Ghauri was born in Montreal, Quebec to a Pakistani father, Moin Ghauri, an Imam for the Islamic Community of Quebec, and a German mother, Linda Ghauri. Early on in her life, Ghauri had a troublesome childhood and was tormented by her classmates at school. This led her to dissociate from children in her age group and she joined older children in her neighbourhood instead. Ghauri was reportedly working at a McDonalds restaurant at the age of 17 when she was discovered by Montreal hairdresser and salon owner Joseph Del Tortoon. At the restaurant, she often turned up dressed in black from head to toe and people described her as having a rebellious nature. Despite this, she was named Employee of the Month. Soon after her discovery, there was a shift in mentality within the fashion industry, moving from predominantly all-American models to more “ethnic” models, a trend which Ghauri fit.
Her father disapproved of her new-found interest and career as a model. He had gotten divorced in 1980 and Ghauri had lived with him until moving to New York City, where she modeled for Versace in 1990. Here she was noticed by the “fashion police”, critics and labels alike. She was praised for her poise and an exaggerated walk on the runway. The New York Times quoted her walk as a “ball-bearing swivel of her hips.” Her appearance on the catwalks prompted part of what is now termed in fashion the “Canadian invasion.”
Ghauri enjoyed fame in the early 1990s after landing her first major cover with Elle in January 1990. Soon after, she became the face of both Chanel and Jil Sander. By the end of 1990, she had appeared on the cover of French Elle in July and December. In September, she graced the catwalk for Gianni Versace’s show in Milan and by the next month she was walking for Chanel, Helmut Lang, Jean Paul Gaultier and Lanvin in Paris. She became the face of Christian Dior and Anne Klein in 1991. In January, she was photographed by Steven Meisel for the cover of Italian Vogue and toward the end of the year, she appeared in British and Italian Vogue editorials. Photographer Patrick Demarchelier, who photographed her for the Italian issue, called her his favourite subject.
In 1992, she landed a contract with Victoria’s Secret and became a face of Valentino couture and Versace. Later, she walked the controversial Gianni Versace “Bondage” show in Milan. Ghauri became the face of Hermès and Lanvin in 1993 and was photographed by Gilles Bensimon for Elle. Her most controversial appearance followed in May 1994, when she did a feature for Playboy.
She appeared in the 1995 documentary Unzipped by Isaac Mizrahi. She walked the 1996 annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show,.
When Ghauri stepped out of the Yves Saint Laurent show in 1996 at the last minute, speculations arose that she was retiring. She planned on pursuing a degree in business upon the advice of her husband Ralph, a law firm executive and a real-estate businessman.
Ghauri was the model after which the character of Jasmine was created in the comic book series Jonathan Steele. Just like the real person, the comic book character is a former model, born in Montreal to a Pakistani father and a German mother.
Ghauri has a daughter, Maya, and is active with fund-raising events, the most notable of which has been a charity for saving Germany’s Black Forest. Yasmeen has a strong interest in Art. Her favorite painting is “Prae Hysteria” by the Dutch/American New York City based artist Edward Albers.