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France’s President Emmanuel Macron showed civic responsibility and style can go together when he wore a cloth face mask matching his suit, and with a ribbon in the colours of the French flag, during a visit to a school in Poissy, France. Photo: Reuters

Stylish and made in France, face mask President Macron wore to accessorise his suit raises profile of cloth masks everyone in France will soon be wearing in public

  • Macron wears blue cloth mask featuring a ribbon in red, white and blue, the colours of the French flag, while visiting a school west of Paris
  • Produced in France by Chanteclair, the mask made him look like the Sub-Zero character in Mortal Kombat video games, Twitter users said

With a face mask 100 per cent made in France, President Emmanuel Macron showed the famously fashionable French people that civic responsibility and style are not mutually exclusive.

Macron used a visit to a primary school to promote the type of cloth masks that will be de rigueur on public transport and other locations when France starts emerging from its coronavirus lockdown next week.

The dark blue version Macron wore while visiting the school west of Paris complemented his tie and blue suit, and came embellished on one side with ribbon detail in red, white and blue, the colours of the French flag.

The French presidency said the mask, designed specifically to protect the public from the virus, was produced by knitwear manufacturer Chanteclair and retails for €4.92 (US$5.34.) The French military tested the garment’s breathability and effectiveness in filtering out small particles, the presidency says.

(Clockwise from top left) French President Emmanuel Macron wears a range of face masks as he visits a face-masks factory; a hospital; talks with health workers; and speaks with pupils during a visit to an junior school. Photo: AFP
While some world leaders have been worried about the optics of being seen while masked, Macron previously appeared at public events in surgical masks, both thin ones and heavier strength models.

At the primary school, a child asked “Who is it?” when the president entered a classroom. Macron briefly lifted his cloth mask to reveal his face, then pulled the covering back into place.

How to avoid skin problems from wearing a surgical mask in the heat

He later joked about needing to use hand sanitiser because he touched the mask, which he was not supposed to do.

Macron’s government has been widely criticised for having an inconsistent policy on the civilian use of face masks during the coronavirus pandemic. When the virus first reached Europe, industrial grade masks were requisitioned by the French state and aimed at health workers only.

The government later pushed for home-made cloth masks to be used as alternatives amid a shortage of commercially made medical masks.

Macron wore this French-made cloth mask, which complemented his tie and blue suit, while visiting a school west of Paris this week. Photo: Reuters

Paper and cloth masks, including the model Macron and Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer debuted on Tuesday, went on sale at French supermarkets this week in anticipation of their widespread use from May 11 onwards.

The president’s accessory, as well as his handling of it, succeeded in attracting attention on social media.

A photo taken of the French leader when he had the mask pulled down below his nose prompted one observer to note that despite being “rather stylish”, the covering made a poor barrier to infection if nostrils were exposed.

Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova wears a crushed raspberry pink mask that matches her outfit outside the presidential palace in Bratislava. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Other commentators tweeted that Macron looked like a villain or the Sub-Zero character in the Mortal Kombat video games.

Images of Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova wearing a crushed raspberry pink mask matching her outfit to the new prime minister’s swearing-in ceremony in March went viral on Twitter.

The governor of Bavaria in Germany, Markus Soeder, wore a mask in the blue and white lozenge-print of the state flag. Photo: Sven Hoppe/DPA

In Germany, the governor of Bavaria, Markus Soeder, wore a mask in the blue and white lozenge-print of the state flag to several public appearances.