speaker nancy pelosi nr 01 06102020
Pelosi claims Georgia voting issues could be 'by design'
04:29 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

The first few weeks after the global pandemic shut down life as we knew it, Chris Lewis thought it might be a good idea to make face masks.

“At first, it wasn’t so serious, it was just for fun. We were making masks for our regular customers who might want them,” said Lewis, the owner of a small upscale clothing boutique in Alexandria, Virginia, which is named for his wife, Donna Lewis.

Lewis had his local tailors make masks from remnants of the fine Italian fabrics he purchased for clothes, never really thinking they would become a major part of his business. But then one of his regular customers – Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House – requested a few.

“She said, ‘Chris, pick me out some, send me about four or five,’” said Lewis. “Since then, whoosh, like a rocket – it’s been overwhelming.”

In photographs and television appearances over the last several weeks, especially as Congress has gotten back to work in the reopened Capitol, Pelosi has been matching her masks to her outfits. A pink pantsuit with a pink mask, a black dress with a green palm-frond pattern mask, a fuchsia look with a red floral mask, and so on.

Pelosi’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the press conference to announce that H.R. 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, would be voted on in the House of Representatives on June 26, 2020.

Many of the masks have the Donna Lewis label positioned on the outside, a small tag with the name of the shop in chic lowercase black lettering that, turns out, is big enough for people to read from an image.

“Oh, all over. Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Europe,” said Lewis, rattling off the broad geographic scope that Pelosi fans have emailed or called him from to order the masks. “She has quite a following.”

Lewis hasn’t kept an exact count, but estimated he’s sold at least 6,000 masks to date, at $22 each. For every mask purchased, he said, one is donated to the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

What Pelosi wears has several times gotten the attention of national press – including the burnt orange coat with the stand-up collar she wore exiting the West Wing of the White House after a contentious December 2018 meeting with President Donald Trump. There were so many inquiries about Pelosi’s outerwear that the designer, Max Mara, made the rare decision to re-issue the coat three years after the style had been retired.

“She has a way about her,” said Lewis, whose store Pelosi has frequented for several years for tailored suits and dresses. “I know the colors she wears, and I knew she would know just how to wear the masks.”

First lady Melania Trump wears a face mask as she sits aboard Marine One with President Donald Trump before they depart from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.

Of course, there are those in Washington for whom a mask isn’t a style statement. Melania Trump, for example, doesn’t stray from her medical masks, said a White House official.

The clinical white disposable mask is the first lady’s preferred protective accessory; the public has yet to see her in any other color or pattern than the one she wore in April in a video demonstrating the guidance for face coverings. A CNN photographer captured her in a similar mask in May, aboard Marine One. She had walked to the helicopter across the South Lawn with the President, mask-less, and then slipped it on once she was seated on board.

Ivanka Trump, first daughter and adviser to President Donald Trump, tours the distribution center of Coastal Sunbelt Produce May 15, 2020 in Laurel, Maryland.

Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, has been photographed several times in a mask, some made from patterned fabric, some a basic black. They are all made in the United States, said a White House official with knowledge of Trump’s mask habits.

Trump has opted at times to accessorize her mask with a personal touch, adding the same American flag pin to the upper corner of her black mask that she wore on the day of her father’s inauguration, that time affixed to the front of her white dress.

With most of the country still unable to shop in stores and malls in the same way they could pre-Covid 19, masks have for some become an outlet for the fashionably frustrated, an expression of taste and style. “I’m making a bunch of new ones for summer,” said Lewis, who adds Pelosi will get some of the new batch, which include a yellow, pink and green tropical pattern, and an abstract bold blue and white. “She seems to like anything with color. It makes wearing them fun.”