Before there was Padma, Ujjwala or Lakshmi there was Yasmeen. Known as one of the original “supers” from the 90s, Yasmeen Ghauri was the first model of South Asian descent to rise to the top of the supermodel stratosphere and establish herself as one of the greats of her generation. Born in Montreal, Canada to a German mother and a Pakistani father, Yasmeen was reportedly discovered by hairdresser, Joseph Del Tortoon at age 17. She quickly signed with an agency but her career didn’t take off until she left Montreal where her “ethnic” look kept her from booking jobs.
According to Ghauri, her father, who was a Muslim imam (religious leader), disapproved of her modeling aspirations because it was against the beliefs of their Islamic faith. Although, she continued to pursue modeling despite her father’s objections, Ghauri credits her upbringing and the values instilled in her by her father in helping her persevere and succeed in the competitive world of modeling.
At a time when there were very few minority women fronting advertising campaigns for designer brands, Ghauri became the face of Chanel, Jil Sander, Anne Klein, Christian Dior, Valentino, Versace, Hermès, Lanvin and Escada, to name a few.
Ghauri was also the only woman of color in the 90s to become the face of a luxury beauty brand, specifically Dior cosmetics and later Givenchy and Ungaro fragrances.
Ghauri officially retired from modeling in 1997 when she became pregnant with her first child. Although, many of her contemporaries are still active in the industy, Ghauri has remained out of the public eye to focus on raising her family. Even at the height of her success, Ghauri was intensely private and gave very few interviews to allow her, she said, to live her life without scrutiny or judgement.
Images courtesy of: thefashionspot.com