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Happy Birthday Iman: 10 Career Highlights of a Supermodel Turned Business Woman

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Supermodel Iman celebrates her 60th birthday on July 25. Sure she’s known for modeling some of the top designers in the world—Yves Saint Laurent, Thierry Mugler, and Gianni Versace, to name a few. But beyond strutting down runways all around the world, Iman is a businesswoman, philanthropist, wife, and mother who has revolutionized the way people live their lives.

[Related: Iman Launches Online Magazine]

In celebration of her birthday, here are a few highlights from her career:

  • In 1975, photographer Peter Beard discovered Iman. Her first modeling assignment was for Vogue in 1976. She became one of the most sought-after fashion models of the 1970s and 1980s.
  • In 1985, Iman starred in the 1985 Oscar-winning film, Out of Africa, alongside Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. She also played Nina Beka in the 1987 thriller, No Way Out, with Kevin Costner.
  • In 1994, frustrated by the lack of products for black skin, Iman launched IMAN Cosmetics, a beauty company that created the first cosmetics and skincare collection designed for all women with skin of color—Hispanic, Asian, Native American, as well as black. Much more than a campaign, the cosmetic line represented a movement aimed at all women of color. “I would go to cosmetics counters and buy two or three foundations and powders, and then go home and mix them before I came up with something suitable for my undertones,” she said during an interview with Black Enterprise writer, Lloyd Gite.
  • In 1999, Iman became a fund-raiser for Marion Wright Edelman’s Children’s Defense Fund, and created a lipstick with rapper Missy Elliott called ‘Misdemeanor;’ a portion of the proceeds were donated to Break the Cycle, an organization committed to ending domestic violence.
  • In 2000, Iman gathered 15 other black supermodels (including Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Oluchi Onweagba, and Noémie Lenoir) to be photographed by Annie Leibovitz for the cover of her book, I Am Iman.
  • In 2001, Iman published her first book titled, I am IMAN, an autobiographical sketchbook of her career that questions “the un-serious business of fashion and beauty, and its serious effect on identity.”
  • In 2005, she wrote her second book, The Beauty of Color: The Ultimate Beauty Guide for Skin of Color. It is recognized as the first beauty and makeup book that truly addresses skin tones across the spectrum: Latina, black, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Native American, as well as other ethnicities.
  • In 2007, Iman made history on HSN and HSN.com when she debuted Global Chic, a stylish collection of jewelry, bags, and fashion accessories inspired by Iman’s world travels. The collection includes replicas of several key items given to her from her husband, David Bowie – even one of her engagement ring.
  • In 2010, Iman received the CFDA Fashion Icon Award.
  • In addition to appearing as a guest judge on fashion TV shows such as The Fashion Show, and running Destination Iman, the fashion and beauty icon is also actively involved in several charities, including Save the Children, UNICEF ‘Go to School’ Initiative, Dr. Hawa Abdi Foundation, and Hope for Congo.

Happy Birthday Iman.