The Somali native landed in New York in 1975 without ever having seen a fashion magazine, worn high heel shoes or worn makeup.
Black, beautiful, university educated and towering at 5’9” along with her ability to speak five languages, made her an immediate sensation. Despite this, she got her fair share of prejudice including an incident where she was described as a goat herder. This smacked not only of disrespect but ignorance since Iman’s background could best be, what some would describe as “upper crust.” Her father was a diplomat and the Somali Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and her mother was a gynecologist.
The challenges she faced were somewhat daunting, but her persistence paid off. Like many other aspiring models, Iman faced initial rejection, due to her unconventional look. She experienced self-doubt and frustration but remained determined. She was paid a disproportionate sum for modeling engagements and cabs in New York refused to pick her up. Makeup artists gave lame excuses about not being able to find makeup in her shade, just because of the color of her skin.
Her breakthrough came when she caught the attention of legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who offered her a modeling contract. This moment was a turning point, and Iman was elated to work with such an esteemed designer.
Becoming an International Sensation
She quickly rose to international stardom, gracing the covers of top fashion magazines and walking the runways for renowned designers. She felt honored and proud to represent diversity in the fashion world. She got parts in the movies, “Out of Africa,” “The Human Factor,” and “No Way Out,” among others. She even appeared in Michael Jackson’s epic video, “Remember the Time.”
In 1992 Iman married the multi talented English musician, singer and songwriter David Bowie. From all appearances it was a blissful union, until his death from liver cancer in 2016. The marriage produced a daughter, Alexandria ‘Lexi’ Zahra Jones.
At the time of his death, he was worth $230 million. The statement “the spirit lives,” seems to be fully embraced by Iman, who continues to refer to Bowie as her husband, who she hopes to meet again in the afterlife.
In an uncanny way, life sends us nuggets of wrath, within which, are hidden gems of opportunity. Iman has never forgotten her racist experiences in America. As a result, she founded the “Diversity Coalition” to fight racism in the modeling industry.
In 1994 she launched Iman Cosmetics and Fragrances, with a mission to fill the needs of people of myriad skin tones across races, cultures and ethnicities. The brand generates revenues in excess of $8 million a year and the company is worth $25 million.
Iman became a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry. She strongly decried the lack of greater representation for people of color and paved the way for future generations.
Iman’s experiences in her journey to becoming a top model were marked by perseverance, empowerment, and a commitment to breaking barriers in the fashion world. Her feelings ranged from initial uncertainty and rejection to immense pride and a sense of responsibility as she achieved global recognition and used her platform for positive change.
Bowie’s last wish was that his $230 Million estate should be shared between his wife and two children and his ashes be taken to Bali and scattered over the beach and into the ocean.
Now 67, Iman lives in New York. When asked about aging she thought it a strange question since aging is celebrated in Africa.
Disclaimer: This information was generated through CHATGPT.