Birthplace: Mogadishu, Trust Territory of Somaliland
Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid (Somali: Zara Maxamed Cabdulmajiid, Arabic: ايمان محمد عبد المجيد; born 25 July 1955), mononymously known as Iman ("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 philanthropic work. She is the widow of English rock musician David Bowie, whom she married in 1992.
Iman was born Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid in Mogadishu, the capital of the Somalia. She was later renamed Iman at her grandfather's urging. Iman is the daughter of Marian and Mohamed Abdulmajid. Her father was a diplomat and a former Somali ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and her late mother was a gynecologist. She has four siblings: two brothers, Elias and Feisal, and two younger sisters, Idil and Nadia.
Iman lived with her grandparents during her formative years. At the age of four, she was sent to boarding school in Egypt, where she spent most of her childhood and adolescence. Following political unrest in Somalia, Iman's father moved the family back to the country. At his behest, she, her mother and siblings subsequently travelled to Kenya and were later joined by her father and younger sister. There, she studied political science at the University of Nairobi for a brief period, in 1975.
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 muse for many prominent designers, including Halston, Gianni Versace, Calvin Klein, Issey Miyake and Donna Karan. She was a favorite of Yves Saint-Laurent, who once described her as his "dream woman".
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.
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 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 Cosmetics was a US$25-million-a-year business by 2010. It is centered on $14.99 USD foundations in 4 formulations and 14 shades, and is among the top-selling foundation brands on Walgreens website.
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.
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.
Iman twice appeared in Miami Vice, playing Dakotah in Back in the World (1985) and Lois Blyth in Love At First Sight (1988). She also had a guest role as Mrs. Montgomery on The Cosby Show (1985). 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. Bravo started the series to replace its former hit Project Runway that has now moved to the Lifetime network.
An occasional actress, Iman first featured in the 1979 British film The Human Factor, and had a bit part in the 1985 Oscar-winning film Out of Africa starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. She then portrayed Nina Beka in the 1987 thriller No Way Out with Kevin Costner, and Hedy in the Michael Caine comedy Surrender the same year. During her first year in Hollywood in 1991, Iman worked on several successive film productions. Among these was the Tim Hunter-directed Lies of the Twins and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, where she played a shapeshifting alien. Iman also dabbled in some comedic roles, appearing in The Linguini Incident the same year opposite her then fiancé David Bowie. Additionally, she had smaller parts in the 1991 comedy House Party 2 and the 1994 comedy/romance film Exit to Eden.
Iman made a cameo alongside her husband David Bowie in the 1999 Windows 9x and Dreamcast 3D adventure game, Omikron: The Nomad Soul. It was developed by the video game company, Quantic Dream. In the game, 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 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. She 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 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. 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 married at age 18 to a young Somali entrepreneur, a Hilton executive. The marriage ended a few years later when she moved to the United States to pursue a modeling career.
In 1977, Iman dated American actor Warren Beatty. Later that year, she got engaged to 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. The wedding was later solemnized on 6 June in Florence, Italy. They have one daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones, born 15 August 2000. Iman is also a stepmother to Bowie's son from a previous marriage, Duncan Jones. Both children bear Bowie's legal surname. Iman and her family resided primarily in Manhattan and London. When Bowie died on 10 January 2016, making her a widow, she wrote in tribute to him that "the struggle is real, but so is God."
|Human Factor, TheThe Human Factor||1979||Sarah|
|The Cosby Show||1985||Mrs. Montgomery|
|Out of Africa||1985||Mariammo|
|No Way Out||1987||Nina|
|In the Heat of the Night||1988||Marie Babineaux|
|House Party 2||1991||Sheila Landreaux|
|Lies of the Twins||1991||Cat/Elie|
|Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country||1991||Martia|
|Linguini Incident, TheThe Linguini Incident||1991||Dali Guest|
|Remember the Time||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|
Iman supports the following charitable causes: AIDS, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Women's Issues.