Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid (Somali: Iimaan Maxamed Cabdulmajiid, Arabic: ايمان محمد عبد المجيد) (born July 25, 1955), professionally known as Iman (which means "faith" in Arabic), is a Somali-American fashion model, 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.
Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Iman is the daughter of Marian and Mohamed Abdulmajid. Her father was a diplomat and a former Somali ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and her mother was a gynecologist. She has four siblings: two brothers, Elias and Feisal, and two younger sisters, Idil and Nadia.
For her education, Iman attended high school in Egypt and later lived in Kenya, where she studied political science at Nairobi University.
Iman is Muslim, and fluent in five languages: Somali, Arabic, Italian, French and English.
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, thin frame, fine features, naturally straight hair, 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.
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.
Due to her marketability and high profile, Iman was approached in 2007 by the CEO of the Home Shopping Network (HSN) about the possibility of starting a clothing design line. After some cajoling, Iman agreed, starting with embroidered, one-size-fits-all caftans inspired by her childhood in Egypt and modeling time with Halston. The clothes were a success. Today, Iman's Global Chic collection is one of four best-selling items among more than 200 fashion and jewelry brands on HSN, having evolved into a line of affordable accessories.
Iman twice appeared in Miami Vice, playing Dakota in Back in the World (1985) and Lois Blyth in Love At First Sight (1988). Also in 1988, she appeared as Marie Babineaux on an episode of In the Heat of the Night.[
In the mid-2000s, Iman spent two years as the host of Bravo TV's fashion-themed show, Project Runway Canada. In November 2010, she along with friend and colleague, designer Isaac Mizrahi, also began hosting the second season of The Fashion Show, a series Bravo started to replace its former hit Project Runway that now moved to the Lifetime network.
An occasional actress, she first starred in the 1979 film The Human Factor; she then portrayed Nina Beka in the 1987 film No Way Out, with Kevin Costner. She also played a shapeshifter named Martia in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and appeared in the Oscar-winning film Out of Africa alongside Robert Redford and Meryl Streep.
Iman also makes a cameo alongside her husband David Bowie in the 1999 Windows 9x and Dreamcast 3D adventure game, Omikron: The Nomad Soul, developed by the video game company Quantic Dream. She appears as one of the numerous Omikronian citizens the player can "reincarnate" into.
In addition to running her global beauty company, Iman is also actively involved in a number of charitable endeavors. She is currently a spokesperson for the Keep a Child Alive program, and works closely with, among others, the Children's Defense Fund. She also serves as an Ambassador for Save the Children, and has been active in raising awareness of their relief services in the greater East Africa region. Additionally, Iman works with the Enough Project to end the global trade in conflict minerals, having played a key part in the public campaign against blood diamonds through her termination of her contract with the diamonds conglomerate De Beers over a conflict of ethics.
Over the course of her long modeling and philanthropic career, Iman has been the recipient of many awards. On June 7, 2010, she received a Fashion Icon lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), a special prize reserved for "an individual whose signature style has had a profound influence on fashion". Iman selected her friend, actress and former model Isabella Rossellini, to present the award. Wearing a gown designed by Giambattista Valli with four giant diamond bracelets on each arm, Iman thanked her parents "for giving me a neck longer than any other girl on any go-see anywhere in the world".
Iman first got married at the age of eighteen to a young Somali man with whom she had fallen in love. The marriage ended a few years later when she moved to the United States to pursue a modeling career. In 1977, she married American basketball player Spencer Haywood. Their daughter, Zulekha Haywood, was born in 1978. The two divorced in February 1987. On April 24, 1992, Iman married British rock musician David Bowie. They have one daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones, born August 15, 2000. Iman is also stepmother to Bowie's son from a previous marriage, Duncan Jones. Both children bear Bowie's legal surname. Iman and her family reside primarily in Manhattan and London.
List of acting performances in film and television
Year Title Role
The Human Factor 1979 Sarah
Exposed 1983 Model
Out of Africa 1985 Mariammo
No Way Out 1987 Nina
Surrender 1987 Hedy
In the Heat of the Night 1988 Marie Babineaux
House Party 2 1991 Sheila Landreaux
LA Story 1991 (cameo)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country 1991 Martia
The Linguini Incident 1991 Dali Guest
Remember the Time (music video) 1992 Queen
Exit to Eden 1994 Nina
Project Runway Canada 2007 self
Project Runway Canada 2009 self
The Fashion Show: Ultimate Collection 2010 self[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]