June 10, 2010 – Iman was honored with the Fashion Icon Award on Monday night by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. This is an award given to “an individual whose signature style has had a profound influence on fashion.” Iman is almost 55 years old but could even pass for twenty something… I’m jealous
She was recently featured in a New York Times article which chronicles her journey from Nairobi, where she was attending university when she was discovered by photographer Peter Beard, to her current success as an entrepreneur, covering her three decades as a model revered by fashion designers and publications, as well as her marriage to David Bowie.
She tells the well-documented story of how she arrived in New York in 1975, the daughter of a Somali diplomat. She spoke five languages but had never worn makeup or high heels.
She credits the nurturing she got from designers, who gave her confidence in an era when model-muses were prized for their individuality — and their own ideas. “We were allowed to talk and to change things,” she said.
Designers like Yves Saint Laurent or Mr. Mugler expected her to speak up. “Do you like that? Would you wear it that way? ”She said. “You could be your own person. And nobody walked the same way on the runway.”
“Don’t get me wrong, there are great girls today,” she said, listing stars like Raquel Zimmermann, Coco Rocha and her namesake Chanel Iman. “But they have lost that role, of collaborating with the designers. There is not that relationship anymore.”
It’s an opinion shared by Mr. Kors, who recalled his first fashion show in 1984, when Iman restyled a shawl her way before she hit the catwalk and how much better it looked.
“No way would that happen today,” he said. “It’s hard for a 16-year-old model to have an opinion.”
After 14 years of modeling, Iman made what was a breakthrough move in 1994, starting her own cosmetics line, featuring impossible-to-find foundation shades for women of color. More than just the pretty face on the package, Iman was the brains behind what was inside those tubes and bottles. She knew what she was doing; for years, she’d been mixing her own formulations for makeup artists to use on her.