By Preston Blackburn
Imagine a stage. Quiet. Dark. Eerie almost. The crowd flutters with anticipation and you can hear a low, electro pop beat filter through the air. Suddenly, a beam of light pierces through the sky only to land on a fuzzy, womanly silhouette on stage. You quickly realize that this is no ordinary woman. An intimidating figure standing just under seven feet with a long mane of hair flowing down her back, just barely touching the floor. As her shape becomes more visible, you notice that she’s dressed in a tight, cat woman inspired bodysuit, ten inch leather boots, and a headdress so mesmerizing you would think she was from an ‘80s Vegas primetime attraction. The crowd rips into applause. You may not know who this woman is but she was the Rihanna before Rihanna went bad, the Beyonce before she was Sasha Fierce, and the Lady Gaga before Stefani had a chance to bleach her brunette roots and dance with a disco stick. Grace Jones, woman extraordinaire, paved the way for all these women to have the gumption to grace the magazines and television shows of today one squeaky, latex boot at a time.
Beverly Grace Jones was born in Spanish Town, Jamaica before moving to New York where she began her career as a high fashion model. Appearing on the covers of Elle and Vogue magazine, Grace began to achieve supermodel status due to her dark, bold skin and androgynous appeal. Grace was not afraid to be overly sexual while blurring gender lines (10 Things You Never Knew). She even credited attending a party nude as her best outfit. Grace’s inescapable allure propelled her into other creative mediums such as music and acting, as well as being the muse for painters such as Keith Haring and Andy Warhol. Though she rose to fame within the modeling world, Grace found commercial success in music, releasing nine albums before 1990 with five number one singles and one Grammy nomination (An audience with Grace Jones). Her constant desire to march against the grain inspired fellow musician Annie Lennox as she modeled the early stages of her career after Grace’s aesthetic. Grace single-handedly influenced the cross-dressing movement of the 1980s inspiring women that it never pays to be afraid. Sometimes you just have to paint your face purple, staple some barbwire to your fro, and cut up your sheets into a slinky, low-cut toga in order to grab a drink at the downtown hotspot.
Today, designers are continuously looking for new ways to inject androgyny into their collections. From Emilio Pucci to Lanvin, androgynous fashion is a revolving door that continues to spit out new ways for women to strut their stuff to the beat of a man. Grace Jones continues to inspire fashion spreads in W magazine and Italian Vogue. Always constant, Grace’s style transcends through time. Lady Gaga may be asking for our applause, but the true praise belongs to the woman who never saw a boundary her stiletto couldn’t break.
10 things you never knew about…Grace Jones. (2010, June 22). Retrieved from http://www.clashmusic.com/feature/10-things-you-never-knew-about-grace-jones
Osborn, M. (2008, November 26). An audience with Grace Jones. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7747522.stm