Supermodel Iman broke barriers in the fashion industry. (Photo: Iman)
“Never lie about your age. You have earned it,” encourages the Somalian-born supermodel Iman. If anyone could lie about their age it’s Iman who looks unbelievably young for 60. As to how to age beautifully Iman has some surprising advice — gain weight to look younger. “I keep on 5 to 10 pounds above my jeans weight, as the ultimate no-filler-needed refresher, and buy a size up on jeans,” Iman tells Yahoo Beauty. “I don’t need to fit in my jeans that I wore in my 20s!”
Iman on the cover of Italian Vanity Fair. (Photo: Vanity Fair Italia)
On Tuesday, September 8, Iman will most likely share more of her beauty and style knowledge when she’s a guest at the 92Y’s Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis series. Since arriving in New York in 1975, Iman became one of fashion and beauty’s most famous faces. However, her experience as an African American model inspired her to launch her own brand IMAN Cosmetics in 1994. “My first photo shoot in 1975 was for Vogue. The makeup artist asked me a perplexing question,” Iman recalls. ‘Did you bring your own foundation?’ “He didn’t ask the only other model in the makeup room, who was Caucasian, but directed the question at me.” At the time, Iman didn’t wear any makeup or even high heels. “Obviously I had no idea what foundation meant, and I replied, “no”. He proceeded to mix and match, and when he was finished, I looked at the mirror and was mortified,” she remembers. Though she wasn’t familiar with products, she knew what she saw wasn’t right. Her complexion had been compromised. “I looked grey and not my beautiful brown skin,” says Iman. “As a model, my photos are my currency. Thank the gods of beauty that those photos were in black and white.” She says, “Black and white images hide multitude of sins.”
After that first experience, Iman bought every foundation on the market that had pigment. She purchased items from department stores, drugstores, and everything in between. With the goal of never being caught empty handed by an unprepared makeup artist, she mixed and matched to create a foundation that fit her. She took it to every shoot and every fashion show and her next move was clear. “I knew what I wanted to do when I retired from modeling. I wanted to create a brand for those of us who were ignored,” says Iman, who is the founder and CEO of the brand. “It is for all the beauties around the world who march to their own new world beauty.”
The skincare and cosmetics collection is designed for African America, Latina, Asian and multi-cultural women and includes BB creams, CC creams, 16 foundation shades, eye shadows, lipsticks, and so much more. It is available all over the world — in Africa, Brazil, France and other countries — including the United States, where it is sold at retailers such as Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Target and Duane Reade.
“Let’s face it: women of every race, nationality and background want the same thing; to look radiant and feel beautiful in their own skin.” (Photo: Iman)
For Iman, celebrating multicultural women in a global world is important to her, and a huge step away from her experience in the 70s in New York. “At that time, ‘ethnic" and 'women of color’ meant one thing: Black. It later evolved to include Latina or Asian, but from an early age I began seeing more similarities than differences among different ethnic groups,” she says. It became apparent to her that the beauty of transcended race and ethnicity to include all women with skin of color. “Let’s face it: women of every race, nationality and background want the same thing; to look radiant and feel beautiful in their own skin.”