Iman (model)

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Iman at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.jpg
Iman at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival for the premiere of Moon
Born Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid
(1955-07-25) 25 July 1955 (age 63)
Mogadishu, Somalia
Nationality Somali
Ethnicity Somali
Alma mater University of Nairobi
Occupation Model, actress, entrepreneur
Spouse(s) Somali man
(m. 1973; div. 1975)
Spencer Haywood
(m. 1977; div. 1987)
David Bowie
(m. 1992; his death 2016)
Children 2
Modeling information
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[1]
Hair color Dark brown[1]
Eye color Dark brown[1]
Manager Tess Management

Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid (Somali: Iimaan Maxamed Cabdulmajiid,[2] Arabic: ايمان محمد عبد المجيد‎‎; born 25 July 1955[3]), professionally known as Iman ("faith" in Arabic), is a Somali fashion model, actress and entrepreneur. A pioneer in the field of ethnic cosmetics,[4] she is also noted for her charitable work. She is the widow of English rock musician David Bowie, whom she married in 1992.[5]

Early life

Iman was born in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. She is the daughter of Marian and Mohamed Abdulmajid.[6] Her father was a diplomat and a former Somali ambassador to Saudi Arabia,[7] and her mother was a gynecologist.[8] She has four siblings: two brothers, Elias and Feisal, and two younger sisters, Idil and Nadia.[9]

For her education, Iman attended high school in Egypt and later lived in Kenya,[7][10] where she studied political science at the University of Nairobi.[11]

Iman is Muslim.[12] She is fluent in five languages: Somali, Arabic, Italian, French and English.[13]



Iman at the Metropolitan Opera opening night on 25 September 2006.

While still at university, Iman was discovered by American photographer Peter Beard, and subsequently moved to the United States to begin a modeling career.[7][14] 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.[7]

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 and Donna Karan.[10][15][16] A favorite of Yves Saint-Laurent, he once described her as his "dream woman".[17]

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.[15]

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.[10]

She is signed to TESS Management in London.[18]


Iman Cosmetics

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 women.[4] 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.[10]

As of 2010, Iman Cosmetics is a US$25-million-a-year business. It is centered on US$14.99 foundations in 4 formulations and 14 shades, and is among the top-selling foundation brands on Walgreens website.[10]

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.[19]

Global Chic

Due to her marketability and high profile, Iman was approached in 2007 by the CEO of the Home Shopping Network (HSN) to create a clothing design line. Inspired by her childhood in Egypt and modeling time with Halston, Iman's first collection introduced embroidered, one-size-fits-all caftans. Today, her 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.[10]



Iman twice appeared in Miami Vice, playing Dakotah 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.[20]

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.[10][21]


An occasional actress, Iman first featured in the 1979 British film The Human Factor, and appeared in the 1985 Oscar-winning film Out of Africa alongside Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. She then portrayed Nina Beka in the 1987 thriller No Way Out with Kevin Costner, Hedy in the Michael Caine comedy Surrender the same year, and later played a shapeshifting alien named Martia in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). Iman also dabbled in some comedic roles, appearing in The Linguini Incident in 1991 opposite her husband David Bowie, as well as the 1994 comedy/romance film Exit to Eden.[22]

Video games

Iman 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.[23]


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.[15] 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.[24] 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.[25][26]


Over the course of her long modelling and philanthropic career, Iman has received many awards. On 7 June 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.[10][27] 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".[27]

Personal life

Iman with her husband David Bowie in 2009.

Iman first married at age 18 to a young Somali man. The marriage ended a few years later when she moved to the United States to pursue a modeling career.[28]

In 1977, she married American basketball player Spencer Haywood. Their daughter, Zulekha Haywood, was born in 1978. The two divorced in February 1987.[29]

On 24 April 1992, Iman married English rock musician David Bowie in a private ceremony in Lausanne, Switzerland. The wedding was later solemnized on 6 June in Florence, Italy.[30] They have one daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones, born 15 August 2000.[31] Iman is also stepmother to Bowie's son from a previous marriage, Duncan Jones. Both children bear what was Bowie's legal surname. Iman and her family resided primarily in Manhattan and London.[32] She became a widow when Bowie died on 10 January 2016.[33]


  • I Am Iman (2001)
  • The Beauty of Color (2005)


List of acting performances in film and television
Title Year Role
Human Factor, TheThe Human Factor 1979 Sarah
Exposed 1983 Model
Miami Vice 1985 Dakotah
The Cosby Show 1985 Mrs. Montgomery
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
Lies of the Twins 1991 Cat/Elie
L.A. Story 1991 (cameo)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country 1991 Martia
Linguini Incident, TheThe 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
Fashion Show: Ultimate Collection, TheThe Fashion Show: Ultimate Collection 2010 self

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Iman Abdulmajid – Profile". Fashion Model Directory. Retrieved 2012-05-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Maxaad ka taqaanaa Iman?". Ladaneey. March 23, 2010. Retrieved 27 April 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Iman, Peter Hill Beard, David Bowie, I Am Iman (Universe Publishing, 2001), p. 15.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Iman Cosmetics". Working Woman. 20: 67. 1995.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Sandle, Paul; Faulconbridge, Guy (11 January 2016). "David Bowie dies after 18-month battle with cancer". Reuters. Retrieved 11 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Iman, Peter Hill Beard, David Bowie, I Am Iman, p. 11.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Supermodel Iman is Ottawa bound for TV show. (2008-06-25). Retrieved on 2012-05-09.
  8. Women of Achievement – Iman. Retrieved on 2012-05-09.
  9. Iman, Peter Hill Beard, David Bowie, I Am Iman, p. 17.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 Iman: Not Just Another Pretty Face at the Wayback Machine (archived June 7, 2010). New York Times (2010-06-06)
  11. Iman sizes up hopefuls of 'Project Runway Canada'. (2009-01-25). Retrieved on 2012-05-09.
  12. "Talk About English – Better Speaking – Episode 8". BBC. Retrieved 8 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "The World of Work" (PDF). Retrieved 10 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Iman – Profiles – Project Runway Canada. Retrieved on 2012-05-09.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 INTERNATIONAL SUPERMODEL IMAN TO HOST PROJECT RUNWAY CANADA Archived 13 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  16. New Chapters for Iman. (2001-12-24). Retrieved on 2012-05-09.
  17. Beauty Icon: Iman. Retrieved on 2012-05-09.
  18. Iman Porfolio. Tess Management. Retrieved on 2012-05-09.
  19. Dolan, Margaret (26 July 2013). "Designers and Twins Ayaan and Idyl Mohallim Find Fans of Their Line Mataano the World Over". Papermag. Retrieved 29 November 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Iman at the Internet Movie Database
  21. Sneak peek : 'The Fashion Show: Ultimate Collection'. Retrieved on 2012-05-09.
  22. Iman the fashion icon. Retrieved on 2012-05-09.
  23. Omikron: The Nomad SoulAllgame
  24. "Five Seeds of Hope for Somalia". Huffington Post. 13 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Exclusive: An Intimate Interview with Supermodel and Activist Iman".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Meldrum, Andrew (9 May 2004). "Iman cuts De Beers links in ethics row". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 15 August 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. 27.0 27.1 Dodes, Rachel (2010-06-09). Kors, Jacobs, Iman Take Home Fashion Awards. Retrieved on 2012-05-09.
  28. Iman, Peter Hill Beard, David Bowie, I Am Iman, p. 54.
  29. "Spenser Haywood timeline". Seattle Times. 25 February 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Pegg, Nicholas (2006). The Complete David Bowie. Reynolds & Hearn. p. 238. ISBN 1905287151.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. FIRST LOOK: The News in Brief, August 15, 2000. (2000-08-15). Retrieved on 2012-05-09.
  32. "'He still ties my shoes for me': Iman reveals how David Bowie makes her feel special". Fashion Model Directory. 2010-12-25. Retrieved 2012-05-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. Paul Gallagher (11 January 2016). "David Bowie died from liver cancer he kept secret from all but handful of people, friend says". The Independent.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links