We may be required to mask our faces, but we still can use this time to express ourselves. From designer fabrics, to elaborate lace, the creative community has jumped on board to bring a little happiness and expression to the situation. Whether you are an animal lover who prefers a paw print mask, or a fan of vintage chic, designers have you covered. Moving beyond utility and into the fashion world. We found the following makers with Oakland Park connections who are thinking outside of the box and inside the mask.
Maria Contessa used to tour with the rock band KISS as their costume designer, so it was only a matter of time before she began expressing her creative designs with couture face masks. Her designs are bold. Featuring lace, rhinestones, and tulle flowers, Maria’s facemasks are anything but boring, which is what we would expect from a costume designer of rock stars. She can be reached at 954-763-9666 for special orders.
Kenley Collins is an Oakland Park native who currently resides in northeast Fort Lauderdale. Star of Bravo’s Season 5 hit show Project Runway, Kenley began making face masks when she heard Mayor Cuomo on the news asking anyone with sewing skills to make masks. She did her research and began making CDC compliant cotton face masks from her custom 2017 Circus Collection fabrics. She was excited because she knew they would be special and different.
Her design process includes painstakingly cutting each fabric to ensure the special designs, such as the lace flowers, will be front and center on each mask. She recently added a handsome menswear collection as well. Each mask is truly unique and custom. They are available for purchase at http://www.kenleycollins.com/
Victoria Olson is an Oakland Park resident, theater costume designer for the New World Symphony, and an active member of the theater union. When the nurses’ union called for action, Olson knew she could use her unique skill set to help health care professionals. Her fabrics are donated, and she works tirelessly to craft each one for those on the frontlines.
Her combination of skills has led her to make hundreds of face masks for healthcare professionals with bold, bright, and fun patterns for first responders. She does not take orders, rather she has chosen to donate every single mask to those in need.
Groovy face masks by Kerry Szymanski. Groovy face masks started of need, her former college roommate is a nurse and she found herself wanting to give back. Featured on Deco Drive for her custom purse boutique, SassyBB.com, Szymanski who is also a sewing instructor, comedian, and marketing professor, began donating face masks to friends and family and from there, her love for sewing was revived. Masks are available for sale but she donates to essential employees, most recently cashiers. She offers a range of reversible cloth facemasks, from mustache prints to superheroes with clever names that run in limited editions. Check out the Panda-emic fabric and mustache print. Coming soon will be a Mother’s Day limited edition floral collection. https://www.groovyfacemasks.com/
Sew What, Inc’s owner Paul Michael, is a men’s tailor with a studio in right here in downtown Oakland Park. Seeing the need, he began designing and selling his unique face masks using nylon stretch fabric used in his men’s bathing suit line. His custom designs range from sugar skulls to limited edition turquoise digital camouflage and are third generation fabrics. They can be found at the website https://www.gettwett.com/
While we navigate our new normal and take time to reflect on who we are, don’t forget to have a little bit of fun along the way. While Face masks can be a downer, Marc Jacobs once said, “Fashion means nothing until someone lives in it.”
Rhiannon Samoyedny was born and raised in South Florida. She has lived in Oakland Park for over 25 years and purchased her home in Garden Acres in 2012 where she resides with her husband, two teenaged boys, a few rescue cats, and her dog.
Her professional career began as a project manager and estimator for a small Oakland Park construction company and she later went on to earn her degree in Court Reporting, where she later incorporated her own small business RS Reporting, Inc.
She has a passion for gardening and attends many horticulture classes and workshops. She is also an LGA (Local Government Academy) graduate, class of 2019, and an active community volunteer and activist. You can usually find her around town at various Oakland Park meetings and events with her notebook, so be sure to say hello.