As the world is still reeling from the passing of creative genius David Bowie, I know I am…so, I wanted to take the time and recognize his beautiful super model wife for our version of #WCW – simply phrased “Gallant Gal”. Because women like Iman will be highlighted in this category for being beautiful inside and out. Not just eye candy, these are female movers and shakers orchestrating or facilitating change.
Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid was born July 25th 1955. Professionally known as Iman, meaning “faith” in Arabic, is a Somali fashion model, actress and entrepreneur. She pioneered the field of ethnic cosmetics, she is also recognized for her charitable work.
Born in Mogadascio (later africanized to Mogadishu), in the Trust Territory of Somaliland, during the final years of Italian rule. She 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. For her education, Iman attended high school in Egypt and later lived in Kenya, where she studied political science at the University of Nairobi
Iman is Muslim. She is 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 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 musefor many prominent designers, including Halston, Gianni Versace, Calvin Klein, Issey Miyake and Donna Karan. A favorite of Yves Saint-Laurent, he once described her as his “dream woman”.
After almost two decades of modeling, Iman started her own cosmetics firm in 1994, focusing on difficult-to-find shades for 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.
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.
In 1977, she married American basketball player Spencer Haywood. Their daughter, Zulekha Haywood, was born in 1978. The two divorced in February 1987.
On 24 April 1992, Iman married English rock musician David Bowie in a private ceremony in Lausanne, Switzerland. They have one daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones, born 15 August 2000. Iman is also stepmother to Bowie’s son from a previous marriage, Duncan Jones.
Aside from starting a game-changing global cosmetic company that spoke to an otherwise ignored market consisting of women of color, 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 greaterEast 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. Work!
Miss Iman was also an actress. My favorite role played by her was “Queen” in theMichael Jackson music video “Remember The Time” (1992) by Michael Jackson, co-starring alongside Eddie Murphy and Magic Johnson!
It’s sad that the world lost a legend far too soon… A human being that changed the game and paved the way for fellow artists to embrace their weird and challenge society and it’s silly rules. But as I saw the posts that Iman uploaded on her Instagram, it made me sad for her and their family. Everything looks perfect from the outside anywhere you look, but they seemed to have something rare and special. He was an icon to us, but to her he was a best friend and a husband. He was also a regular human being. Sending all my thoughts and positive energy to them during their time of grieving.