Though we tend to think of Tyson Beckford as the consummate Ebony Adonis, apparently his singular gait and breathtaking good looks could only hold a candle to those of Sterling St. Jacques, one of the first black male models.

With a strong 6’2” build, defined cheekbones, and gray eyes (often covered by blue contacts), St. Jacques was the toast of the town in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  A notoriously good dancer, Sterling frequently set the dance floor on fire with his good friend and model Pat Cleveland, along with socialites Bianca Jagger and Caroline Kennedy.

Sterling St. Jacques and Pat Cleveland
Bianca Jagger and Sterling St. Jacques. Ron Galella, 1978.
Caroline Kennedy with Sterling St. Jacques at Studio 54, 1977.

Pat and St. Jacques were particularly close. They jet setted all over the world, appeared in public as a couple, and were even briefly engaged in 1976 (though St. Jacques was widely reported to be gay).

St. Jacques appeared on the cover of Playmen magazine, participated in the historic Grand Divertissement at Versailles in 1973, and walked for Givenchy, Willi Smith, and Halston. He also secured small acting roles in Eyes of Laura Mars and the Italian film Sistemo l’America e torno.

Center, with Pat Cleveland.

A true renaissance man, St. Jacques also sang a handful of disco hits in the early 80’s.

The man about town attracted men and women alike, who lavished him with gifts, money, and trips to foreign locales. It was largely rumored that St. Jacques was the son of Hollywood actor Raymond St. Jacques; by many accounts this was untrue–most believe the two were lovers. St. Jacques died of AIDS complications in 1984.

Source: Cotton Candy Truant & The Panache Report.

25 thoughts on “Black History Month with Fashion Bomb Daily: Sterling St. Jacques”

  1. I’m sorry I appreciate this series but peppering the entire article with speculations about his sexuality, the daddy/lover relationship stuff just screams smutty tabloid. I know you want to present a whole story by being honest but geez can a dead soul rest on accomplishments vs gossipy rumor (even if it may be true).

  2. @Bonifant his being gay was a big part of his identity, apparently Raymond St. Jacques found him as a young worker at a shop and brought him into the limelight. His attempts to cover up his sexuality yet appeal to both men and women were notorious and a big part of his story. I’m not quite sure how I’m supposed to present a story without the facts. The truth is he was gay and he died of AIDS, but went to all lengths, even getting engaged to a woman, to cover it up.
    I also don’t see why being gay is seen as something negative…it was just a fact of his life.

  3. Thanks for the black history month posts, Claire – I always love this time of the year at the Fashion Bomb! And what a beautiful man! We can all agree that his was a life taken too early, that’s for sure. I often wonder what this world would look like with the many lives lost to HIV/AIDs still living – especially in the artistic world.

    And don’t even get me started on the current AIDS spectra amongst minority communities…but that’s a whole other convo.

  4. I guess “widely reported” and “largely rumored” are what make it seem like tabloid fodder. If it was presented firmly eg. he was gay but because of the times he chose to conceal this fact or to keep a wide fanbase and keep the gifts coming he was deliberately non-committal about his sexuality; I could deal with that. I guess I’m accustomed to FB givin it to me straight not accustomed to the read between the lines type of thing.
    But ur right BadassKris I sound slighted like he was my favorite uncle or something lol. I’m not saying being gay wasn’t part of his identity or important, just that that’s part of him – more about the work, less escandalo.
    Either way Thnx for the reply Claire.

  5. Thank you Claire for educating me on the life and career of Sterling St. Jacques. I had never heard of him or seen his picture before today. Thank you for sharing about his life, the good, the bad and the devastating.


  6. Just, wow! I know pictures hardly tell the entire story, but through photos like the ones in this series and film, this time just seemed magical and filled with unstoppable, beautiful, wild talent.

    @Claire, I really hope the survivors of this glamorous, chaotic time have seen your efforts.

  7. I blame HIV and AIDS for the current fashion void we currently have today. If you are 40 and over you remember how exciting fashion was in the 70s and 80s. This man was finer than God. What would he be doing today if he were alive?

  8. I’d never heard of him. Thanks for the info! He was very handsome. Really enjoying the Black History posts!

  9. @ Bronze, I have to agree with you. Imagine if he were alive today? he’d be FABULOUS! he might have turned to his own design house, or joined the likes of Yves St. Laurent, who knows?! either way, the whole AIDS epidemic has all but stripped us of these icons and it’s so depressing. He was absolutely gorgeous.

  10. Claire, thank you for presenting another great Black History post. I appreciate you posting the full story on this man’s life and career in fashion.

  11. wow he was gorgeous and i seriously think the 70’s was one of the most innovative and interesting eras in fashion.

  12. What about him even hints at being straight (normal). He was GAY as a day in sunny May. He probably was a source of massive AIDS transfer by screwing eveyone (male and female) at Studio 54 who appealed to him or who he thought his career could benefit from. That’s why his ass is dead from AIDS!

  13. Thank you for acknowledging my piece about Sterling St.Jacques. I would like to say that I research the somewhat obscure pop culture subjects for my blog with tongue in cheek as well as trying to find as much truthful information as I can without much help/funding. I wrote this because I was a fan. I think he is a personality which was so electric I just had to write about him. Nothing was written to be mean. I was a child during the time in which he rose to some sort of fame and I am paying remembrance to him. That is all.

  14. Soooo…exactly when did he die? He apparently died of AIDS-related causes in 1984 in New York but he was in Italy in 1984 when the above clip was filmed and he looked pretty healthy then. If he died, it probably wasn’t in ’84 and it probably wasn’t in NY.
    Didn’t someone on Cotton Candy Truant’s blog say they saw him in LA in ’91? Didn’t Raymond leave Sterling (who was then downgraded back to “nephew” status) $1 in his will when he passed in ’90? Why would you bequeath anything to someone who died years before you?

  15. Great post on Sterling, I read some of your quotes on Panache Report a few years ago. Very interesting. I heard Myra Panache is writing a tell all on him.

  16. i was a teen back in 84 but don’t remember him but remember mr renauld in commercials. yes, mr sterlling was handsome, sexy and smooth operator in dancing moves. i went on some other sites where i found pictures of him with michael jackson and catherine guiness, socilalite. all sites do mention him being gay , adopted by mr raymond and then un-adopted with one of sterlings’ relatives saying he was not related to mr raymond and did not really want to talk about it. so very sad. yes, i want to see a movie about him and bet those disco 54 movies and the one mark whalberg did was really about sterling. now the public is better educated about s8x , condoms, etc and the transmission rate has been cut in half. so very sad to see this gifted, handsome man gone too soon. thanks for the great articles on these black trailblazers. i can think of some more models from the perm boxes/advertisements but i don’t know their names. claire, please do another update to other models.

  17. I’ve tried to find more info on Sterling. Some claimed to be his cousin, by saying Sterling was born as Sterling Thomas in Salt Lake City in September of 1949. About his death however, most people including me, have always though he died in New York from AIDS in 1984. Someone else has said he died in 1996. Go on the panache website that’s where I found his birth year. The movie, Eyes of Laura Mars, you can tell he’s in his late 20’s because his face is fully formed, and also because he plays as a early 20’s student in an Italian movie made in 1974. If only he didn’t die, we’d know more about his life’s work and what he did. :)

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