The narrative around masks has changed dramatically in the past seven months. Back in March, when COVID-19 was nearing its peak here in New York, the CDC actually told us not to wear one. By April, they were reevaluating their data, and eventually they reversed their stance completely. Hindsight is 20/20, but looking back, it created a lot of unnecessary confusion. Because now, the message is incontrovertibly clear: Just wear a damn mask.
In case you needed another reminder, consider Vogue’s street style coverage this season. Not everyone in our photos was wearing a mask, but the ones that do will serve as little reminders of the changes we need to keep making to stop the spread. These pictures capture a specific moment in time and our mixed emotions; we’re balancing empathy, caution, and the simple joy of being with colleagues and friends again. Years from now, when COVID-19 is a distant memory, they’ll be the rare street style photos where we can instantly pinpoint the year and what was happening.
In the more immediate future, they also provide a lesson in how models and editors styled their masks with their outfits—which were noticeably more laid-back and casual this time around. One model matched her rainbow splattered mask with similarly colorful utility pants, while Natalia Vodianova paired a floral Paco Rabanne slipdress with a sweet rose-printed mask. A stylish man we saw in Paris coordinated his teal and emerald look with a jewel-toned tropical mask, and another layered a plain mask under a crown of waist-length beads.
But the most popular mask of fashion week? Plain black. Sometimes simplicity—and not needing to think about yet another accessory—is really best. Here, scroll through 25 of the season’s best masked-up street style photos.