Fashion icon Sandra-Lee’s life and legacy in dancehall | Entertainment

Fashion icon Sandra-Lee’s life and legacy in dancehall | Entertainment

Should Sandra-Lee Smith enter a get together and see anyone sporting her ensemble, she’s leaving. Greater nevertheless, “If I journey or go to a retailer in Jamaica and there is only two or a few parts (of some thing I adore), I seize all of them mainly because I want to have all of them,” she explained to The Sunday Gleaner.

It might seem extreme but it’s fitting for the dancehall stalwart who aided pioneer the ‘80s and ‘90s eras of dancehall manner which was fiercely primary, and by no means to be seen twice.

Some of her appears to be are documented throughout her St Andrew abode, and she describes a couple of before settling on a chaise lounge in her classic Hollywood, French chic and Bohemian-styled dwelling room.

There is 1 unique image that stands out: an virtually ceiling-to-ground body of Sandra-Lee in a silver robe at House of Leo, full with her signature substantial-blushed, pale make-up and unibrow. The latter she inherited from her Maroon Rastafarian father who raised her in Rose City, west Kingston, alongside her mom who was a dancehall promoter.

“While coming up, I usually noticed them holding dances in the yard… Following the bash, we, the more compact kinds, would pick up the bottles and this is how it will become an built-in portion in our life, so I develop up employing it as an cash flow also,” she shared.

But ahead of she would dominate the dancehall with fellow trendsetters Dancehall Queen Carlene, Pinky and The Ouch Crew, Sandra-Lee explained to her mom that she wished to pursue cosmetology immediately after completing third type at Ardenne Superior Faculty. By 16, she opened her very own salon downtown following remaining skilled at the Leon University of Attractiveness Society. She rapidly turned recognised as the go-to stylist for the hottest tendencies in dancehall, not only attracting foreigners who’d occur down for situations like Sting, but also public figures like Willie Haggart, Bogle and Scare Dem Crew.

“With Willie now, he liked that dancehall glimpse so each time I place out a hairstyle for the males, he was the very first a person to say, ‘I want it’, also Radigan… When Scare Dem came to me, I give them the colour-color and it goes with their team and they really like it. Often I simply cannot uncover the color that I want but I use kool-help and check out not to let rain catch them.”

But Sandra-Lee was shining, way too. Her hairstyles and fashion turned a way of marketing and advertising her business enterprise in the dance, which equally designed her a video clip mild sensation. Not relying on vogue magazines (and without the introduction of social media), Sandra-Lee’s vogue inspiration drew on an affinity for title makes, shipped with what she described as originality and sophistication.

“I like to stand out and be distinct so any time I switch up into a occasion, persons are fascinated about my style and say, ‘Wow, how she do it?… I want that look’… I adore name brands mainly because our mom grows us up in very good things. She under no circumstances like see us in items which is not proper so when you see us in a little something, it is high-quality. You see it, you see money.”

She attributed the simultaneous reign and prominence of a number of fashionistas to their aid for each and every other and knowledge of dancehall as a “fashion show” that saw the most modern, resourceful and special getting the eye sweet for guys and envy of gals. She included that persons experienced to spend to see them, but the scene has significantly altered with “uniform clothes” lifestyle.

“When this China point arrives in now, which is far more of a less costly vogue, it get it time and occur in the dancehall which you just cannot defeat them down on it – it is what they can afford to pay for – so, it result in identify manufacturer to kinda dress again a minimal, for some individuals, not for all who adore the culture and want to shine in the tradition.”

In accordance to the 53-year-previous fashionista, if she “doesn’t see any individual to consider on, I will go away simply because that’s what dancehall is you cannot test”.

She added, “If you have the clothes, occur and take a look at. These days, people today searching at dancehall as if it is a inexpensive point. No, it is not. We established it the place it’s like a Grammy matter.”

Reflecting on her legacy in dancehall, her proudest instant is getting incorporated in US-centered multidisciplinary artist Akeem Smith’s No Gyal Can Test exhibition, which premiered at Purple Bull Arts in New York in 2020.

While she’s nevertheless a mainstay in the place, Sandra-Lee sees herself “passing on the baton” sometime.

“There’s likely to be from time to time when I’m in the church due to the fact I gravitate to my God so deeply and I’m fearful of Him and I’m acquiring nearer and nearer to my God.”

Until then, she would like the Authorities to do more for the dancehall neighborhood.

“Japan sells their lifestyle and China sells their tradition. When you offer your tradition, your region results in being prosperous but I’m not looking at them placing out the effort to provide dancehall, and people all in excess of the entire world want to be in this dancehall… I just want the Governing administration to respect dancehall and realise that it is a tradition. Each time I see that appear to move, then I will say that the operate is performed.”

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