France's Macron makes mask-wearing an act of national pride

President Emmanuel Macron has shown the famously fashionable French people that civic responsibility and style are not mutually exclusive

The dark blue version Macron wore while visiting the school west of Paris complemented his tie and blue suit, and came embellished on one side with ribbon detail in red, white and blue, the colors of the French flag.

The French presidency said the mask, designed specifically to protect the public from the virus, was produced by knitwear manufacturer Chanteclair and retails for 4.92 euros ($5.34.) The French military tested the garment's breathability and effectiveness in filtering out small particles, the presidency said.

While some world leaders have been worried about the optics of being seen while masked, Macron previously appeared at public events in surgical masks, both thin ones and heavier strength models.

At the primary school, a child asked “Who is it?" when the president entered a classroom. Macron briefly lifted his cloth mask to reveal his face, then pulled the covering back into place.

He later joked about needing to use hand sanitizer because he touched the mask, which he was not supposed to do.

The government later pushed for homemade cloth masks to be used as alternatives amid a shortage of commercially made medical masks.

Paper and cloth masks, including the model Macron and Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer debuted on Tuesday, went on sale at French supermarkets this week in anticipation of widespread use starting May 11.

The president's accessory, as well as his handling of it, succeeded in attracting attention on social media. A photo taken of the French leader when he had the mask pulled down below his nose prompted one observer to note that despite being “rather stylish,” the covering made a poor barrier to infection if nostrils were exposed.

Other commentators tweeted that Macron looked like a villain or the Sub-Zero character in the “Mortal Kombat ”video games.

Images of Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova wearing a crushed raspberry pink mask matching her outfit to the new prime minister's swearing-in ceremony in March went viral on Twitter.

In Germany, the governor of Bavaria, Markus Soeder, wore a mask in the blue and white lozenge-print of the state flag to several public appearances.