Black Excellence: The Iconic Career of Grace Jones

Black Excellence: The Iconic Career of Grace Jones

The queen of the 80's has no intention of slowing down.

The queen of the 80's has no intention of slowing down.

Text: Dominique Norman

V Magazine is celebrating the legends who gave us fashion, culture, music and more during Black History Month with the series Black Excellence. The third installation of the series explores the electrifying career of Grace Jones.

Grace Jones has done it all. Partying at Studio 54, modeling, starring in numerous films, and releasing ten studio albums. The icon was a heavy hitter in the '80s, but continues to make waves today. 

Jones hails from the island of Jamaica. Raised in a strict religious home by her grandparents, she moved to New York in her teens. After studying theater for a few years at Syracuse, she came to the city to pursue modeling and was initially signed with Wilhelmina. In 1970, Jones relocated to Paris with the hope of bigger and better opportunities. She was met with admiration by some of the biggest names in fashion at the time, such as Yves Saint Laurent and Helmut Newton. She soon found herself on magazine covers like ELLE, Vogue, Interview, and Playboy

Jones was notorious for her androgynous look. This was often met with questions, curiosity, and criticism, which she heartily embraced. Much of her work plays with gender and racial norms. She is famously quoted as saying: “I’ve always been a rebel. I never do things the way they’re supposed to be done. Either I go in the opposite direction or I create a new direction for myself, regardless of what the rules are or what society says.”

In 1977 she released her first studio album with Island Records. Over the next few years, she released three consecutive albums: Portfolio (1977), Fame (1978), and Muse (1979). She became notorious for her risqué performances, often at the acclaimed Studio 54 and other notable New York nightclubs, regularly sighted with friend and collaborator, Andy WarholIn the '80’s, Jones switched gears to make her mark on the big screen. She appeared alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Destroyer in 1984 and the following year in the James Bond film A View to a Kill, opposite Christopher Walken and Roger Moore. She's also worked with Halle Berry, Martin Lawrence, and Eddie Murphy. During the numerous movies that she was filming, she continued making music, backing up the fact that she was clearly a triple threat.

In 2015, Jones released a biography ironically titled I'll Never Write My Memoirs, which became a tell-all book on the personal and the professional details of her stellar life. A documentary is said to be in the works as well, entitled Grace Jones—The Musical of My LifeSo what else can we expect from an icon who has seemingly given us everything? In an interview with the Guardian, she states what’s next on her agenda: “I'm going to open a foundation in my mom's name, teaching sewing and creating fashion.” 

Watch the video from Made to Measure on the ABC’s of Grace Jones below.

Credits: Photographed by Jean-Paul Goude for V57

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