Iman

Ron Galella / WireImage,Ron Galella

Ron Galella / WireImage

Star From Somalia

Though she was born in Somalia, Iman attended high school in Egypt and later moved to Kenya to study political science at Nairobi University. While she was still a student, American photographer Peter Beard (pictured here at her press party in 1975) stopped the beautiful, young 19-year-old woman on the street. Soon, Beard brought his discovery—with her legendary long neck and high cheek bones—to America where her modeling career took off. Just a year after hitting the states, Iman landed her first job at Vogue in 1976.

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Gilded Goddess

At 26, Somali-American supermodel Iman had established herself in the fashion industry. She stood arm-in-arm with designer Calvin Klein at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's annual Costume Exhibition in New York in December 1981. “I was decked out in gold,” she later recollected to Elle Canada. “Calvin and I were very nervous; we never liked formal affairs—we were more comfortable going to clubs together—but we managed to smile through it.”

AP Photo

New Role, New Man

A few years after divorcing her second husband, basketball player Spencer Haywood, Iman stepped out with rock star David Bowie in 1991— that same year, she played a shapeshifter named Martia in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

Time Life Pictures / DMI / Time Life Pictures / Getty Images

Pre-Wedded Bliss

Iman and Bowie pose in January 1992, shortly before the two wed. "David doesn't fight," she recently told Harper's Bazaar of their relationship. "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."

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Do-Gooder

The supermodel poses with the host of honor at the Elton John AIDS Foundation's 11th Annual Oscar party in March 2003. Throughout her years, Iman became known for her charitable work by running her global cosmetics company, acting as a spokesperson for the Keep a Child Alive foundation, and working with many other organizations.

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Model Behavior

Iman poses alongside her husband, David Bowie, and fellow model Kate Moss at the 2005 CFDA Awards dinner party at the New York Public Library in June 2005.

Kevin Mazur / Wireimage

Cruising to the Top

At the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York in November 2006, Iman looked radiant in a red Valentino special-made dress as she posed alongside hot Hollywood couple, Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise.

Seth Wenig / AP Photo

Woman of the Year

As one of the honorees at the 2006 Glamour Magazine Women of the Year Awards in New York, Iman was among those extraordinary and inspirational ladies who took the stage at the ceremony.

International Success

For its July 2007 issue, Vanity Fair went African-themed and had U2 frontman Bono step in as editor. The biggest July issue ever included 20 covers, all shot by Annie Leibovitz, featuring Africa and its supporters— including Iman. "My Africa is rich in human resources and dignity... I get insulted when I see only images of our dying, our wars, our Darfur, our AIDS victims… not our doctors, our nurses, our teachers," Iman told the magazine. "Africa must find its own saviors: the salvation of Africa is in the hands of African women.”

Taking the Runway

In 2009, Iman became the host of Canada's installment of Project Runway and posed for the cover of the country's Elle in February of that year in a beautiful one-shoulder Monique Lhuillier gown. "Go for the gold and think global!" she told the magazine as her advice to the designers. "A beautiful dress is a beautiful dress, whether it's from Toronto or Timbuktu."

Essence of Beauty

A then 53-year-old Iman joined then 27-year-old tennis phenom Serena Williams and then 38-year-old Oscar-nominated actress Taraji P. Henson for the April 2009 Essence, proving that women can be "sexy at any age." Iman, a woman of many wigs, told the magazine, "It's important to experiment with different looks, so you don’t get stuck in a rut—so aging."

Evan Agostini / AP Photo

Such A Peach

Three years after she was honored, Iman returned to the Glamour Magazine Women of the Year Awards in 2009 at New York's Carnegie Hall.

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Rising Stock

Iman helped Essence magazine celebrate its 40th anniversary at the New York Stock Exchange in August 2010.

Ageless Beauty

As the face in front of her self-titled cosmetics line, IMAN Cosmetics (and Essence cover girl yet again in September 2010), this supermodel has continued to put out a flawless image. Her secret? Confidence. Iman told Hello! Canada, "Beauty is about being comfortable in your own skin. When women feel comfortable in their skin, they can do anything."

Evan Agostini / AP Photo

Living Legend

At the 2010 ACE Awards, Brand Launch of the Year honoree Rachel Roy stood alongside Iman, who presented at the November event in New York. As for her legacy, Iman told Rolling Out magazine, “I will be remembered [because] I was one of the models that broke barriers.”