COVID-19 Global Diaries: 'We're fashion designers making PPE for frontliners'

In the Czech Republic and Malaysia two fashion designers are sewing their way to saving lives

fashion designers making PPE

In the Czech Republic and Malaysia two fashion designers are sewing their way to saving lives

'Making these kind of gowns is meaningful and fulfilling'

Celest Thoi joined forces with other local fashion designers to use their skill to help the medics of Malaysia.

fashion designers making PPE

Celest Thoi sewing

'As local designers of Moda (Malaysian Official Designers’ Association), we have come together and are all working on crafting PPE (personal protection equipment) gowns and masks for our frontliners. United as one, we sew from the comfort of our own homes while these frontliners are risking their lives helping affected patients. We have to help, we cannot let them fall – for if they fall, we fall. Making these gowns of a different kind, gowns that save lives, is meaningful and fulfilling!'

'I'm sewing masks for those in need'

Petra Balvínová is a Czech fashion designer who began sewing face masks with her team immediately after her government directive on their use came into effect. Face masks are to be worn in public at all times, yet they are extremely scarce.

fashion designers making PPE

Petra in the process of making a new mask

'I began sewing masks on Sunday, 15 March. I called my seamstresses, and asked them if they would help me. Then I posted on Facebook that we would gladly make a mask for anyone who wanted one, for free. In half an hour all my accounts on social media were flooded with thousands of requests. I kept telling myself: 'That’s enough!' But I couldn’t really stop. I finally collapsed from exhaustion.

I didn’t want a queue in front of my boutique, so I suggested appropriate intervals and explained to everyone through a glass door how to insert a filter and how to put the mask on. We need to slow down the increase in infected people and obey the quarantine rules. I don’t think I did something special, everybody is helping. Everybody is sewing!'

Niamh McCollum

Niamh McCollum is Features Assistant at Marie Claire UK, and specialises in entertainment, female empowerment, mental health, social development and careers. Tackling both news and features, she's covered everything from the rise of feminist audio porn platforms to the latest campaigns protecting human rights.

Niamh has also contributed to our Women Who Win series by interviewing ridiculously inspiring females, including forensic scientist Ruth Morgan, Labour MP Stella Creasy and ITV’s former Home Affairs Editor Jennifer Nadel.

Niamh studied Law in Trinity College Dublin. It was after enrolling in a Law & Literature class on her year abroad in Toronto that her love of writing was reignited. In no particular order, her big likes are Caleb Followill, hoops, red wine, sea swimming, shakshuka and long train journeys.