For her education, Iman attended high school in Egypt and later lived in Kenya, where she studied political science at Nairobi University.
Iman is Muslim, and fluent in five languages: Somali, Arabic, Italian, French and English.
While still at university, Iman was discovered by American photographer Peter Beard, and subsequently moved to the United States to begin a modeling career. Her first modeling assignment was for Vogue a year later in 1976. She soon landed some of the most prestigious magazine covers, establishing herself as a supermodel.
With her long neck, tall, thin frame, fine features, naturally straight hair, copper-toned skin, and exotic accent, Iman was an instant success in the fashion world, though she herself insists that her looks are merely or typically Somali. She became a muse for many prominent designers, including Halston, Gianni Versace, Calvin Klein, Issey Miyake, Donna Karan, and, in particular, Yves Saint-Laurent.
I remember the first time I saw Iman, there use to be a GAP on Sixth Avenue, here in New York in the Village, well, she came out of that GAP as I was walking in, I thought I would faint! She was absolutely stunning, with just a pair of jeans and a white T-shirt with stilettos! I watched her as she walked to the end of the block to hail a cab and noticed the entire block had come to a stop and everyone was looking at her, how could they not, she took complete command of the sidewalk.