style ICON:  IMAN – sensational at 60!

The Somali Supermodel with a story goes to prove that real style has no age.   She turned sixty in July and looks as good as ever. iman2What do we know about IMAN besides the obvious fact that she’s beautiful with perfect bone structure?  This is where style meets substance.

For me personally, the more I find out about her the more I like her.  A friend of mine was invited to an event at her and David Bowie’s house in New York going back a few years now and of course I asked “what was she like?”  The short answer was “very gracious” as she escorted my friend around their home.

She was born Iman Abdulmajid, the daughter of a diplomat and left her native Somalia as a refugee.

When she was a student at Nairobi University, fashion photographer Peter Beard approached her to ask about taking her picture.  She had never even seen a fashion magazine before.

She soon left Kenya, to make her first print appearance in Vogue.  She dealt with racism in the modelling industry at the time.iman1She soon became a familiar face on runways around the world and one of the first black supermodels. Iman paved the wave for all African-born beauties wanting to break into the high-fashion world.

Iman officially retired from modeling in 1989, but she has continued to influence the industry.

Her eponymous cosmetics line caters to women with skin colors that are underserved by mainstream makeup.

She is an actor, the author of two books and an outspoken activist for human rights causes.

She’s a keeper. She has been married to David Bowie for two decades.iman4

Photographed by Bruce Weber, Vogue, 1995
Photographed by Bruce Weber, Vogue, 1995

In 2010, she received the Fashion Icon award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

She continues to inspire

A tiny portion of her story:

On living as the daughter of the Somali ambassador to Saudi Arabia: I studied in Italian when I was in boarding school, so overnight when we moved to Saudi Arabia we were taught in English. I speak five languages besides mine. I went to school in Egypt because girls weren’t allowed to go to school in Saudi Arabia. It’s very restricting, especially for girls, we’re not allowed to go anywhere.

On becoming a refugee from Saudi Arabia: Imagine: we have our own chauffeur, our own car, we’re going everywhere with security, as [the family of the] ambassador. Then Somalia had a revolution and it became a military regime. All embassies were closed, and all of a sudden people my father worked with disappeared. So my mom decided, ‘Why would we wait for that to happen?’ So, in the middle of the night, she gets a van, puts us in with nothing but the clothes on our backs and we drove to the border of Kenya and crossed on foot. I literally have two pictures of myself growing up. I am the face of the refugee. The refugees are, 99% of the time, people who have left their countries for fear for their lives. It’s not people who want to come to other countries and be pariahs. That’s not what a refugee is.

On being discovered by Peter Beard: I was walking to [my job as a] waitress and Peter Beard appeared and started talking to me and asked my name and I thought he was trying to pick me up. He followed me and asked, have you ever been photographed? And I’d never seen a magazine in my life—except my brothers were teenagers and they had Playboy. And I said, “I’m not that kind of girl.” He talked about his profession and I didn’t pay attention and then he said, “I’ll pay you,” and then I stopped. He said, “How much?” I said, “$8000.” (That was two year’s tuition.) And he said, “OK.” I brought two girlfriends, he took the pictures, I thought, “That was an easy job, $8,000.” He wrote me a check, I cashed it immediately.

On her age: We all have friends and loved ones who say 60’s the new 30. No. Sixty’s the new 60.

Source for her story: taken from her interview “Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis”

Her cosmetics line:

photos: google images


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