One of the first topics 40-something supermodel Iman launches into as our interview begins is the difficulty of finding a downtown office for her thriving cosmetics company, which produces the Sephora-distributed I-Iman makeup line. “I’ve been looking for the past four months, but the real estate market has been just mad,” she explains. “The other day I was at a space, and while I was standing there this guy from an Internet company doubled the price!” All in a day’s business, which lately has involved top-to-bottom product development, from choosing colours to designing the packaging and presentation of her new line. With couture-inspired colours and anything-goes attitude, I-Iman is designed for the “downtown” woman: “In New York we don’t follow any rules. The rest of the country might, but if an urban city girl wants to wear glitter during the day, she’ll wear it. We walk around in Manolos with no pantyhose in the dead of winter, so you know, the old rules don’t apply anymore – wear it wherever you want to wear it, how you want to wear it.”

Of course, you wouldn’t expect the wife of David Bowie, the notoriously fashion-bending rock star, to say otherwise. The surprise is, Iman has her own jokes about his past incarnations: “A friend of mine knows a mother who is a huge Bowie fan and her two-year-old can only say ‘Daisy’ Bowie,” she laughs. “I said, ‘Don’t correct her, he’s been known to be a Daisy!” But those days were long before they met at a blind date set up by a mutual friend. “He knew the first night, and me maybe two weeks later, that this might work. We talked until 3 a.m. – no kissing on our first date. He had just broken an engagement, I had lived with someone for four years. We both had our own baggage – his more than mine. But we also had so much in common. I didn’t expect it.”

The strangest twist of fate was that Iman had seen every one of Bowie’s New York concerts since 1976 and had been invited backstage – “I was a huge fan but I could never go backstage because you stand around and what do you say? ‘Oh, it was a great show’? So we never met. And thank God, because if we had met before, I don’t think we’d be together! It was the wrong time.”

Now nearing 10 years of marriage and preparing for the birth of their first child together (due at press time), the couple is moving from their Central Park West flat to a newly renovated SoHo loft on Lafayette. “We eat and socialize downtown. David can’t stand anything higher than 14th Street; he finds the essence of New York downtown, from just walking around and going to galleries to drinking coffee outside.” On the verge of so many new adventures, Iman disproves that life for a supermodel stops when the laugh lines start – and Iman laughs a lot.

(SoHo Style, Fall 2000)

Don’t miss my interview with David Bowie!