When it comes to enduring fashion influence, few artists can compete with Grace Jones. For the past four decades, Jones has been a touchstone for designers in need of a muse to channel fearlessness, androgyny, and raw sex appeal. With a list of admirers that includes everyone from Azzedine Alaïa to Riccardo Tisci, Jones isn’t just a fashion icon—she’s a cultural one too. The girl from Spanish Town, Jamaica, moved from top model to designer muse, pop star, and legend with a brash confidence and subversive bravado. Turning 68 this week, Jones is still pushing buttons; headlining this year’s Afropunk Festival, releasing a candid autobiography ironically titled I’ll Never Write My Memoirs, and taking this generation’s pop starlets to task for not challenging the status quo.
More than just providing the world with good music, Jones’s vitality has served to enliven fashion. Even before “Pull Up to the Bumper” was a disco standard, Jones was wielding considerable sway as a model for photographers like Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin. From the moment Jones arrived in Paris in 1970, she was a part of the nightlife’s elite. Whether she was sharing a Paris flat with Jessica Lange and Jerry Hall, getting photographed by Antonio Lopez, or taking to the dance floor at Club Sept with Karl Lagerfeld, Jones was a part of the conversation.
Is it any wonder, then, that Jones’s legacy has found its way onto the runways? When Jones posed in a sharp-shouldered suit with a cigarette dangling from her mouth on the cover of her 1981 album, Nightclubbing, it sent shockwaves through fashion. Her wardrobe of Philip Treacy headgear and hooded scarves by Halston and Alaïa has been copied so many times now that they feel timeless. The codes of Jones’s beauty look; the geometric flat top, intensely contoured cheekbones, and high-contrast Keith Haring body paint have all been alluded to by makeup artists and designers alike. Every so often, Jones will even lend her presence to a designer and take the journey full circle, stomping down the runway with her signature bombast and reminding the world that she isn’t just a reference point to be listed in the collection notes, but one of the most vital performers around and one of fashion’s most timeless muses.
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