According to French law, wearing a face covering is an offence that is punishable with a penalty of one year in prison and a 150 euro fine. But it looks like there are a few exceptions.
Cardi B rolled up in front of the Eiffel Tower during fashion week wearing what is probably her most experimental look yet: a head-to-toe flower-printed Richard Quinn outfit that might have just cemented the rapper’s position as fashion’s latest muse.
“I’m here to serve it to you cold,” she said in an Instagram video of her strutting down the road in her look, surrounded by a pack of paparazzi excitingly snapping photos of her. “Make sure a car don’t hit me, because a bitch can’t see,” she added. And if it weren’t for her familiar voice and snarky tone, the rapper would have remained completely unrecognizable. Her ensemble, made of a belted boxy jacket, a pleated skirt, and tights was topped off with a matching scarf and face mask.
This was a major moment for Cardi. The internet was set ablaze with everyone talking about her look, just like the day she wore that archival Mugler couture dress during last year’s Grammy Awards. But had she been anywhere but Paris (or any of the 15 other countries where face-coverings are banned), her Richard Quinn look would have been just another one of her bold fashion moves.
France was the first European country to ban face coverings in 2011. The law was instantly deemed anti-Muslim, but officials argued that it wasn’t to target Muslim women wearing hijabs and niqabs and applied to all citizens. Today, more and more French towns and cities also have a ‘burkini ban’ in place. Cannes for example has prohibited women from wearing “beachwear ostentatiously showing a religious affiliation while France and places of religious significance are the target of terror attacks.”
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a slew of Muslim women made to undress or arrested for wearing face coverings or burkinis, and a debate over their freedom has been ongoing ever since. Proponents argue for secularism and see face coverings as a threat to France’s security.
As for those who disapprove, it’s increasingly clear that has been made to target Muslim women in particular. As one twitter user put it: “is anyone going to raise security concerns about Cardi B fully covering herself or does that argument only apply to Muslim women in niqab?”
The reality is, for normal people living their normal lives, wearing an outfit like Cardi B’s is impossible without repercussions. Yet, the rapper covering every inch of her body only serves as a fashion statement. Cardi B is not to be held accountable, however. Her ensemble is just a catalyst in an ongoing conversation surrounding a law that is growing less and less discreet in its discrimination towards Muslims in France.