Iman is a Somali-American businessperson, supermodel, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Iman’s first career as a fashion model began in Africa when she was noticed by photographer Peter Beard while she was a student at the University of Nairobi. Beard’s subsequent portraits of Iman became the genesis of Iman’s modeling career and the catalyst that brought her from Kenya to New York. Beginning in 1976 with a booking from Vogue, for nearly twenty years, as model and as muse, Iman maintained a key place among many of both the 20th century’s and today’s epochal fashion designers and portrait photographers.
Coming up, she will release SUPREME MODELS on YouTube Originals on September 26. The six-part docu series is inspired by Marcellas Reynolds’ book Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion and follows the evolution of top Black models and their impact on the fashion industry, the Civil Rights and Black is Beautiful movements, and American culture.
In 1994, frustrated by the absence of adequate beauty products available for women with skin of color, Iman developed and founded IMAN Cosmetics. Having recently retired from modeling, Iman sought to address, fill and correct a glaring void in the beauty market. While IMAN Cosmetics was the first to offer products specifically formulated for skin of color’s distinct needs, one of the brand’s defining and distinguishing hallmark is its philosophy. Because women with skin of color represent many races, cultures and ethnicities, IMAN Cosmetics is designed for African American, Asian, Latina and multicultural women with myriad skin tones.
Iman’s fashion and accessories brand, IMAN Global Chic, retails on the Home Shopping Network, offering a complement of fashion savvy options for women of all ages, shapes and lifestyles. A perennial HSN favorite since 2007, IMAN Global Chic is imbued with seasonal trends, tastes, colors, prints and silhouettes.
Iman’s first book, entitled I Am Iman (Universe, 2001), was an autobiographical sketchbook of her career and that question ‘the unserious business of fashion and beauty and its serious effect on identity.’ Her second book, The Beauty of Color: The Ultimate Beauty Guide for Skin of Color (Putnam Penguin 2005) examines and pays homage to all of the spectrum’s skin tones: Latina, Black, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Native American, as well as multiple ethnicities.
For years, Iman has worked to support the efforts of an array of humanitarian organizations, including Keep a Child Alive, Save the Children, and the Children’s Defense Fund. In addition Iman has worked to help draw attention to war and famine in eastern Africa, appearing in a BBC documentary with regard and also addressing the United Nations.
Today, Iman serves as CARE’s Global Advocate. CARE is one of the largest and oldest humanitarian aid organizations focused on fighting global poverty. CARE’s programs address a broad range of topics including emergency response, food security, water and sanitation, economic development, climate change, education and health. CARE also advocates at the local, national and international levels for policy change and the rights of poor people. Within each of those areas, CARE focuses on empowering and meeting the needs of women and girls and promoting gender equity.