Iman's father was the Somali ambassador to Saudi Arabia, so she and her family traveled quite a bit while she was growing up. Iman attended high school in Egypt and later lived in Nairobi, Kenya, where her parents still reside. She studied political science in college before being recruited as a model by American photographer Peter Beard.
Iman then relocated to the United States, where she married basketball player Spencer Haywood in 1977. Their daughter, Zulekha Haywood, was born in 1978, but the couple divorced in 1987. In 1992 she married British rock star and actor David Bowie. They have one daughter together, Alexandria Zahra Jones, born on August 15, 2000. She is also the legal stepmother of Bowie's son, Duncan Jones. Her family primarily resides in Manhattan and London.
Iman has become a citizen of the United States and is currently CEO of Iman Cosmetics, Skincare and Fragrances, a product line created to especially for women of color. She has also occasionally taken on acting roles, including playing a shapeshifter named Martia in the 1991 hit film "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country", and a character in the computer game "Omikron- The Nomad Soul".
Iman is a spokesperson for Keep A Child Alive, which provides drugs to HIV/AIDS children and families in Africa and India. She guest starred on Bravo's TV show, Project Runway, where she wore contestant Daniel Vosovic's dress to a publicity shoot. She also guest-starred on America's Next Top Model as one of the weekly mentors in Cycle 5, and she is currently the host of Project Runway Canada on the Slice network in Canada.
In December 2007 Iman launched her signature fashion line, IMAN Global Chic, on HSN.