The superest supermodel and new host of Bravo’s The Fashion Show reflects on her career in the spotlight, fancying David Bowie, and why glamour is eternal. Read the interview and watch the behind-the-scenes video below and then see all the images from the December photo shoot. Keep reading BAZAAR for the latest on Iman.
By Simon Doonan
Iman is a legend, an entrepreneur, and a style icon. She is also the host, along with Isaac Mizrahi, of Bravo’s The Fashion Show. She’s so insanely fabulous that she has even designed a home collection—because who doesn’t want to live in her house? But who is the woman behind the flawlessly glamorous facade?
Simon Doonan: How many times a day do you Google yourself?
Iman: Every five minutes. I simply can’t take my eyes off myself. Kidding! I would rather Google other people than Google myself.
SD: Have you ever thrown a cell phone at anyone?
Iman:No! And if anyone threw one at me, it would come right back at them like a boomerang. If I feel frustrated in a situation, I take a deep breath and walk away.
SD: Do you and David ever fight? [Iman has been married to rock god David Bowie for 18 years.]Iman: David doesn’t fight. He is English, so he just stays quiet. I’m the screamer. Then he always makes me laugh. It’s like cabaret. I keep him entertained too. I still fancy him—totally!—after all these years.
SD: Which Bowie song do you adore?
Iman: So many! “Heroes” especially. “Suffragette City” always gets me dancing with my little girl, Lexi [age 10].
SD: Who takes more time to get ready?
Iman: David takes five minutes. Me? I don’t do anything by myself. I have a whole crew to get me ready every day.
SD: How many falls and wiglets do you own?
Iman: Millions! I believe in glamour. I am in favor of a little vanity. I don’t rely on just my genes. Looking good is a commitment to yourself and to others. Wigs, killer heels, Pilates, even fillers—whatever works for you, honey.
SD: What is the worst thing about being a parent?
Iman: The early mornings. There is soccer and music class at 7:30 A.M. Remember, I am 55. I can only take so much!
SD: I have seen you throw together a home-cooked meal in your kitchen. I was impressed. Was that just for PR purposes?
Iman: I vowed to myself when I got married that I would cook every night. I find it very therapeutic.
SD: What’s for dinner tonight?
Iman: Branzino with lemon. And David likes risotto, but I can’t do risotto tonight. It takes time, and I have homework to do with my daughter. Maybe a salad and orzo. And David buys dessert.
SD: You could be a lady of leisure if you so desired. Why not just lie around eating bonbons and listening to Ziggy Stardust?
Iman: Even Ziggy Stardust would put on 125 pounds if he ate bonbons all day! I come from Somalia. We start working young, and we understand that kind of life. I would be bored to death not doing anything creative.
SD: I heard rumors that you are doing a home collection.
Iman: When I stopped modeling in ’89, I got really into decor. Our home is very eclectic. My collection, Iman Home, is launching fabrics first. I made myself a turban out of one fabric.
SD: Who have you ever had homicidal feelings toward in the fashion business?
Iman: Geoffrey Beene! I loved his clothes but not him. Years ago, we were about to walk the runway and he pushed me. I said, “Don’t do that!” “You work for me!” he said, and I replied, “No, you’ve hired my services, dear. I don’t work for you,” and I left.
SD: Who is your favorite young designer these days?
Iman: Alexander Wang is one of my favorites. But he is like my daughter. He is like 12.
SD: I heard you were at the White House a while ago. Did you crash, or were you invited?
Iman: Cheeky! I met Mr. and Mrs. Obama years ago at Oprah’s Legends Ball. Oprah sat me next to Mrs. Obama because I majored in political science before modeling, so she thought we would have something to discuss. And then I went for lunch at the White House. It was brilliant! Mrs. Obama could not have been more gracious or beautiful. She is very smart, and for me, the thing I most envy is her children. When is the last time we saw two girls that age at the inauguration, and their mother did not have to say, “Sit still!” ?
SD: Are you a true New Yorker or a Somali girl?
Iman: Absolutely a New Yorker. I can tell you exactly when I switched. We moved downtown when Lexi was born. When 9/11 happened, 12 of our neighborhood firemen were killed. I looked around at the country that had adopted me and I became an American.
SD: You seem like an optimist and a positive force, but you must have done something appalling in your past.
Iman: I was once very rude to a young model. Just before I retired from modeling, I was at this shoot. The photographer said he was reading a biography of Marie Antoinette. The young model asked us, “What agency is she with?” [Shrieks of derisive laughter] We made fun of her, of course! When we were leaving, she said to me, “I hope I look as good as you when I’m your age,” and I said, “Don’t worry, darling, you won’t.” And then later I felt bad.
SD: When Diana Vreeland first saw you, she said, “Now, that’s a neck.” Is it ever weird having such a long neck?
Iman: My daughter likes to draw. She’ll say to me, “I am doing a portrait, so you have to sit still.” And then she’ll say, “Oh my goodness, you have such a long neck. Weird!”
SD: Have you ever dropped acid?
Iman: No, but I have dropped a lot of other things. I did the whole Studio 54 thing. My saving grace was that I always knew when to leave the party.
SD: Who do you idolize?
Iman: My father. He taught me how to be a parent and gave me a positive connection with men because he is a gentleman. And that is what attracted me to David. He is a gentle soul.
SD: Can you tell me about your new Bravo show? What’s your sign-off catchphrase?
Iman [lowering her voice and striking a serious glamour pose] : “I am sorry … you are out of fashion. “
- Love It or Hate It? Iman is all Glamour (bellasugar.com)
- Power Couple: Iman & David Bowie (fabsugar.com)
- Love It or Hate It? Iman’s Costume Institute Gala Look (bellasugar.com)
- Fab Read: Eccentric Glamour by Simon Doonan (fabsugar.com)
- Iman Cosmetics Creates a BB Cream For Women of Color (bellasugar.com)