As ‘Slave to the Rhythm’ turns 30, we look back at pop culture’s wildest visionary in five fearless outfits
This month, Grace Jones’ much-loved hit “Slave To The Rhythm” turns 30. With it’s deep, rolling rhythms and Jones’ characteristic growl (“I’m just playing around, baby”), the track is just as sexy and brimming with life as it’s first radio play in 1985. But it was the highly influential Jean-Paul Goude-directed video that really made its mark on pop culture’s perilous landscape. From the first scene where Jones’ striking, flat-topped face is chopped into seven parts and outstretched, to the subtle, iconoclastic comments on sexuality and race, to a never-ending merry-go-round of outfits, “Slave to the Rhythm” is the perfect embodiment of Goude’s distinctive vision and Jones’ flawless flair for style. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of a track and video that broke moulds, we’ve charted five of Jones’ most definitive fashion moments, from her predication for nakedness to the time she dressed up as a tarantula.
“I feel feminine when I feel feminine, I feel masculine when I feel masculine – I am a role switcher,” Grace Jones told us in an interview last month, and nowhere is this predication for skewing gender norms clearer than in her slew of iconic suits, from the fierce, black-angled jacket on the cover of Nightclubbing, to the double-breasted, slate-grey suit (above). With her closely-shaven flat top and leather gloves, Jones’ style embodied the word ‘queer’ long before the term was widely used. And this fearless look would go on to be imitated time and time again, whether on the shoulders of Janelle Monáe, or the catwalks of Jean Paul Gaultier.
If Grace Jones has taught us one thing (she’s taught us lots of things, but lets pretend for a moment she’s taught us one) it’s that fur (faux for the non-evil, obviously) can be worn in an endless multitude of ways. From spreading yourself across a pile of Fendis, to being shot by Andy Warhol in head-to-toe ice-white or casually slinging a fur wrap around your shoulders like in James Bond’s View To A Kill, there is no one way to wear it. My personal fave is the time Jones essentially dressed up as a tarantula (above), wearing a skin-tight metallic bodysuit, a little beige hood and twenty “legs” dangling around her.
Grace Jones and New York artist Keith Haring are a match made in style heaven, and their collaborative energy once spawned this completely off-the-wall outfit for her role as deranged vampire stripper in 1986’s camp sci-fi classic Vamp. This isn’t the only iconic creation that the pair dreamt up, though. Haring also painted the singer with his characteristic black-and-white pictograms for an image shot by cult NSFW photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, as well as for some of her most unique stage get-ups. It’s a look that has since been copied by countless artists, including Rihanna in her iconoclastic, animation-heavy video for “Rude Boy”.
As much as Jones loves dressing up, she loves dressing down a hell of a lot more. Nowhere is her nakedness more flagrantly celebrated than in this beautiful and iconic image, where her oiled, outstretched limbs transform her into a statuesque, towering life force. The photograph appeared on the cover of 1985’s Island Life, and was shot by long-time collaborator and then-partner Jean-Paul Goude, who has since shot Kim Kardashian in a similar style – a fact that Jones is unhappy with, as she explained in her memoir: “When he took a photograph of Kim Kardashian with a champagne glass perched on her ass in an impossible pose like the ones he did with me over thirty-five years ago, I asked him why he was giving her – a basic commercial product – his ideas?”
KARL LAGERFELD GLADIATOR
This gigantic, gladetorial Karl Lagerfeld hat and bondage-style strap dress has a story behind it – just like all the best outfits do. Jones wore it to the 1983 Grammy Awards and it was chosen because it looked like a ‘winners outfit’ and she was nominated for her “One Man Show” video. However, following the event, she was not allowed into the after party because she’d lost her invite. “There was a really long hallway in this big building where the party was,” she explained in her memoir. “I let out a huge scream that lasted as long as I could make it as we left the building. The police were called, and they were going to arrest me for disturbing the peace.” Well, at least she looked fabulous.