A true icon wears her own Skin

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Let’s start with a vision. An incredibly beautiful woman, with the slight silhouette of a sculpture, who is standing in front of you on a plain black background. Rain is flowing over her shiny smooth body, wrapped in a simple skin-like sheath dress, shoulders naked. Nothing more. She starts singing an intense ballad with her unmistakable voice, different from any other, a miracle of delicacy and animal force. She makes you shiver. She is magnetic and you are conquered.
Definitely, this is what only a true artist can do. This is what Skin is: an icon of contemporary beauty. If you haven’t seen her yet we strongly suggest you go on YouTube and watch Purple video, a gem in her solo singing career (from her album Fake Chemical State, 2006). After that you’ll certainly know something more about Deborah Anne Dyer from Brixton, South London, one of the most powerful and inspiring personalities on the artistic scene.
She has had groundbreaking presence since her appearance in the early ‘90s with Skunk Anansie and she cleverly imposed her own approach and identity by setting herself apart from the stereotypes. She is still one of the few artists who have managed to avoid labelling both on and off stage; after all, she is the one who coined the expression “clit-rock” after refusing the “brit-rock” label that critics wanted to give to Skunk Anansie’s fresh resonance.

Next to music – her first love – design and fashion have a very special place in her life. Before devoting herself to music she was an interior designer and got involved in many different projects from design installation to fashion shows. Being blessed with an amazing body, Skin also modelled for top fashion designers like Alexander McQueen and Gianfranco Ferré.
Now that she’s back on tour with Skunk Anansie and a brand new album, Skin is once again ready to show the world what she is made of. During the little conversation we have had with her, she told us what she thinks about trends, fashion and a special friend in Italy…
Fashion is a global industry. You travel a lot for your work. Do you think there are still sensible differences in the way people interpret fashion in different countries?
I think so. Fashion is culturally different all over the world. I love fashion in Africa. There’s such a lot of colour. I’ve been to South Africa where everything is so colourful. They don’t have a lot of money, but they know how to wear colours. In New York, it’s kind of anti-fashion, it goes out of reach, out of control, it goes crazy and becomes cool. There are huge differences in fashion depending where you are.
You modelled for top fashion designers wearing amazing creations and you are a muse for many great photographers. What have you learned working with these brilliant artists?
I think that the main thing I’ve learned with them is to be comfortable in my own skin. Fashion is something very serious, but if you take it too seriously then you lose your way. You have to be self confident.
Skin and Italy. You have a special feeling with this country and here you have a very close friend: Liborio Capizzi, a very talented couture designer who loves creative challenges. A bit like you…
It’s true. Liborio is a visionary and he takes fashion into different directions. He loves recycling classic fashion pieces and he’s great at transforming and reconstructing. For example, he made a beautiful shirt from a scarf and the last time I saw him he made me wear one of his grandfather’s shirts, I loved it and that shirt has a 50 year old story to tell! I like to wear classic and contemporary things, but not too fashionable.
Music, design, fashion: different worlds that you manage to let co-exist within you as only a true, genuine artist can do. What does this creative mix mean to you?
I love it, the idea that I can pick something from all these worlds. It’s an exciting feeling to be inspired by such an eclectic and heterogeneous universe! This happens even when I work with my electronic music.
You once said you’re not a “seasonal dresser”. Is it a way to defend/assert your personality? What about following trends?
I don’t care about the “season”, I don’t want to follow trends. I spend a lot of money on clothes and I want them to last for a long time. If your style is too seasonal then you’re just like everyone else, you don’t distinguish yourself from the crowd. I don’t want to follow a trendsetter, even if I want to be my own leader. I like playing with classic pieces. Take a jacket. It’s a classic piece, it can last for 50 years, you can wear it with jeans, with anything and it doesn’t change that much over the years. The thing is, one minute nobody is wearing a piece of clothing and the next minute everybody is wearing it, and so you don’t want to wear it anymore.
Thinking about your on-stage persona, how did your style change over the years?
My style has changed. Getting older I have become more elegant. Fifteen years ago I was crazy grunge and anti-fashion. Now I’m more me and cool, contemporary and a little wild. I like different things now, more interesting things, like a jumper.
Concert ended. You’re at home, you open your closet and you find…
The first thing that I wear at home is a Missoni robe, it’s a kind of Japanese robe. It’s definitely my favourite thing.
Tell us about Black Traffic and about Skunk Anansie’s second life. What are your feelings about it?
It’s a “right in your face” album, very different from what we have done. It’s sexy, energetic, a deep album. I think you probably have to listen to it several times to understand it. It’s hard core. For me it’s the best album we have ever done.