perfection has birthed apps (FaceTune), portable lighting (Lumee Cases), and a trend in plastic surgery to realign noses and eyebrows and eyeballs to a more pleasing digital ratio. Concurrent to this reassessment of self is the exact opposite trend: The rise of the mask.

Masks can be terrifying—see any horror movie for proof there—but on the Instagram page @Fashion_For_Bank_Robbers, masks exist as objects of fascination and beauty. The account was founded in August of 2018 and over its 215 posts, you can find Pat McGrath’s delicate petals and pearls for Givenchy’s Spring 2015 show, James Merry’s entomological masks for Björk, and the work of a wide array of young and established designers and artists. Carina Shoshtary, an artist and mask-maker in her own right, runs the account from Germany, aggregating the most awe-inspiring facial coverings from around the globe.

“The subject of masks and headpieces had fascinated me for a few years already, and I started collecting images of contemporary pieces a while ago to get an idea of what is going on in that field,” she says. “The fact that we usually don’t wear headpieces and masks in daily life, with the exception of hats, seems to give artists more freedom to create quirky extraordinary pieces. I couldn’t find an Instagram page which picked up on the subject with a similar aesthetics to what I am looking for. So I started the ‘fashion for bank robbers’ page to continue my research publicly.”

With around 33,200 followers, the account has grown from a personal research project to a rare corner of social media that’s about beauty over voyeurism. It’s also, thanks to Shoshtary’s specific eye, pretty democratic, with established milliners like Philip Treacy displayed alongside art students and independent designers. “I am looking for a strong authentic artistic expression, great craftsmanship, and a bit of myth and magic,” she says of her curation style.

The rise of masks is not just happening on your iPhone screen either. Shoshtary said the goal of her page is to “promote the work of people who make authentic innovative wearable pieces, to connect with them for potential future projects—I have a couple of ideas—and to inspire other artists to create wonderfully strange things.” It seems to be working. On the Fall 2019 runways, no accessory was more essential than a perfectly strange, totally face-obscuring mask. Gucci made haunting spiked masks. Marine Serre updated the balaclava. Richard Quinn covered up his models in floral scarves. Just wait for the Met Gala on May 6 to see which ones waltz up the grand staircase. It was Susan Sontag herself who said camp art is a decorative art—and what’s more surreally decorative than a mask?

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