Asma O Dasan

asma_portrait_bw.jpgUnderstanding the nexus of fashion, religion and culture

Asma Dasan understands the power of clothing. As a young woman of Muslim Palestinian descent, she wears her hijab every day and understands it’s an important identifier of her religion and culture. 

She discovered her interest in fashion in high school when she began to paint and illustrate dresses using a croquis fashion figure sketching template. Although she wasn’t a natural artist, she challenged herself to do better. Asma liked watercolors and loved experimenting with mixing colors. She found the artistic release was a great way for her to relax and disconnect from the world. 

Choosing Mount Mary

Asma chooses to dress modestly, but found stores were lacking modern, less skin-revealing apparel. She saw an opportunity to fill that space but knew she would first need to learn EVERYTHING about designing and creating apparel. She chose Mount Mary University to remain close to her family while attending one of the highest ranked fashion programs in the Midwest. And because Mount Mary offers many programs of study, Asma decided to pursue a double major and study history – which is her second love and important inspiration for her designs. 

Asma felt welcomed in Mount Mary’s campus community. Although Mount Mary is a Catholic university, you don’t have to be Catholic to attend. “Because of my dress, people sometimes make assumptions about me not being able to speak English or that I may be an introvert. I’m a social person and I’m comfortable reaching out and making the first move. I find that everyone on campus is supportive and kind.”

History of Fashion is her favorite course, and she’s inspired to learn how a period’s society and culture are reflected in fashion from that time. Asma is fascinated to see how contemporary clothing trends often reference historic garments – like novelty bell sleeves found on modern day dresses and tops.

Creating unique designs inspired by culture and architecture

Asma’s own designs often reflect important historical architecture. Her heavily embroidered and beaded red dress created for the American Heart Association Red Dress runway event in 2020 referenced the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace at Versailles. “The dress took over 100 hours to make, and I was so proud to model it on the runway.  I received so many accolades from family and friends.”

Asma loved working on her blue dress in draping class. “It was inspired by the Blue Mosque in Turkey, and it was the first garment I designed and completed.” Patternmaking class was challenging, but she spent hours “practicing” by referencing her class notes as she made and fit garments on family during 2020’s pandemic lockdown. “I feel that I made positive progress and patternmaking has become one of my strengths.”  

After graduation, Asma plans to travel internationally – to see and experience the art, architecture, and culture of the many countries she learned about while at Mount Mary. Her first stop will be Turkey, specifically Istanbul and its surrounding towns which feature many established textile and apparel manufacturing companies. She might just find an opportunity to launch her fashion career! 

Advice to future fashion students

As a result of her study in history and fashion at Mount Mary, Asma has discovered that art and culture are important influencers of both historic and contemporary fashion. Her advice to future fashion students is to embrace all cultures to understand the relationship between art and fashion. “Fashion is another form of art that can reflect your inner and deep thoughts.”

Fashion is another form of art that can reflect your inner and deep thoughts.

Asma O Dasan