Some kind of killer dress, statuesque heels. The poise of a Helmut Newton woman – and the mind to match. Yasmina Dexter is a myth of her own, stalking London, E8.
Under the guise of Pandora’s Jukebox, she DJs in clubs alongside the likes of Matthew Stone, Richard Clouston, Trevor Jackson and Andrew Weatherall. Plays at events for Vivienne Westwood, Agent Provocateur, Louis Vuitton, Linda Farrow and, most recently, Lane Crawford for Olivier Theyskens, in Hong Kong. Her latest project is a radio show. Her ongoing project is soundtracking catwalks for Preen (New York) and Pringle of Scotland (London).
Far from the practice of fading records in and out, Dexter slows down beats and creates a moody, aural orgy somewhere between the electronic, industrial, techno and dreamlike; twisting outsider music’s arm to give it the bravado of RnB. The result is a kind of 21st century sex music.
“[Creating catwalk soundtracks is] my favourite creative and productive time,” she explains. “Alert with clear vision, passion and confidence. The best thing is it has taught me to trust my instincts, and that is an addictive thing. All is done in a spontaneous way, but the finished result always somehow reflects my emotional state at the time. I like that. It’s never forced.”
Dexter, also a freelance fashion consultant and buyer, was working in-house at Preen – “one of the best labels around,” – when she suggested giving their runway a beat. Circa 1996, it was spurred by an impromptu three-hour DJ set at Embassy bar, her first ever. Because Lemon Jelly didn’t turn up.
“I lived above and my boyfriend at the time was a manager; the inspirational DJ Quark,” she elaborates. “I’d met him at a techno party at the Vicarage, the nun’s deserted squat. He’s one-of-a-kind.”
Before that, she’d hung around industrial/goth/electronica clubs. “Hardclub in old Gossips was magic, Slimelight slightly less sophisticated but still, good and, let’s not forget my DJ residency at Torture Garden. Perhaps around ’93 I moved to the more underground squat techno scene (super exciting and still with a dark sound) listening to Belgian beat stuff, Aphex Twin, Orbital, Richard H. Kirk, Autechre, The Orb, Depth Charge, Meat Beat Manifesto. And at the afterparties there was a lot of dub/trip-hop,” she says, joining the dots.
Dexter was born to a designer mother and photographer father and raised in Slovenia, one of the six republics in the ex-Yugoslavia. Copies of French, Italian Vogue were always around. And Photo. “We were bang in the middle (geographically and politically) of East and West Europe. The best from both worlds. I grew up in a healthy society (mild socialism), no classes (biggest difference was that a family had one car more than the other), nothing censored (books/TV), and free education, no religion in schools. Mind you, we did have Marxism and self defense – I know everything about guns and how to aim to shoot, tanks, how to read nature to survive.” Her small town, population 100,000, was steps away from Italy: therefore Yasmina always had Italian shoes. As well as cassettes the older kids had given her, featuring everything from Coil and Cabaret Voltaire to Lene Lovich, Kraftwerk and Cocteau Twins.
“Clothes are like toys, you know?” she offers. “I like them to play with, temporary expression. It’s style that is the story that comes from one’s eyes, mouth, body movement.”
Still, she must have something she always feels good in? “High heels and a biker jacket – the zips must be extra thick.”
TEXT DEAN MAYO DAVIES
PHOTOGRAPHY LAURENT SEGRETIER
ANOTHERMAG.COM, OCTOBER 2011
EDITION OF ANOTHERMAG.COM RESIDENCY THE SOUND OF STYLE