‘He’s not my ‘late’ husband’: Iman speaks of grief over death of David Bowie | Iman

The supermodel Iman has opened up about her grief over the loss of her husband, David Bowie, saying she refuses to refer to him as “late”.

Vogue Iman cover

The couple were married in 1992. Appearing on the cover of January’s issue of Vogue magazine for the first time, the model, activist and entrepreneur talked about her enduring love for the musician, who died of cancer in 2016.

He is not my ‘late husband’. He is my husband,” she said, before discussing how the couple had managed to retain their independent identities while together.

“I don’t mind at all being referred to as ‘David Bowie’s wife’,” she added. But I always remind people that I existed before I met him. And he was also very particular. He never introduced me by saying, ‘Meet my wife’. He’d always say, ‘Meet Iman, my wife.’ So we both already had our own identity. We were separate together.”

Iman in flowing red dress
Iman was photographed for British Vogue’s cover by Nadine Ijewere Photograph: Nadine Ijewere

Iman also revealed how difficult it was to find space to grieve privately after Bowie’s death and said it was frustrating when people said they shared her pain. “It was too much,” she said. “Too much.

We lived a very private life and suddenly it felt like there was a target on mine and my daughter’s head. It got to the point where we had to leave our home [in New York City] because the public were always at the front door. Which I admire. I get it.

But there was a point where it was like, ‘OK, go home now.’ You had people who would take your picture, sell it and then come to you and say, ‘I feel your pain.’ And I’m like, ‘No, bitch, you don’t feel my pain, get away from me.’”

The 67-year-old – who was one of the most sought-after fashion models of the 1970s and 1980s – also talked about changing the fashion industry and resisting aging cliches.

She called the obsession with youth a “very western mentality”, and said: “I come from Africa – we celebrate getting older. A friend was telling me there’s been a rise in cosmetic surgery, all because [people] have been looking at themselves in Zoom meetings.

Vogue shot of Iman
The full feature will be in the January issue of British Vogue available via digital download and on newsstands from 20 December Photograph: Nadine Ijewere

“I’m, like, ‘If you are worried about that, just put the camera up [so it’s tilted down on your face], for God’s sake! This really is a mentality rooted in the west. For me, it has never been a problem.”

She said the urge to champion black models galvanized her decision to become an executive producer on the six-part YouTube documentary series Supreme Models. “I wanted to show not only the trials and tribulations, but also the joy and celebration.”

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