Ask Grace Jones her secret to creating an enduring legacy, and she’ll give you the truth, coated in a throaty chuckle.
“Say no to mostly everything!” she says. “I drive my agents crazy.”
For the past 50 years, Jones has remained a cultural icon. Her bold features and even bolder personality propelled her to the heights of modeling, music, and acting. Her allure has always been attributed to her striking androgynous look—but deeper still, there’s a rebellious current against the status quo, gender included, that runs through Jones, and that’s kept her on the edge of culture.
It’s a rarefied place to be and one that any brand or fellow artist would love to share with Jones. But she’s deliberate about with whom she works, hence the mostly “noes.” Lately, however, Jones has been gracious enough to bestow a few “yeses,” namely to Beyoncé for her latest album Renaissance, where Jones is featured on the track “Move,” and most recently to the scented-candle-and- fragrance brand Boy Smells.
Boy Smells and Jones teamed up to create a candle that celebrates Jones’s Jamaican roots and her gender fluidity—the latter being a concept Boy Smells cofounder Matthew Herman has built his company on under the term “genderful.”
“Grace Jones represents authenticity beyond the binary,” Herman says. “Everything that we love and hope to stand for as a brand Grace has been doing for decades longer than we’ve ever existed.”
The candle, simply titled, “Grace,” is a full embodiment of Jones: From notes of saltwater drying on the rocks of Jamaica and flowers native to the country to the fashion and fragrances Jones was known for.
“We were really drawn to all the leather and Azzedine Alaïa that she wore,” Herman says. “She had us rushing to eBay trying track down this vintage Norman Norell fragrance that’s no longer produced.”
Working with Boy Smells is Jones’s first collaboration with a candle company—a notable feat for the brand especially because, as Jones notes, she’s never been a fan of scented candles until Boy Smells.
“I found that a lot of them would give me headaches or [were] not just right,” she says. “You know, that kind of Goldilocks kind of thing.”
So when is it “just right” for Jones to collaborate?
Creativity and execution are, of course, paramount. But more specifically, it’s identifying exactly where she fits in.
“I just don’t wanna be in everybody’s painting,” Jones says. “When I collaborate, I see where I am comfortable within that painting.”
And it’s safe to say she felt more than comfortable with Boy Smells.
“I did my homework, and it’s a very high-end, exclusive brand connected to the LGBTQ community as well,” she says. “So all of this was very attractive to me.”
Throughout her career, Jones has cemented herself as an icon in the queer community for blurring the lines between masculinity and femininity but also for just how unapologetic she’s been about who she is.
“What Grace has been doing since the very beginning, just authentically, ruthlessly being herself and not giving a damn what anybody else thinks—that’s what we stand for as a brand,” Herman says. “We want to make sure that people embrace their most authentic selves. And for me, personally, as a queer individual, I did not always allow myself to be as feminine as I wanted to be.”
“I don’t think it should be underestimated,” Herman continues, “what kind of effect that [Grace has] had on the LGBTQIA community and for anybody who just wants to be themselves.”
It’s that kind of impact that’s propelled Grace Jones to where she sits now as a celebrated figure in culture.
“I see it around me, and that makes me smile,” she says. “It just absolutely makes me really happy. And I think that that’s what keeps me going and wanting to get the best out of myself.”