From Alicia Drake’s masterful text The Beautiful Fall to the Instamatic photographs of iconic celebrities by famed illustrator Antonio Lopez, the glitter, glamour, and extravagance of 1970s Paris is well documented. But perhaps foreign to most is the fact that during this decade of decadence Grace Jones, Jerry Hall, and Jessica Lange were all roommates in the City of Light. The three had come to Paris separately to begin their lives anew.
Jones was leaving New York where she had trouble finding work even after being signed to Wilhelmina Models. Instead, she decided to try her hand in Paris despite being told “selling a black model in Paris is like trying to sell them an old car no one wants to buy" by modeling agent John Casablancas. Jones was infuriated, and vowed he would eat his words. And she was right. Soon, she found herself on the cover of major fashion magazines, working for top designers and photographers, including Yves Saint Laurent and Helmut Newton.
Hall moved to Paris at 16, and began modeling a year later. Graduating high school early in her native Texas, Hall received $800 (about $5,200 adjusted for inflation today) from her insurance company after being in a car accident. She promptly skipped town after. “I got a backpack and a sleeping bag and left,” she said in 1978.
Lange came to Paris to study mime with French actor Etienne Decroux. She was also modeling at the time and became one of the first three girls signed by new agency Euro Planning (later Prestige)-the other two were Hall and Jones.
“Modeling-dealing with it, not the thing itself-helped us to take on the world,” Jones wrote in her 2015 autobiography I’ll Never Write My Memoirs. Nestled in tiny rooms in a French hotel, the three would regularly take the night traveling through Paris’ dizzying swirl of nightlife, especially Club Sept, a hardcore gay club beloved by Paris glitterati. They were “Young, lustful girls moving around Europe, with Paris at the center,” Jones wrote, “making a living, becoming stronger, discovering new ways to hang out and look after ourselves.”
Though the three women would part ways after a few years, all going on to develop stunningly successful careers in their chosen fields, their friendship would stand the test of time. “I developed incredible, long-lasting bonds with the girls I worked with, not least because I also lived with them and we explored new, strange territory together,” Jones wrote. “I have remained friends with Jerry and Jessica to this day, and we help each other and inspire each other.”