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Fashion: The masked crusaders

Most women know the benefits of a good face mask. But it might be a surprise to learn that this season designers have decreed that a mask should be in your wardrobe as well as your bathroom cabinet. Just when the more forgiving, feminine shapes of spring/summer 2008 were looking suspiciously wearable, Marc Jacobs and Luella Bartley have ensured there will be at least one catwalk trend that will prove a little more challenging for everyday reality.

Fortunately, the sheer variety of styles on offer could make the task easier. Jacobs, for example, used his to high-glamour effect at his show for Louis Vuitton, sending Naomi Campbell and Carmen Kass down the Paris runway in black lace medical masks to complement their PVC nurse outfits. Sexy, if unlikely to make an appearance in a hospital any time soon.

Bartley, meanwhile, added a comic-book touch to her girly geek chic at her London show by using a sleek black Batman mask as an oddly appropriate foil to a punky mini-dress.

Things took a more sculptural turn with young designer Osman Yousefzada, who paired an intricate bronze wire visor, inspired by Burmese tribal wear, with elegant silk dresses.

But the prize for the least wearable face-wear must go to Fashion East's enfant terrible Noki, who closed his collection with some cartoonish, rubber monster masks with purple wigs. Reserved strictly for Halloween — or days when you're looking truly awful. At least this is one trend which you don't have to worry about getting wrong – no one will be able to tell who you are anyway.