Fans mourned when David Bowie died in January 2016, at the age of 69. But no one felt the loss of the rock legend more than his family. Two years on from Bowie’s passing, then, his widow, Iman, opened up to reveal the heartbreaking promise she has made about their relationship.
Iman herself was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, in July 1955 as Zara Mohamed Abdulmajid. However, her late grandfather later suggested a name change to Iman – a moniker the former model still uses to this day.
And after attending boarding school in Egypt, Iman earned a place at the University of Nairobi in Kenya, where she studied political science. A life in politics would ultimately not be for her, though; instead, she decided to relocate to the United States to try and make it as a model.
It didn’t take long for Iman to establish herself in the fashion industry, either, with her first modeling job being for Vogue in 1976 – just one year after she had arrived in the U.S. Subsequently, she began appearing on the covers of some of America’s top fashion magazines, cementing her position as a talent in her field.
In the process, Iman became a go-to model for top designers such as Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Gianni Versace. Yves Saint Laurent once even called her his “dream woman.” Then in 1994, she began to branch out beyond photoshoots by founding her own cosmetics brand.
Iman had retired from her career as a model in 1989, though, and has since concentrated on her eponymous make-up line for women of color. She has also tried her hand at acting and designed a clothing collection for the Home Shopping Network.
And, of course, the former model has a private life, too. At 18, she had married an executive for Hilton in Somalia; that union ended, however, upon her relocation to the U.S. The star then went on to date Warren Beatty and marry former NBA player Spencer Haywood in 1977; she and Haywood would also have a daughter named Zulekha the following year. But that marriage didn’t last, either, with the couple ultimately divorcing in 1987.
Then in 1990 Iman met David Bowie at a dinner party. The musician – who would later claim that he had been instantly smitten by the former model – then asked her out for afternoon tea. And a romance followed, with the couple becoming engaged in Paris, France. They later wed in Switzerland in April 1992.
Iman and Bowie became parents, too, when they welcomed daughter Alexandria in August 2000; Bowie already had a son, Duncan, from his first marriage to Angie Bowie. The rock star and the supermodel then enjoyed nearly 24 years of marriage before Bowie died in 2016.
Prior to Bowie’s relationship with Iman, though, he had already had a long and illustrious career. After a period as an aspiring star, the performer released his classic track “Space Oddity” in 1969, and it became a hit in the U.K. that year. He then went on to become a household name thanks to song “Starman” and the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. And proving that he was no mere flash in the pan, Bowie continued his run of commercial prosperity throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
Indeed, Bowie ultimately became known as one of the most innovative and successful musicians in history. During his career, he sold around 140 million albums across the globe and even received an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2016, however, tragedy struck.
Bowie had been diagnosed with liver cancer; he kept this fact a secret from the media, however, and continued to work. Then, just a couple of days after turning 69, the singer passed away at his apartment in New York City on January 10, 2016.
After Bowie’s death, Iman chose to pay tribute to her late husband on Instagram. There, she wrote, “The struggle is real, but so is God.” And over two years later, she revealed that she had made a vow regarding her marriage to Bowie.
During an October 2018 interview with Net-a-Porter’s Porter magazine, the one-time model was asked whether she has thought about moving on with someone else. She insisted, however, that Bowie was and is her last husband. “I will never remarry,” she told the publication.
Iman continued, “I mentioned my husband the other day with someone. And they said to me, ‘You mean your late husband?’ I said, no, he is always going to be my husband.” Nevertheless, the star didn’t rule out the possibility of potentially finding love again.
“I do feel very lonely. But do I want a relationship? I can’t say never, but no, not now,” Iman told the magazine. And she admitted that as much as she understands how Bowie’s admirers were affected by his death, the loss had been a lot harder for her and her family.
“I get the fans’ grief, but it’s not the same. They have lost someone they look up to; we have lost a husband and a father,” Iman said. “And sometimes, I don’t want people to know how sad I am.” After her candid interview came out, though, fans appeared touched by her words.
“When I look at her, I believe in soul mates. Grief had overwhelmed her completely. I hope someday she can come [to] terms with the loss,” one commenter wrote on the Daily Mail website. Another user added, “When you had your great love, nothing will compare.”
Fans also pointed out that her devotion to the musical icon is easy to see. “You can see the pain in her eyes. Bless her, she must miss [Bowie] so very much,” one user wrote on the news website. And another agreed, saying, “He’s so missed. You can tell how she adored him.”
But although Iman is still mourning the tragic loss of her husband, she has revealed that she is taking life day by day. The star added to Porter, “People say to me, ‘Oh, you’re so strong.’ I’m not strong – I am just trying to keep it together.”