ICONIC STYLE: GRACE JONES

March 5, 2019


Sunday night, on March 1st, at Comédie des Champs-Élysées, the landmark 1920s theater Zendaya and Law Roach's inaugural collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger, a celebration of blackness and body inclusivity, crescendoed at its grand finale with 70 year-old Grace Jones prowling and sashaying to the funky beat of her 1981 bop, "Pull Up to the Bumper". In a belted shimmering gold bodysuit, leather striped metallic blazer, thigh high oxblood boots, she took all of the energy the theater fed her and emanated it back tenfold.

 

Grace herself is the rarest of icons. In an echelon occupied by very few, she is otherworldly, a defier of time, genre, bounds, and unabashedly redefining the meanings of strength and beauty, propelling fashion experimentation, and braking barriers - in any space - while holding her own as a powerful black woman.

 

The Jamaican-born Beverly Grace Jones exploded onto the scene in the early 70s, serving as muse for the likes of Alaïa, Yves Saint Laurent, and Kenzo and came up in Paris alongside fellow supermodels Pat Cleveland and Jerry Hall and photographer Antonio Lopez. In New York, the club scene became Grace's playground. “She came into the club [one night] on a motorcycle, she had a black hood on, she walked over to the bar and she knocked all the glasses off the bar and then she proceeded to lay back on the bar, putting her high-heel shoe on top of the cash register, and sang La Vie en Rose,” said make-up artist Rudy Calvy to the BBC. Studio 54, in particular, became her most frequent haunt which made her an icon of the disco age and where, when she broke through into pop in the 80s, she would regularly perform hits like, "Pull Up to the Bumper" and "Slave to the Rhythm". Grace then segued into film namely in 1985 where she became the third ever black woman to star in a James Bond film, A View to Kill.


It was her collaboration and partnership with Jean-Paul Goude (whom she met at Studio 54), however, that cemented the personal iconoclasm of the Grace that we know today. Nearly all of Grace's most iconic images stemmed from this partnership like her visuals for 1981's Nightclubbing, or 1985's Slave to the Rhythm and Island Life (to name a few). Together, they amplified Grace's instinctual androgyny and unapologetic sexuality. “I always loved the mixture of threat and beauty," said a young Goude. "I just thought it was time for Grace to just stretch out.”


Throughout her career, she's always held ownership in what makes her so distinct - playing up her deep, rich ebony complexion, buzz cuts, eccentric fashion, and her statuesque, muscular, athletic body and how they blur the lines of masculinity and femininity. Power pieces for Grace include corsets, sharply tailored suit jackets and trousers, lace masks, hoods, leotards, and capes. With her buzzes and box cuts, she would pair them with vibrant cheeks, lacquered lips, and vivid eyes.

 

Grace sending Twitter into overdrive Sunday served as a reintroduction, of sorts, of her to a whole new generation, reminding us that her enigmatic essence is one in a billion. During a time when it was en vogue for male performers to play with makeup, platforms, long shags and explore their femininity, Grace lived fully in duality. "I go feminine, I go masculine – I am both, actually. I think the male side is a bit stronger in me and I have to tone it down sometimes. I’m not like a normal woman, that’s for sure..."

 

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