Iman is a Somali fashion supermodel, actress and entrepreneur. A pioneer in the field of ethnic cosmetics, she is also noted for her charitable work. She is married to David Bowie.
While still at university, Iman was discovered by American photographer Peter Beard, and subsequently moved to the United States to begin a modeling career. Her first modeling assignment was for Vogue a year later in 1976. She soon landed some of the most prestigious magazine covers, establishing herself as a supermodel.
With her long neck, tall stature, slender figure, fine features, copper-toned skin, and exotic accent, Iman was an instant success in the fashion world, though she herself insists that her looks are merely or typically Somali.She became a muse for many prominent designers, including Halston, Gianni Versace, Calvin Klein, Issey Miyake, Donna Karan, and, in particular, Yves Saint-Laurent.
During her 14 years as a high fashion model, Iman also worked with many notable photographers, including Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Annie Leibovitz.
“My dream woman is Iman.”
Iman credits the nurturing she received from various designers with having given her the confidence to succeed in an era when individuality was valued and model-muses were often an integral part of the creative process. She is signed to TESS Management in London.
Mataano founders Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim at an event for Iman’s cosmetic line (2013).
After almost two decades of modeling, Iman started her own cosmetics firm in 1994, focusing on difficult-to-find shades for ethnic women. Based on her years of experience mixing her own formulations for make-up artists to use on her, she had a personal hand in the final product and also acted as the commercial face of the company.
As of 2010, Iman Cosmetics is a $25-million-a-year business. It is centered on $14.99 foundations in 4 formulations and 14 shades, and is among the top-selling foundation brands on Walgreens’ website.
In spring 2012, Iman signed fellow Somali designers Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim, founders of the Mataano fashion company, as brand ambassadors for her cosmetics line.