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Vietnamese designers put style into coronavirus face masks

Designers in Vietnam are creating hand-embroidered and stylish face masks, hoping to convince people to don protective gear in the fight against coronavirus.

Wearing a face mask in public is mandatory in Vietnam and authorities are fining anyone who flouts the rules.

But foreigners and tourists, in particular, have been spotted out and about unmasked.

Do Quyen Hoa, a fashion designer in Hanoi hopes her eye-catching creations embroidered with flowers, insects and animals will help people think differently about wearing protection.

"Some foreigners are still very doubtful about wearing face masks because they think only people who have diseases wear them.

"So I want these beautiful patterns to change their mind," she said of her hand-made pieces, which take three days to make.

"I want the facemask to be not just a mask, it can be a fashion item for men and women," Hoa told AFP.

Hoa's cotton masks cost $21 (€19) each -- significantly more than an average Vietnamese could afford -- but she already received 200 orders in March.

For Nguyen My Tra, a journalist who has always had an interest in textiles, making her own silk masks using traditional patterns has become a family affair.

Her daughter, eight-year-old Nguyen Tra My, who dreams of becoming a fashion designer, helps her with sewing while her son cuts the cloth. Both have been off school since the coronavirus outbreak began in January.

"When the three of us work together to make masks, it connects us and makes us love each other more," Tra said, "and people who were given these masks told me that they feel happy, instead of being worried."

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