Beauty Icon: Iman []

In Africa, Artsy Fartsy, Fashion, Profile: People Places & Things of Peace, World News on April 4, 2010 at 8:40 pm

every month takes a “look at the faces that have made history.” this month’s “beauty” is none other than the exquisite Iman…

more photos after the jump…



“My dream woman is Iman.” So said no less an arbiter than Yves Saint Laurent. And those words still ring true today: The CFDA will honor the Somalian-born beauty as its Fashion Icon later this spring.

The supermodel—one of the first, long before the reign of the Trinity, the rise of the waifs, or the Eastern European boom—has well earned her one-name status. She was Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid when the American photographer Peter Beard discovered her as a young student at the University of Nairobi. Her elegant, sculptural beauty—the impossibly long neck, the regal features, those cheekbones—was a revelation when she hit the international scene in the late seventies and eighties. At a time when the glossy pages were dominated by athletic, all-American girls, she was an instant favorite among editors and nearly a religion among designers, many of whom called her their muse.

But a mere clothes hanger she’s not. You can tick off the accomplishments and still come up short, though here goes: founding and steering one of the most successful cosmetics companies targeted to women of color; campaigning and fundraising for African causes; a multi-decade film career, including a definitive role alongside Robert Redford; writing a couple of books along the way; marrying David Bowie. Some would say she’s the model to end all models. Or, as the title of her autobiography put it: I Am Iman.

—Matthew Schneier

Baby, you’re going places: The supermodel-to-be as a young girl.

Soon after landing in the U.S., Iman became a mainstay of the magazine establishment. Here, a ’77 shot by Francesco Scavullo highlighting her best features: a swanlike neck and regal profile.

White-hot at the height of the Halston seventies.

Many stylists played up the model’s exotic heritage. Here, Iman wears a tribal-inspired head wrap from Mary McFadden.

She had a farm in Africa: Iman as Mariammo in Sydney Pollack’s 1985 Out of Africa.

Haute eighties: Doorknocker hoops, denim on denim, and larger-than-life hair in 1986.

Kick out the jams: Iman in Donna Karan, from a Patrick Demarchelier-lensed spread in Vogue.

Iman proved herself capable of assuming just about any style. In 1991, she rocked bare skin, tight jeans, and a provocative stance in this faux vérité shot from the dawn of the cK jeans era.

Lady in red: Iman, in Dolce & Gabbana, with David Bowie at the 2008 Costume Institute Gala.

see more beauty icons at

  1. Wonderful post. She is very inspirational.

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