a monthly look at the faces that have made history

Grace Jones

"I'm not perfect, but I'm perfect for you," she sang—and there was no denying Grace Jones (real last name: Mendoza). Her forceful presence and intimidating, angular beauty (you could lacerate yourself on those cheekbones) propelled her out of Jamaica and into the New York underground at breakneck speed. She performed at Studio 54 and became known as Queen of the Gay Discos, and not just because of catchy and surprisingly durable hits like "I Need a Man." Her unique persona—overtly sexual yet deliberately androgynous—inspired both Andy Warhol, who painted her portrait, and Keith Haring, who painted her body for a 1985 performance at Paradise Garage. But it was her collaboration with Jean Paul Goude, which is chronicled in the artist-photographer's new book, So Far, So Goude, out this month from Assouline, that made her a legend.

Goude choreographed Jones' infamous Halloween night 1978 show at Roseland, which involved raw meat, a Bengal tiger, and the singer dressed like a big cat. She sunk her claws into Hollywood, too, co-starring with Wilt Chamberlain and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Destroyer and playing 007's nemesis in the Bond flick A View to a Kill. Lately, she's been taken up by young London, sitting front-row with Kate Moss at an Alexander McQueen show and accompanying Stella McCartney to a Fashion Rocks party, demure as ever in a body-hugging leotard and tuxedo jacket. "I wasn't born this way," Jones once said. "One creates oneself." And how.

—Laird Borrelli

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