Cover Photo: Courtesy of Collina Strada

Who says you can’t make a statement while being cognisant about our current crisis?

This story was published on June 8, 2020, and updated on August 23, 2021.


 

Face masks have become an essential item in everyday life—but that doesn’t mean your style needs to be sacrificed. In particular, Nigerian designers are leading the way with embellished masks and matching sets: showing us how this accessory can elevate your style. Take Nigerian TV host Folu Storms, who wore a bling-worthy set with a matching mask to the annual AMCVAs on the cusp of the pandemic.

This isn’t the first time masks have been in the spotlight either: Alexander Wang featured them in his first off-season showing back in 2019, and masks have been a staple in Japanese street style in recent years. Even Billie Eilish wore a matching monogrammed mask with her Gucci set at the Grammy Awards last January.

Here are 11 masks you can wear on top of a medical-grade mask that will make you look forward to getting ready while staying safe outdoors.

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Civility

A transparent, high-protection mask dreamed up by a father who wanted to protect his young daughter while seeing her smile, Civility is a reusable and eco-efficient solution to face masks in the age of Covid-19. The project is self-funded by founder Pierre Blondon and developed with an international team of 14 designers and 15 French engineers. The lightweight masks are fitted with high-performance filters and Plastic Elastomer (TPE) seals for airtight circulation while keeping particulates out for clean, unpolluted air, and 70 per cent alcohol wipes are all you need to maintain its cleanliness.

Available for pre-order at Civility.

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The Vampire's Wife

Not only does this matching set come with its own drawstring bag, but you can also purchase the matching dress which is just as chic worn on its own. The double layer of silk offers luxe comfort, with the scallop edging giving the mask a unique touch that is perfect for dinners out.

What's more, 100 per cent of proceeds from the sales of this mask will be donated to WHO’s Covid-Solidarity Response Fund.

Available at The Vampire's Wife

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St. John

This tweed mask will have people doing a double take at the unconventional material which is lightweight and highly durable: perfect for the summer heat. The elastic on the chin highlights your jawline, and extra knitting around the nose adds structure to your face.

Available at St. John

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Le Superbe

Bold and beautiful: the multitude of prints by this Californian designer means that there’s a mask style for everybody. Le Superbe was ahead of the trend; making beautifully designed masks since the need for them as an essential item first arose.

Made from leftover fabrics, look out for a matching shirt to wear with your mask to create a full look.

Available at ShopBop

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Collina Strada

This floral mask will help give back while staying on-trend, with every one of these face masks paying for five masks for healthcare workers in NYC.

Far from your average, the mask features a unique bow as a strap that’s sure to make a statement. With two colour variations and matching clothing available, you can’t go wrong. 

Available at Collina Strada 

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Together We Dance Alone

Want to keep it simple, but don’t want to be boring? This one’s for you. Featuring a clean white graphic from world renowned producer and DJ Dixon’s new brand Together We Dance Alone, this cotton mask is great to pair with more minimal looks.

Available at The List

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Natasha Zinko

Floral and stripes are a classic pattern combination, and work just as great on this face mask, which is available in five different pattern combinations.

All materials are up-cycled, which helps lessen the cost of textile waste. Machine washable, this face mask is an easy option to up any outfit that feels too simple.

Available at Harvey Nichols

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Ash by Ashton Michael

As a celebrity fashion designer and stylist to the stars (think Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez and Post Malone), you know that Ashton Michael's limited-edition mask will be chic.

Designed to be worn on top of medical masks, the mask is made from leather and features adjustable satin straps, matching satin lining and nickel buckles, giving it an edgy yet high-end look which is synonymous with Michael’s style.

The brand also offers a free basic mask pattern for those who want to try their hand at sewing in an effort to help combat the shortage of masks.

Available at Ashton Michael

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Fendi

Monogrammed clothes have had a recent jump in popularity in recent seasons, so it’s unsurprising to see the trend on face masks too.

The Italian luxury fashion house did not disappoint, as this mask is made of 100 per cent silk for both opulence and comfort.

Available at Luisaviaroma

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Onzie

Finding masks made from stretchy, quick-drying and breathable fabric—that are also stylish—may be hard to find, but this assorted pack of two masks by Onzie manages to do both. With sizes for both adults and kids, they're a great solution for anybody looking to add a punch of colour.

Appropriately named “Mindful Masks”, all proceeds will be donated to Centre for Disaster Philanthropy—not to mention the fabric used is upcycled from their deadstock, proving that it isn’t all that difficult to help give back to the community even in a time of need. 

Available at Onzie

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Ai WeiWei

Get your hands on a piece of Ai WeiWei’s work and wear a piece of authentic art, as the Chinese contemporary artist and activist takes to masks as his newest art medium. Ai WeiWei puts together rebellious designs synonymous with his style while acting as an agent of social change.

Handmade in his Berlin studio, each design is silk-screened on cloth masks; and each package comes with an artist’s statement signed by Ai WeiWei himself. All proceeds are split between Human Rights Watch, Refugees International, and Médicins Sans Frontières.

Available at eBay

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Inurface Apparel

Who would've thought Singlish would be so fetching on face masks?

Celebrate local pride and pop culture with these zany and humorous designs from Inurface Apparel that will not only bring a smile to your day, but will also start fun conversations with the people around you.

Available at Inurface

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Luisaviaroma

Live the flower power dream with Luisaviaroma and their pastel-imbued face masks that are pleasing to the eye.

They also have bold and quirky designs often show provocative statements that invoke social change and challenges the status quo such as 'Future is Now' and 'Staying Alive', showing their sense of humour during these trying times.

Available at Luisaviaroma

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Black Lives Matter

You can also get involved in the fight for social change and racial justice with these 'Justice' and 'Black Lives Matter' face masks.

They not only look sleek and minimalist in design, but they also aptly put across the meaningful message of equality for all and they bring to light the longstanding injustice faced by Black communities.

Available at Black Lives Matter