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Happy Birthday, Grace Jones! 18 Times the Fearless Pop Icon Broke the Beauty Mold

Grace Jones, who turns 75 today, has always possessed an inimitable aesthetic vision. Meticulously crafted and ever-evolving in collaboration with French creator and ex-paramour Jean-Paul Goude, the singer’s Afrofuturist image is as integral to her character as her sultry contralto and subversive stage presence. And while her Cubist fashion, from her razor-sharp-shouldered suits to her architectural dresses worn with directional headpieces by Philip Treacy, has always been a vital part of the visual equation, her signature, shape-shifting close crop and fantastical makeup have made her a beauty icon for the ages.

Born in Spanish Town, Jamaica and raised in upstate New York, Jones was living in New York City and cultivating her image as an up-and-coming Wilhelmina model when she radically shaved off all her hair in the late ’60s. “It made me look more abstract, less tied to a specific race or sex or tribe,” she once said. “I was Black, but not Black; woman, but not woman; American, but Jamaican; African, but science fiction.” In 1970, she moved to Paris, where her unconventional look was met with applause, and so began her meteoric rise to fame. Modeling for Yves Saint Laurent and Kenzo and posing for photographers such as Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin, Jones treated her buzzed coif like a sculpture, casting it in geometric shapes with elaborate etchings, with her flattop fade styles becoming the most notorious of all. And while her hair, as well as her lithe yet muscular figure, often skewed androgynous, her makeup played up her almond gaze, pyramid-sharp cheekbones, and pillowy mouth to super-goddess effect.

From the cover of her debut album Portfolio (1977) to her fabled disco nights at Studio 54, her visage was perpetually awash in Technicolor pigments—swaths of midnight blue shadow on the lids, fiery rouge on the cheeks graduating up to brows—and punctuated by Cleopatra-esque winged eyeliner, hyperbolized arches, and dark bordeaux lips. And through the next decade, blurring New Wave, disco, and reggae with dance floor hits like “Pull Up to the Bumper” and “Slave to the Rhythm,” she kept pushing beauty boundaries—even on screen, as a fully decked out Bond girl with overt sex appeal in A View to a Kill (1985) and as a surrealist stripper with a flair for off-kilter visual statements (shocking red wigs! Silver-tipped talons! Metallic violet lips!) and mosaic body art painted by artist Keith Haring in Vamp (1986). Since her ’80s heyday, Jones hasn’t stopped serving up rapturous sounds and stylings from another universe. Here, a look back at her most enduring beauty looks.

Vamp, 1986

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With Naomi Campbell, 1990

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Photo: Everett Collection

Conan the Destroyer, 1984

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