Iman Says the Fashion Industry Has Gotten Less Diverse in Recent Years
By Meredith B. Kile
Dennis Leupold/Harper's Bazaar
Iman broke many barriers throughout her modeling career, but she says the fashion industry still has a long way to go.
The stunning 62-year-old supermodel opened up to Empire star Taraji P. Henson about style, trends, and diversity in fashion in the April issue of Harper’s Bazaar -- noting that, from her perspective, the industry actually seems to be moving backwards.
“There were more black models working back when I started than there have been recently,” she explained. “So Bethann Hardison, Naomi Campbell, and I got together a couple of years ago to raise awareness about the need for diversity in fashion. We talked about it in the press and to the CFDA, and I think we’re seeing the change on the runways and in campaigns.”
For Iman, who is a mother to a 17-year-old daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones -- whose father is the model’s late husband, David Bowie -- promoting diversity in the fashion world is primarily about increasing representation and encouraging aspiring models from all backgrounds.
“People used to say to me, ‘You just want to be invited to the table,’” she recalled. “And I’m like, ‘F*** the table—I can buy my own table.’ But the young girls who are coming up? They need to see themselves portrayed.”
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Iman Shares Rare Photo of Her and David Bowie's Gorgeous Teenage Daughter
The Somali-born supermodel, who dons an incredible Tom Ford gown and Valentino jumpsuit in the magazine’s new issue, explained that change within the industry must come from all levels -- from casting to designers.
“If a designer boycotts me, I should boycott him,” she explained. “I’m not going to buy a bag from someone who doesn’t use black models. We should celebrate and highlight the people who actually step it up.”
The fashion icon also opened up about her secrets to staying timeless in the ever-evolving design world.
“I’ve always lived by the philosophy that in a world full of trends, I want to remain a classic,” she said. “True style is like a great black-and-white picture: It never looks dated.”
One era that should never return, however? “Anything from the 1980s.”
“If you’re 20 years old, [shoulder pads will] look great on you,” she noted. “But they don’t travel well.”
See more on the model’s life and career in the video below.