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The Masks for Masks Project sells stylish masks and donates medical grade protective gear to frontliners at the same time


In the 1600s, physician to the French royals, Charles de l’Orme, created a protective suit to protect plague doctors from acquiring the disease when treating patients. The suit came with a waxen long overcoat, a cane to avoid direct contact, and another item we’re all too familiar with—the face mask shaped like a bird’s cranium.

As creepy as it may seem, the mask was a key piece in protecting health workers from the airborne disease during the time. It had round openings for the eyes and a beak stored with dried flowers, herbs, and spices to filter away miasma or “bad air.” After the plague, the bird-shaped mask became a character seen in theatrical performances in commedia dell’arte. Today, it’s still worn for carnival and festivals in Venice, Italy.

Much like the plague doctors’ mask, our current medical grade mask was once a symbol of fear and isolation. But as we continuously fight the coronavirus today, it now depicts solidarity, hope, and culture.

The mandatory wearing of face masks when going outside is now the “new normal” for everyone. Though it is not the first time a face mask graced the world of fashion, we are now living in a time a face mask could be one’s sole identifier, as plastic protective covers and eyewear cover most facial character indicators.

The Masks for Masks Project is born out of this need of giving face masks a stylish makeover. The multi-designer campaign also provides a way for everyone to donate medical grade N95 masks to health workers. Spearheaded by fashion designer Esme Palaganas for online shopping platform Basic Movement, the initiative also lists fellow designers Raxenne Maniquiz and Vina Romero, and brands Ha.mü, Randolf, and ProudRace as main collaborators.

“Fashion and design have always been a reflection of the times,” Basic Movement says. “During this uncertain year of our lives, we would like to support our frontliners, keep creativity alive, and still put artistry at the forefront.”

These designers and brands are creating non-medical grade, reusable masks for sale. For every purchase, they will use their marketplace commission fees to donate five N95 masks to medical frontliners through the Faceshield Drive Plus Team.

To learn more about The Masks for Masks Project, Manila Bulletin Lifestyle chats with ProudRace’s creative director Rik Rasos on how the initiative started and what goes into the masks the brand produces.

What made ProudRace participate in The Mask for Mask Project?
When the lockdown started, we already found ways to help our displaced workers. We also started donating non-medical grade face masks to our community. So when Esme Palaganas offered this opportunity for us to donate medical grade face masks to frontliners, we did not think twice and decided to join the project.

How long has ProudRace worked on the project?
We developed the designs in a week. We just wanted to make it conceptual for it to look like a collection. It’s a continuous inventory so when stock is sold out we produce again. We are also thinking about releasing new designs in batches.

What materials did you use?
We used Japanese twill for all the masks. Two of the masks are repurposed care tags and studio tags, previously used to identify our archived pieces. The black version is made from US cotton suede.

Are your masks only available at Basic Movement?
Yes, everything will be coursed through the Basic Movement website. This is a great initiative started by Esme. With hope, it will be a continuous project even after the pandemic.

The face masks are available for purchasing at For designers and brands interested to join the project, send an email to with “Masks for Masks” as the subject.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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