Style & Substance to the mask
Hannah Locsin in Times Square, New York.
Style & Substance to the mask
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - September 25, 2020 - 12:00am

And to the max.

La Mascherina Limitado by Fino Leatherware, with its vinta-inspired designs, sailed recently into the fashion scene with vivid flying colors.

“We are very happy to have something new during this time of the pandemic. It is not quite easy for a company like ours, which is in leather goods and luxury, to be starting something new. But I feel it is a gift given to us in the middle of this pandemic,” said Rose Ann Bautista, VP of marketing and retail operations for Fino Leatherware, in an online press conference that also launched the video featuring Filipino model Hannah Locsin as the new face of Fino.

If Hannah is the woman behind the mask walking down the streets of New York City, the man behind the (leather) mask and behind the scenes back here in the Philippines is Rose Ann’s husband Rommel, a doctor of medicine and the brand’s creative director.

“I am also a doctor so I use masks all the time. I also ride motorcycles,” Rommel reveals why he can’t do without masks. “Everyone is asking why leather masks? And my question to them is, why not leather?  Leather is such a novel, noble material. It lasts.”

Fino Leatherware’s La Mascherina Limitado edition.

Fino’s masks have two filters that are washable and the masks may also be sanitized by a special leather cleaner, which Rommel thinks is a safer option to surgical masks when the latter are not disposed of properly.

Since Rommel and Rose Ann believe masks will be part of our lives till a vaccine is in place, they decided that these masks should reflect their provenance and the style of the times.

“Actually, the vinta is one of the cultural aspects that we wanted to promote. It is one of the first modes of transportation here in the Philippines and we want to use certain elements through which Fino can say to the world, ‘This is very Filipino,’” explains Rose Ann.

Rommel gives the credit for the vinta design to fashion stylist Luis Espiritu. “The vinta mask is not my design. It is Luis Espiritu’s concept and creation a few years back for Fino’s vinta collection.  Just when things are hard in the midst of a COVID pandemic, Luis Espiritu finds a way to make things harder for me,” Rommel laughs. “These are very, very difficult products for me.  As you can see there are so many points to it, so many colors, so many stitches. It’s crazy.”

Why the vinta, we ask Luis Espiritu.

“The idea is really creating a piece that’s deeply rooted in Philippine culture, history and tradition, made relevant in modern times. Color has always played an important role in fashion, style and design. In these challenging times, the vibrant hues and tones of the vinta represent a sense of optimism and hope for a brighter and better tomorrow,” believes Luis.

Furthermore, Luis believes the vinta represents the vision and direction of Fino under Rommel and Rose Ann. “The vinta, a vessel of trade and seafaring people in pre-colonial times, parallels with the brand’s visionary ventures into international shores, as it attempts to set sail into the global market.”

Fino Leatherware’s La Mascherina Limitado Vinta series.


La Mascherina Limitado was born from the initial La Mascherina masks, which are still available and are equally stylish. “In collaboration with Luis, we tried to move the bar up to bring out something that’s maybe more dressy than the ones that we have done. And because of this, we were thinking of who to best represent this mask and lo and behold Luis mentioned Hannah’s name! And why not, for how else can we best bring out the uniqueness of the product than with a global Filipina?” points out Rommel.

Rose Ann expresses hope that “maybe someone will know the Philippines just by seeing the design of the masks.”

“We were lucky that Hannah is actually now in New York and this is the first time that Fino goes out of its boundaries. So, Fino actually sent Hannah a few of the La Mascherina Limitado masks, which she took around to her favorite spots in New York. She chose clothes that matched each of her masks and she actually brought them to different locations,” adds Rommel.

Rommel, who does surgery regularly, cautions that the Mascherina mask “was created for ordinary people protection. Unfortunately, we do not have scientific protection to prove that this is equivalent to an N95 mask. However, I will tell you that the filters that I placed in that mask are robust enough to basically take care of you. I don’t recommend it if you are working in the ICU or if you are taking care of COVID patients.”
But if you are not on a medical mission, “You do not need to look like a sick patient wearing a surgical mask. Most of the compliments we received from those who wear Fino leather masks say that they can breathe easy with them. The only time I take it off in the hospital is when I do surgery or I am required by the hospital to wear an N95. But if you are basically just going around or going on errands in the city, going to the bank, going to the grocery, I think that the protection La Mascherina provides is more than adequate. You only wash the filter as opposed  to the surgical mask.”

So how does one wear the La Mascherina to the max?

“I think a person needs three elements,” says Rommel. “One, you need to be quite confident. Two, obviously you need to have a sense of style. Three, you need to have sense of humor. So if you’ll have all those three, I think you’re going to look fantastic.”

How does one unmask one’s style? Luis Espiritu unmasks three fine tips.

Fashion stylist Luis Espiritu.

“Comfort is key, it is top priority. Second, choose quality over quantity no matter what the cost. In the end, it will last. Third, wear local. Pride is something you always wear not just on your sleeve. You stand tall, walk with confident strides and carry it in your heart. There is no shame in self-love.”

And that, dear friends, is how you exude style and substance to the mask.

(You may e-mail me at Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

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