French fashion houses to produce coronavirus masks

Yves Saint Laurent is one of several luxury design houses that will start making surgical masks to combat the coronavirus "as soon as the manufacturing process and materials have been approved by the relevant authorities," said parent company Kering

French design houses Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga will shift their attentions from high fashion to producing surgical face masks to aid the global coronavirus assault, their parent company Kering said.

"The French workshops of Kering's houses Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent are preparing to manufacture masks while complying with the strictest health protection measures for their staff members," Kering said in a statement posted on its website.

Production will get underway "as soon as the manufacturing process and materials have been approved by the relevant authorities," it said.

Kering also said it would purchase three million masks from China and import them for the French health services.

Another Kering company, Gucci, has committed to donating 1.1 million masks and 55,000 protective medical gowns to aid Italy's fight against the coronavirus, the statement said.

Kering recently said it expected to lose several hundred million euros in the first quarter of 2020 because of the global pandemic, with hundreds of millions of people worldwide in home confinement.

Its French rival LVMH has for its part launched into the production of sanitising hand gel for hospitals at three perfume and cosmetics factories in France.