Luxury retailer Louis Vuitton is launching a $961 — it’s listed for 750 British pounds — plastic face shield for those who prefer to strut to the grocery store in designer wares. The pricey piece of personal protective equipment (PPE), meant to block aerosolized droplets from sick passersby, will be on sale starting Oct. 30, at select locations, as part of the French brand’s 2021 Cruise Collection.
LV hyped the shield as “an eye-catching headpiece, both stylish and protective,” in a statement.
The hard plastic covering doubles as a hat — it can be flipped up, like a visor — and features LV-embossed gold studs, a monogrammed elastic head strap, and trim in the brand’s signature “LV” print. The LV Shield will protect the wearer from the sun’s rays, too: The clear covering transitions from clear to dark in bright light.
This isn’t fashion’s first foray into combatting the coronavirus.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, designer brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Armani, Bulgari and Prada re-tooled their assembly lines to make PPE, such as masks and medical overalls, for under-geared medical workers. Vuitton also donated 2,500 white cloth masks to MTA workers in May, and manufactured hand sanitizer for the masses out of their perfume factories in March.
Now, it’s business as unusual, with sky-high prices for souped-up virus gear. Burberry was the first: The fashion house released face masks in their classic tartan, in beige and white, for $115 (or £90) in August.
One man in India commissioned a $4,000 gold face mask, while hipsters in Brooklyn are forking over $300 for a bespoke mask from a Crown Heights-based couturier. New Yorkers on a budget are finding ways to dress up their own masks with matching outfits or crafting homemade designer look-a-likes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is careful to point out that when it comes to a face shield, “effectiveness is unknown at this time,” although Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested stocking up on the face barriers back in July. Medical-grade ones, sans designer branding, can be purchased for around $25.
For their part, Louis Vuitton, part of Bernard Arnault’s luxury empire, LVMH, has been co-opted before for medical needs for those with a taste for the finer things.
In 2013, British fashionista Sian Green-Lord was hit by a taxi in New York City and was forced to amputate her right leg. This past January, she had her prosthetic upholstered in the signature LV fabric, salvaged from a vintage purse she bought off of eBay.