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Fashion magazines, influencers weigh in on coronavirus outbreak

Britain's Tatler posted a story with the startling headline: “How to style an epidemic.”
Image: A model presents a creation for Maison Margiela during the 2018/2019 fall/winter collection fashion show
A model wears a creaction by Maison Margiela in February 2018 in Paris. A similar image of the same model was used by Tatler to illustrate a story about coronavirus.Francois Guillot / AFP via Getty Images file

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By Isobel van Hagen

LONDON — How to remain safe and stylish in the midst of the rapidly widening coronavirus epidemic? Fashion magazines and influencers say they have you covered.

Britain's Tatler — a Condé Nast publication — posted a story with the startling headline: “How to style an epidemic.”

The piece acknowledged the coronavirus anxiety by noting, “The social set are now rushing to get their hands on surgical-grade face masks.”

The story also explained that style-lovers may wonder, “How do I stay chic in the event of an epidemic?”

In an examination of the utilitarian, post-apocalyptic look recently popularized on high fashion runways — as well as by global pop stars Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande — it notes that face masks are "preventative pieces available that won’t jeopardize your style.” It lists printed and luxury-fashion brand face mask options sold at British department stores.

A model walks the runway during London Fashion Week 2018 in London. A similar image of the same model was used by Tatler to illustrate a story about coronavirus. Ian Gavan/BFC / Getty Images file

The new coronavirus has killed more than 200 and constitutes a “public health emergency of international concern,” according to the World Health Organization. Netizens' alarm has mounted, meanwhile, with the #coronavirus hashtag reaching about 189,000 posts on Instagram.

In a story headlined, “5 Ways To Avoid Freaking Out About The Coronavirus,” British Vogue offered tips on how to stay comfortable and “keep calm and carry on.”

With health anxiety running high, the venerable fashion brand offered tips to stay healthy and de-stress, such as “honing your good hand hygiene,” while also suggesting luxury soap to “make the job more enjoyable.”

Other suggestions included “Get under a happy lamp,” “Reap the benefits of essential oils” and “Take a herbal hit.”

Condé Nast, which publishes both Vogue and Tatler, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

As the dystopian surgical-mask-as-fashion comes into vogue, combined with mounting anxiety over the virus, Instagram influencers have also been posting pictures of themselves wearing these and offering followers some stress-reducing tips.

At first glance, the influencer view might seem inappropriate given the severity of the health crisis, with hashtags such as #travelblogger, #travel, #coronavirus, #coronavirusoutbreak, and #vlogger crop top-clad poses and muscle-brandishing mask make-out photos.

But beyond that, many influencers — especially in regions currently most affected by the disease — are being highly health conscious and offering practical tips to their followers.

Jada Hai Phong Nguyen, an influencer from Vietnam with 88,900 followers on Instagram, posted a photo wearing a trendy outfit and a sturdy face mask, accompanied by her dog.

In an in-depth post on spreading awareness of the outbreak, she suggests wearing a mask, washing your hands often with soap, and drinking plenty of water, among many other things.

Nguyen told NBC News that she wears a mask every time she goes out, but has recently resorted to something beyond a “normal mask,” referring to the “Cambridge Mask N99 Pro” face mask she recommends in her post. She also wear glasses to protect her eyes and uses hand gel every few minutes.

Influencer "@jeii_pong" struck a pose in a surgical mask in the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, reminding her 422,000 Instagram followers to “put on your mask to protect yourself.”

Instagram user "@Ruckshiii" — whose photo in a velvet jacket and a face mask had been seen across social media platforms as a critical example of people capitalizing on hash-tagging coronavirus — defended her recent coronavirus-related post.

“I didn't dress up for fun or put the mask on for attention. I am extremely health conscious if you knew me you'd know,” she said on Twitter on Tuesday.

“I do understand where this is coming from,” she added. “But I've also seen people too eager to make controversy out of everything.”