“There is a certain humbling nature evoked by modesty.”
Ashley Al Busmait likes to constantly reinvent her style and to test the limits when it comes to fashion. Thanks to her mixed heritage and the humility instilled from her Emirati and Mexican roots, she can experiment with style without compromising on modesty.
Photography: @malfarran – Mohammad AlFarran / Wearing: @katyakovtunovich
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Ashley Al Busmait. I am the girl behind Desert Vogue, an online visual diary dedicated to curating modest fashion looks with an editorial spin. I come from an Emirati/Mexican background and am so proud of my mixed heritage and the angle it allows me to see the world from. I have been a hardcore fashion enthusiast for as long as I can remember. It all started the moment I put on my very first pair of heels. I vividly remember the blue velvet kitten heel and feeling like I could conquer the world as I clumsily took my first steps.
Fast forward 12 years my affection for fashion only grows stronger. I’m on a quest to revolutionize modest fashion by taking my followers on a poetic journey where I express my honest appreciation for fashion as an art form.
My page is a compilation of my muses, my background and my avant-garde and always unpredictable take on modest fashion.
Tell us about your education.
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and now work in Event Management at one of the busiest convention centers in the world. As soon as my daytime job ends, I commit myself to focusing on my Fashion Page.
Where did the name ‘Desert Vogue’ originate from?
The name took about 3-4 months to conceive. It was so important for me to choose a name that represented who I am, which is essentially the story of a girl who emerges from the desert and time travels to different eras in fashion history and takes inspiration along the way. One day I was sitting in the car staring out the window letting my mind wander and the name suddenly came to mind.
Tell us about your blog, Desert Vogue.
My blog is a digital storybook of my love affair with fashion. As a little girl I was always seeking inspiration from different avenues whether it be a fashion magazine, a stylish girl walking past me on the street, or even from a song that sparked an emotion. I often found myself looking back at some of the most iconic eras in fashion and trying to reinvent them with a modest twist without compromising style.
I try to highlight different themes within my blog such as women empowerment and cultural diversity, using fashion to tell a story.
How did you initially get started in the fashion industry?
It all began two years ago when I was chatting with my colleagues in the office and they brought up the idea of starting a blog. I initially hesitated because I was not a social media buff and the thought of being an open book worried me.
Nonetheless, I took a leap of faith and decided to create my page. Post after post I began to engage more with creatives in the industry and venture into a world of art.
Photography: @cedricribeiro – Cedric Ribeiro / Wearing: @bintthani_studio
What message would you like to convey to Arab women or women in general?
Through my blog, I hope to convey to women from all walks of life that fashion can be a positive and powerful reflection of who you are, where you came from, and what you stand for. I often say, “never change for the world, let the world change with you”.
Tell us about some of your collaborations.
•Working with the Hothur Foundation in an effort to raise awareness for acid attack victims by modeling turbans handmade by the survivors themselves.
•Participating in a film project called the Braille Blocks Project by Mahallati Jewellery done to raise awareness for the visually impaired in the UAE. A special line of necklaces were created that included blocks and carefully crafted diamonds that spell out letters in braille.
•A fashion editorial shoot with The Modist. I have been a big fan of the brand direction of the luxury modest online shopping platform and it was a wonderful experience to be a part of their magazine. https://www.themodist.com/en/magazine-post?postid=take-cover
•Very recently I did a photo shoot showcasing Fendi’s Pre-Fall Collection. This shoot was special to me because it was all about representing modern day Arab women. I chose to wear two very contrasting outfits; a power suit and the other a regal feminine cape. The underlying message was to depict how a woman can have multiple personalities, a soft and feminine side and an androgynous masculine side, and that it is indeed okay to be confident to exhibit both.
How do you decide which brands to partner with, and how do you ensure that your fans are receptive to sponsored content?
I decide which brands to work with by identifying a common link between us in terms of the ethos of the brand, the message they are trying to get across and, most importantly, their passion for their craft. It makes me happy to see that my followers appreciate the content that I post and often give me feedback that it inspires them to experiment more with fashion. I’m very close to them, so much so that they send me photos and say, ‘that’s so you’ or ‘have you seen this editorial, you have to try it’. In return, I share mood boards with them of what I think would suit their style. I believe openness and transparency is key.
How would you describe your personal style?
My style is minimalistic, edgy, and polished. I like to constantly reinvent my style and challenge myself by experimenting with new concepts and deriving inspiration from the arts, music, culture and, above all, the great eras in fashion. It is always so exciting for me to test the limits and be daring when it comes to trying out different styles. I would say my style is greatly influenced by a variety of different elements in my life. I enjoy curating unpredictable and bold outfits while paying tribute to modesty that was instilled by my beloved Emirati and Mexican cultures. Another major influence in my style are the great iconic figures from the various decades of fashion from Grace Kelly to my favourite rock band, Guns n Roses, decked out in their rocker gear. Nearly every era has had quite an impression on me.
Do you have fashion rules that you follow when you put an outfit together?
A rule of thumb for me is to have no rules. I have adopted a style approach quite similar to Carrie Bradshaw, where as long as you have the perfect heel on, you can pretty much get away with letting your creativity run wild and free when it comes to your outfit.
Which Social Media platforms do you use?
I use Instagram as my main social media handle in addition to my blog. I have tried getting on the Snapchat bandwagon but I always seem to gravitate back to Instagram for the simple reason of the pool of inspiration that is available right at your fingertips.
What does modest wear mean to you?
The concept of modesty is very close to my heart not only in fashion but as a lifestyle. I have always found there to be a great beauty in being modest in your manners, in your way of dress and ultimately, in the way you carry yourself. There is a certain humbling nature evoked by modesty.
The Abaya holds great meaning to me because it has been worn for decades by the great women of my beloved country. For me, it reflects my identity and radiates sheer elegance.
Photography: @malfarran – Mohammad AlFarran
Name one beauty tip that you live by.
I am currently at a transitional phase where I am taking my mother’s advice and wearing less makeup. I think that a lot of times we are influenced by what we see trending in the media but it’s so important to make sure to be comfortable with the way you choose to present yourself. One tip I would give, to young girls especially, is to focus more on skincare, particularly on organic products and keep makeup quite minimalist. I’ve come to learn that nothing beats natural beauty!
Where are your favourite places in UAE?
It would most definitely either be the beach in the summer or the desert in the winter. When I am amongst nature I feel a great sense of peace.
What are your favourite fashion items that you can’t live without?
It would probably be Cindy Crawford mom jeans circa early 90’s with an oversized white button down or a perfectly tailored menswear inspired pantsuit – à la the glamorous Katherine Hepburn in the 40s. Oh, and I mustn’t forget a pair of black stiletto pumps – you can never ever go wrong with those!
What is one thing people don’t know about you?
Most people are surprised to learn of my strong connection with Texas. My mother was born and raised in the lone star state which explains my undying love for endless cotton fields and country music.
Any exciting 2018 projects that your fans should know about?
I will be re-launching my website (wwww.desertvogue.com) very soon! It will be a more intimate outlook into my journey with fashion for my readers where I will be expressing more of my personality and encourage open discussions. Stay tuned!
Your message for us at CP magazine:
I would like to sincerely thank CP Magazine for allowing me the opportunity to share my story with their readers. I hope that it can ignite a sense of inspiration and encouragement for each person to pursue their dreams in wherever their heart may lie. I would like to leave you with the words of Selena Quintanilla, a woman I so strongly admire, “Be strong minded and always think that the impossible is possible.”
Photography: @malfarran – Mohammad AlFarran< Back