WHEN Nicholas James Brown prepares to go out for cocktails at the Tribeca Grand or to a clambake in the Hamptons, he sticks on a few boldly patterned Band-Aids by the Brazilian fashion designer Alexandre Herchcovitch.
To Brown, 24, who works at Esquire magazine in New York, the colorful strips are an important accessory, and he's careful to coordinate them with his Kris Van Assche sweater or his Balenciaga bag. He generally wears one on his left hand or arm and balances it out with two or three on his right leg.
He doesn't put them on his face because, he said, "I don't want people thinking, 'What happened?' " And if anyone does ask what he's done to himself to need all of those bandages?
"I'll lie and say, 'I have a cut,' " he said.
For most everyone over the age of 5, it's unfathomable to use a bandage purely as body art. But since the adhesive strip has been upgraded by designers like Herchcovitch or studded with Swarovski crystals, some adults have begun to view it as they would a bracelet or spray tan, as adornment.
"Even if you don't have a cut, bandages are a great way to make a statement that doesn't break the bank," said Chris Bick, an owner of FredFlare.com, which sells lip-shaped bandages. "It's kind of like a temporary tattoo that gets you sympathy."
Herchcovitch's designs for the Band-Aid brand hit the shelves of Opening Ceremony in New York and Los Angeles last month. Within a week, 120 boxes sold out, at $10 each.
But Herchcovitch, who is so smitten with bandages that he has a tattoo of one on an arm, is not the first designer to take on the former wound barrier. For a time, Marc Jacobs sold $2 packages of bandages printed with "Ouch!" and "Boo! Boo!" in a box that said "That's Gonna Leave a Marc." (They are still to be had on eBay.)
And Fabian Seibert, a German designer, decorates bandages with Swarovski crystals and sells them online at www.suelzkotlett.de and at stores in Europe, including Galeries Lafayette in Paris.
Plenty of adults don't wait until they see blood to don a bandage. At the Los Angeles premiere of "The X-Files: I Want to Believe," the actress Bai Ling paraded down the red carpet with beige bandages on her shins that she had decorated herself.
Last winter, a museum store in Vienna sold 100 of Seibert's crystal-studded bandages to women who said that they intended to paste them in the vicinity of their décolletage and wear them to the opera ball.
Of course, novelty bandages, made to look like, say, pickles or yellow police tape, have been around for at least seven years. And free-spirited adults have long worn children's cartoon bandages. But your colleague in the Dora the Explorer print was probably covering up an actual cut.
Patricia Graf, a designer in Aachen, Germany, wears Seibert's designs as a ring, on a foot or under an eye as a sparkly version of a football player's greasy black stripe. Somebody once offered to buy her bandage from her at a party.
"Gross," Graf told this reporter. "It was used."
As for Brown, he's worried his supply is running low (he bought only six boxes, after all) and plans to use them sparingly from now on. New York Fashion Week is just four weeks away, and for that, he said, "I definitely have to be rocking a bandage somewhere visible." More Articles in Fashion & Style » A version of this article appeared in print on August 7, 2008, on page G3 of the New York edition.
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