Posted by Stephanie Baker on
Sometimes referred to as Somalia's most famous export, model and business executive Iman was one the most sought-after supermodels of the 1970s and '80s. Discovered by photographer Peter Beard on the streets of Nairobi, she quickly became a stunning and exotic face for the American public. In the 1990s, she launched her own line of ethnic cosmetics. She is married to rock musician David Bowie.
Early Life in Somalia
Model, business executive. Born Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid on July 25, 1955, in Mogadishu, Somalia. Iman is sometimes described as her native land's most famous export.
One of the most sought-after fashion models of the 1970s and 1980s, Iman became a successful business executive in the 1990s with her own line of cosmetics. Married to rock star David Bowie since 1992, she became a mother for the second time at the age of 44 in the summer of 2000, but it was just one of many boundaries the enigmatic entrepreneur and social activist has broken in her lifetime. "She broadened the definition of beauty," declared Washington Post writer Robin Givhan of Iman's stunning, exotic looks. "She made earthiness sensual. She helped to transform fashion into entertainment and models into personalities."
Iman's mother, a gynecologist, gave her daughter a man's name when she arrived into the world with the hope that this would better prepare her for the challenges she would face as a female in Muslim East Africa. Her parents were decidedly progressive: Iman's father was a diplomat stationed in Tanzania, and under the law he could have had multiple wives, but chose to keep just one. The parents agreed that their daughter should be sent to a private Catholic school for girls, which was considered more progressive than the standard Islamic education available to young females in the 1960s. There, Iman thrived. "I was a very nerdy child," she told husband David Bowie when he interviewed her for Interview in 1994. "I never fit in, so I became laboriously studious."
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