Legendary Model Chronicles How She Snuck into the US to Pursue Fashion Career


Somalia-born fashion model Iman, born Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid, revealed to New York magazine Tuesday how she snuck into the United States to break into the fashion world more than four decades ago.

The supermodel, who has walked for legendary designers Versace, Calvin Klein, and Donna Karan, said she faced several barriers when trying to launch her career. One of those was traveling to the United States.

“I was under 18, and to leave Kenya to come to the United States, to get a passport, you had to be 18,” she said.

Iman was studying at the University of Nairobi at the time, which clashed with her lifelong dream of becoming a supermodel.

“So I lied and said I was 19 to get the passport, because [otherwise] I had to have permission from my parents, and my parents would never have let me come,” she continued.

Born to a diplomat and gynecologist, Iman’s interest in high fashion presented a challenge within her family. All obstacles aside, the legendary model was still able to fly under the radar and travel to New York City to pursue her dreams.

“You know how they found out? I was in Newsweek a week later,” she explained. “It’s the only magazine my father reads, and the next thing, he’s reading, and there’s a picture of me in New York, [saying,] ‘She’s the hottest model now.'”

Iman, now 59, married David Bowie in 1992. She admits her decision was risky, but one that she does not regret.

“I broke the law!” she said. “But nobody can touch me now, I’m 60 years old, it’s too late. The time has passed.”


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