Best Face Forward

Bringing new meaning to “must-have,” the pandemic has ushered in a new trend — blinged out face masks, cloth coverings, PPE, shields, neck gaiters, bandanas — whatever you decided to wear, these unexpected fashion accessories can literally save lives.

Words by Jorge Arauz
Opener photo: Cristina Sullivan
Location: Museum of Graffiti

Monica Pardo

Monica Pardo Events

Monica Pardo tries to wake up each day with a renewed optimism. “I thank my lucky stars every morning that I’m still happy and healthy,” she says. “The first order of the day is picking out my outfit, which now includes a face covering. I literally have every color and style imaginable — from sequins to hanging jewels, flowers, animal prints and everything in between. I’m embracing this new accessory with open arms to not only protect all those around me from this horrible virus but to continue moving forward and sharing my shine with the world!”

Alessandra Zogbi                  

The Ale Style 

In the middle of the pandemic, Alessandra Zogbi let her designer side and creative mind soar. “My friend and I decided to design our own mask line and a super useful and important accessory — a mask string holder that combines style with comfort,” she says of her new Shop DRAGEE collection. “If you’re going through a rough time, finding something to give you a little lift can help you remember that life isn’t always bad and this too shall pass.”

Iman Hasan

Iman Hasan Creative 

Some of Imam Hasan’s favorite local brands to buy masks from are Just Bee Queen and Pitusa, among many others. “I also support Heroine Sport because they have an amazing cause,” she says. “When you buy 3 masks from their website, they donate 3 masks to people in need to help with the pandemic.” She believes brighter days are just ahead, and she aims to maintain an optimistic outlook each and every day. “Perspective and mindset is everything,” she says. “Even if the whole world seems to be falling apart right now, look at the positive aspects of your life, and always lead with gratitude.”

Jhon Jairo Santos

Fashion Stylist & Art Director

Back when the lockdown and safer-at-home orders were sweeping the nation, Jhon Jairo Santos and a friend came up with an idea for a mask-making business. They began creating original designs out of designer shoe dust bags and quickly evolved into higher-quality designs that are reversable and feature elaborate details and materials. “I encourage everyone to take the time to sit back, relax and meditate,” he says. “In order to see the beautiful colors of the rainbow, we have to go through the storm.” 

Javier Maudet

Amigos Near Foundation

Once Javier Maudet purchased his first black mask, he realized how shocking it is for kids to see people in pubic wearing masks, so he decided to improve it by adding a red nose. “I’ve only gotten smiles from both children and adults since,” he says. “Through my Amigos Near Foundation, we’ve sent many masks to children in need in Haiti and have also given away many here in Miami. It’s very important that we all wear our masks — do it for yourself, for your friends and family, do it for that person you don’t know, but whose life you ma end up saving by covering up.”

Mariela Bagnato 

Mariela Bagnato Beauty & Shop

When it comes to expressing herself through her masks, some days Mariela Bagnato feels more classic, other days it’s all about street wear, plain makeup and being laid back and fabulous. “When my mood is more creative, I protect myself with a colorful mask and create an entire look around the design,” she says. “Masking up is a little gesture that helps make a big difference — now more than ever, we need to protect ourselves and others.”

Danié Gomez-Ortigoza 

Journey Of A Braid

Right before the pandemic began, Danié Gomez-Ortigoza bought herself a sewing machine. “At that time, I would have never imagined how important it would be to own,” she says. “Once the mask mandates began, I drew myself a pattern and created my own masks using upcycled materials. I used the embroidery of one of my old t-shirts to make a happy mask, with a little heart on the side. Facial covers have become the only way for us to continue to engage with those we love, and together we will get through this.”

Kayla Barrera

Swire Properties

Encouraging everyone to “Keep calm, and wear a mask,” Kayla Barrera has recently upped her mask game significantly. “ I love pairing my mask chains from @KasaKarly and @Mask_Glam with different masks,” she says. “It’s now my favorite accessory because you can wear them in so many different ways and it upgrades your mask look!” During these tough times, she wants everyone to show what respect and empathy truly means. “The world is in this together, so we can overcome this together!”

Kara Lundgren

Hospitality Executive

Kara Lundgren could have never predicted that masks would become the next great global fashion trend, but she gladly embraced it — in a big way! “I’ve lost count of how many masks have,” she says. “I pair them with my outfits, my earrings, my shoes — I especially love reversible ones and prefer neck gaiters for travel…they are the most comfortable when you have to spend a few hours in the sky.” Words of advice during these challenging times? She turns to Coco Chanel, of course: “If you’re sad, add more lipstick and attack!”

Grace Aguado

Your Face By Grace

Many of the face coverings that Grace Aguado has purchased during the pandemic have benefitted charity, like her favorite pink one created by local artist Ahol Sniffs Glue for Lotus House. “Not only do I feel like it’s great to always give back and help those less fortunate but I love that so many of my clients ask me about my mask and it gives me the opportunity to spread the word about the charity,” she says. “We are all in this together, let’s do our part and show respect to each other by wearing a face mask and staying safe wherever life takes us.” — Photo by The Picture Cottage

Nathalie Cadet-James

Luxe Fête Social

Believing in function over form, Nathalie Cadet-James’ primary consideration for any mask she wears is how effective it is in protecting against COVID-19 and whether it is breathable. “A mask designation of N95 or higher is important to me — but on the other hand, the creative side of me would love to have an elegant mask that I can personalize,” she says, mentioning the reusable mask she has been wearing for several months from Octo Safety. “I recently added silk flowers to my mask and when I clean it again and change the design, I’ll likely add spikes!” She believes we are all resilient creatures, whether we believe we are or not. “I find it helpful to let go of expectations and just work toward a small goal each day,” she says. “Change is the one constant — we must adjust. We got this!”

Charlie Rincon

Charlie Rincon Stylist

In-demand Fashion Stylist Charlie Rincon’s favorite mask was made by an emerging artist named Jo Nanajian, who creates large pieces of abstract human figures in charcoal and acrylic paint. “She’s been making custom masks with her art printed on them for a couple of years now and recently introduced elements such as chains, studs and pearls,” he says. “It’s kind of a tough punk vibe which I love.” He encourages others to take this time to express their creativity. “Try new ideas, get creative and make art,” he says. “Step out of your comfort zone and try new looks at home that you didn’t dare to wear before! You may be surprised at the results!” 

Susset Cabrera

Peacock Public Relations

After a successful decade dominating the PR world on both coasts, Susset Cabrera knows a thing or two about the power of first impressions. “When deciding on which mask to wear, I always choose a design that reflects my personal style and gives back to the community in some way,” she says, mentioning Balia Wear and Vanessa “Queen of Crafty” Rodriguez as some of her local favorites. “Life may throw us a curve ball, but there’s always a way to stay in the game and even win!” — Photo by Flavia Molinari

Gotmar Giron

Bal Harbour Shops

When shoppers visit Bal Harbour Shops, they are welcomed with a complimentary fashion mask with the landmark shopping mecca’s logo. Gotmar Giron says they are her go-to masks. “They are ultra-soft and uber chic masks available in black and white,” she says. “When I want a pop of color, I gravitate toward the bold, multi-colored graphic styles of ETRO Bal Harbour, where 20% of proceeds support food initiatives for those in need.” She adds: “We must always remember that there will be many suddenly moments ahead. Where suddenly the tide will turn, and suddenly you will be restored again — your story will end in victory, and you are going to come out of this with a new fire. Keep hoping, expecting and believing.”

Jenny Berger


Miami Blogger Jenny Berger estimates she’s acquired about 10 masks since the pandemic. “I love my Billie Blooms Lip Mask and the plaid mask I got after purchasing a pair of shorts from Rails, which I thought was such a nice touch,” she says. “Another favorite is from Ashley Stambouli — my kids and I have matching masks from her collection!” Looking toward the future, she says we all need to continue doing our part. “Everyone needs to wear masks to reduce the spread of the virus — and it’s very important we wear them correctly over our nose,” she says. “There’s definitely a light at the end of the tunnel — we must all continue to care for one another by wearing our masks and social distancing as much as we can!” 

Luiz Moreira


When wearing masks became more commonplace, a friend of Luiz Moreira’s, DaRius Kenon, who is a designer, started to sell several masks with printed fabrics. “The first one I bought is reversible and has two very different designs,” he says. “It allows me to choose which side I want to wear each day. I never imagined I would need to have this routine of wearing masks, but if its something necessary to protect myself and protect the health of others, then it’s worth it. We must all stay strong throughout these challenging times.”

Renata Fonseca

Personal You

Image Consultant & Personal Stylist Renata Fonseca wants people to understand that wearing a mask is not about themselves, but about others. “If you ask me today what the most important accessory is, I would say without hesitation, it’s a mask,” she says. “Until the threat of this pandemic has been neutralized, we should all embrace the face mask — it’s during these trying times that the very best of human nature will prevail.”