After several attempts, Maria and I finally managed to align our schedules for a morning hang-out. Upon arriving at her apartment, I was warmly welcomed, first by Frankie (the cat), then Luna (her daughter) followed by Maria, who seemed to elegantly and effortlessly glide across the room. As the Accessories Director at Elle I’m sure it comes as no surprise that her style is covetable and her beauty striking, moreover she emits something so kind and calm that you can’t help but feel at ease around her. Born in Madrid and raised in Miami, Maria was destined for two things, to work in fashion and to fall in love at first site. Join us as we lounged and laughed the morning through, talking about terrible 90’s fashion and who are the hottest moms we know!  @mduenasjacobs

Photographer: Lauren Kallen @laurenkallenphoto
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 The first job you ever had: I’ve always been ambitious so when I turned 16 (and got my driver’s license) I applied for jobs! After being rejected by Einstein bagels and Houston’s for having “no experience” I landed a job at a Designer Plumbing and Hardware store (faucets, counter tops etc). Very random, I know, but I was thrilled and learned the foundations of any job – discipline, eagerness, kindness and reliability.

On meeting your husband and his proposal: We met at a bar one evening while out with mutual friends. I swear I fell in love with him the first time I met him (he says the same, but I don’t believe him). We hit it off immediately but he was living in Philadelphia and I was in NY so distance and other factors kept us from reconnecting.  Almost ONE year later he calls me and says “Hey, I’m James’ friend, we met a long time ago. Can I take you out?” By that point, I had basically been scribbling his name in my notebooks for a year and telling all my friends I found my husband so my instant reply was “Yes! When?”. We dated ever since and now we’re 11+ years together (5 married) with one amazing toddler and hopefully more children to come! 

Life pre-baby: Was easy! Of course you don’t know it in the moment but life was spontaneous and carefree…we should have traveled more! My biggest worries surrounded around work and trying to slot in time for yoga and vacations. Now everything is more planned and thought out AND of course there is a lot of worrying when you have a toddler but its the biggest gift! 

Philosophy on motherhood: My colleague, friend and fellow mom once said something that resonated with me. She said she wanted to always set her son up for success. I love the thought of that. Its a big statement but one that is open to interpretation

And what then is success to you?: My goal is to be as patient, present, kind and as involved as possible. I want to teach her everything I know, expose her to as many cultures and places as possible. But most of all I want her to feel loved. 

Most surprising thing about motherhood? How much you can love. It’s immeasurable and unthinkable before you actually experience it for yourself.  


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Did you always know you wanted to be a mom? Yes. I adore children and always have. I think they are the best people in the world.

On your mom, her parenting and personal style: I’m very fortunate to have not only an incredible mom but also a very loving father and siblings. My parents are divorced but even so they always taught us the value and importance of family. My mother worked (mostly freelance) while I was young and I always found that to be inspiring. We spent time with nannies and teachers of course but every time I was with my mom it felt extra special. Her time with us was always maximized- lots of arts and crafts and cooking lessons (she’s a Roman Artist after all)!

First fashion memory with your mom and her influence your style today: My mom is not that into fashion- she never has been. She doesn’t have that shopping bug that my sister and I have but she does have her own style. Growing up (and still to this day) she wears only Black and White. When I was young I thought it was strange. I would say “mom wear some color or florals!” but she liked the idea of a uniform. Of course, now as an adult I love that idea! .

Your mom crush style icons: So many! Emmanuelle Alt, Sarah Rutson, Sofia Coppola, Samira Nasr, Julia Restoin, Caroline de Maigret, Liya Kebede, Kate Moss, Mirasolva Duma…there are so many! 

Your teenage style: I grew up in Miami so my style was in line with 90’s Miami trends…flared jeans, tube tops etc. I’m so happy the internet didn’t exist while I was a teenager so there is not much proof of my ensembles! 

Your teen celeb crush: Luke Perry from 90210 for sure. I had a life size poster in my room when I was 13. 

What career did you want to have as a kid? I always wanted to work at a fashion magazine! 

Advice to your younger self: Not to worry so much. I love the saying “Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but gets you no where!”

On teaching Luna a second language: I only speak to her in Spanish as it’s very important to my family and I that she grow up speaking spanish. Eventually we also hope to teach her Italian so she can speak to the rest of her extended family in Rome! 

Characteristics you value most in people: Kindness and hard work. I think those are two of the most important character traits. Kindness means so much…knowing that every person in the world, no matter who you are, deserves respect and can teach you something! 

Keeps you energized: Sleep. As much as possible.

Your fashion philosophy: Tailored classics with a few splurges every season on favorite trendier designer pieces. 

Three staples of your closet: A great vintage jean, button downs and blazers.

Style and beauty tips for moms on the go: Glossier face tint!  It evens out all the dark parts of your face and is super light.

Favorite brands to shop for Luna: Bonton in Paris!

We hear Luna has her own little collection started…what is your favorite jewelry item that she owns (that you secretly wear)? She has a few pieces that I’ve received as gifts. Lots of moons of course! I came up with a very sweet plan where I am going to buy her one piece of fine jewelry for every birthday and engrave the piece with the age she is turning (for example she is turning 2 in October). My husband and I will write a note to her wishing her a happy birthday and include it in the jewelry box. We will then give them to her one by one when she starts turning 18+ In the meantime, I will add some extra love to the pieces by “borrowing them” until she is ready and responsible enough to wear them! 

Can’t live without: My family.

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