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Video Picks: Grace Jones and Jean-Paul Goude- Collaborating in style

It was a series of powerful album artworks and videos that helped propel music icon Grace Jones into the music stratosphere under the creative direction of Jean-Paul Goude.

 
According to Grace Jones, the iconic song ‘La Vie en rose’ belonged to Paris before she reimagined the sultry track for the disco glitter-balled dance floors of the world. Édith Piaf’s original version was always going to be a tough act to follow– Édith was legendary! – but the cover was a breakout hit for Grace. Her success was in part thanks to the surreal and magical art direction of Jean-Paul Goude. With Jean-Paul’s unique vision nothing was going to stop the disco diva from global domination!

From the collage of Grace roaring on the cover of ‘Slave to the Rhythm’ to her impossibly balanced pose on ‘Island Life’, the musician’s visual impact is burnt into modern pop culture like a meteorite. Her collaboration with the French artist, graphic designer and illustrator Jean-Paul resulted in one of the most influential partnerships in music history.

Jean-Paul’s work is focussed around artistic depictions of race, ethnicity and gender – and he created images which saw Grace’s body morph into a hyper-real and powerful vision of blackness. In collaboration with Jean-Paul she became a strong black super-heroine, with an androgynous sex appeal and a fierce sense of identity.

In Jean-Paul album covers and videos Grace is a towering inferno of a pop icon, with a fashion sense as sharp as a jaguar’s claw. She is one of the few artists that is able to transform herself like an exotic bird through her love of masculine clothing, androgynous hairstyles and striking, often angular make-up.
 

Credit: Grace Jones’ video for ‘La Vie en rose’. Video, excerpt from 1982 music video collection, ‘A One Man Show’ © Jean-Paul Goude. In ‘La Vie en rose’, Grace’s cut sharp silhouette is accentuated by the stage lighting. Like paint on a canvas, she shimmers in the darkness. Audiences are captivated by her masculine beauty. In the video, the diva’s angular cheekbones are coated in a luminous layer of blush. Her lips burst with brilliant colour punctuated with a graphic lip liner, as if ready to go into a fashion battle.

 
Want to see more?

Explore Jean-Paul’s archive of work with Grace on his website

Watch highlights from ‘So Far So Goude’ by Jean-Paul Goude via YouTube, featuring moving visuals from the video for ‘I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango)’
 

Grace Jones once said: “I wasn’t born this way. One creates oneself. I believe whatever I dream. Whatever I dream I want to do.”

Why don’t you try experimenting with some of Grace’s iconic silhouettes?

Try playing with oversized jackets, using paper or sponges in the shoulders to recreate those epic masculine proportions and then photograph yourself. Mess around and see what dreams you can come up with!