The most frequent comment made by anyone who has gazed upon Iman in person is that the woman does not age. That glowing skin with nary a wrinkle could be straight out of Michael Jackson’s "Remember the Time" video from 1992 (the year she married David Bowie). But as Iman pointed out at Allure’s twentieth-anniversary dinner earlier this week, that’s only partially true. “The face stays good,” she said. “I’m my father’s daughter. My father is 80 and he looks 40. So I’ve inherited that. The body is a different thing.”
The face, she explained, maintains its youthful glow thanks to a mixture of genetics and skin care. “We don’t get makeup in Africa, but skin care, skin care, skin care,” she said. “Like brushing your teeth twice a day. That’s how we are taught when we are very young. The idea is that the skin you take care of in your teens is the one you are going to inherit in your 60s and 70s.” (Hmmm. Wish our mothers had taught us that.) It also helps that her dermatologist is the exorbitantly expensive Patricia Wexler, who has steered Iman toward SPF and away from Restylane, not that Iman has a problem with injected beauty fixes. “Every time there’s a new filler, I will say to her, ‘What do you think of this?’ And she’ll say, ‘That’s enough. I’ll tell you when you need it.’ And then she’ll always give me, like, SPF 50. It literally looks like white chalk on the face. But that’s what I do. I have no fillers. I haven’t done anything. But religiously skin care and SPF.”
The body, though, gives her constant anxiety. When she arrived at the Allure dinner in a pristinely white Victoria Beckham dress, it wasn’t wine spillage that worried her, but the dress’s above-the-knee hemline. “It’s very virginal, this little short, white ... I look 12,” she said rather apologetically. She’d actually had the dress in her possession since late January, when she was supposed to wear it to a luncheon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in honor of the models who’d walked in the notoriously controversial Grand Divertissement à Versailles fashion show in 1973. “But I tell you,” said Iman. “I couldn’t muster the nerve to wear it, you know, during the day. I’m 55. I thought, ‘No way!’ I could not do this.” Even en route to the Allure dinner, she’d made sure to cover up with a much longer Prada coat.
It wasn’t just that the dress looked young, but that it exposed her thighs. And she has no easy advice for keeping the body looking young. “Oh, there’s no way,” she said, dismay in her voice. “Gravity, there is no winning.” Of course, it’s worse aging as a public figure. “I’m so petrified about all the paparazzi. They did Victoria [Beckham]’s cellulite. I mean, come on! I mean, it’s terrifying. Really, you’re, like, scared to death.” So she has settled upon a solution that, while not necessarily available to women who aren’t beauty moguls married to David Bowie, is kind of heartening to hear. “I will go only to my house in the islands [Jamaica]. WITH SECURITY,” she said. “Nobody can come. Your own house. That is the only time I put on a bikini or any bathing suit. It is the only way.”