As Told to Zulekha Haywood at Essence.com
I am saddened by the passing of the legendary supermodel Naomi Sims, but I take comfort in knowing that she has left us a proud legacy that all of us Black supermodels have benefitted from. In 2000, when I was working on my book â€śI AM IMAN,â€ť my husband, David Bowie, surprised me on my birthday with a pristine copy of her Life magazine cover story issue which served as a creative inspiration for the story I was trying to tell, and remains to be one of my most prized possessions.
Besides the fact that Naomi was aesthetically perfect in every way, what gave her that je ne sai quoi, that elusive certain somethingness, was her ability to be elegant and accessible at the same time. Her degree of elegance can be one of those qualities that looks effortless from an editorial sense, but you canâ€™t imagine that translating into everyday life. But Naomi did it; she made it look easy, and most importantly, she made it look like something every woman innately possesses.
Contrary to the belief that I looked for inspiration on my iconic images to the White glamour models of the bygone era, it was Naomi Sims and her Life cover that I was channeling in the photo belowâ€¦. she was truly an inspiration! Naomi will be missed for everything that she contributed to the female experience, not just the Black female experience. She was iconic in every way.
At my office for an interview for Ebony Fashion Fair 50th Anniversary Special
EBONY FASHION FAIR 50TH SPECIAL I participated in the celebration of Ebony Fashion Fair 50th year anniversary! Wow! This historic and well respected spectacle of high fashion to the masses was adored by millions of people in its heyday. It has launched the careers of a lot of black models from Pat Cleveland, Billie Blair, Norma Jean Darden and Naomi Sims to mention a few. With this special i do hope that young women can get a glimpse of their fabulous past!
With Michelle and Barack Obama, US Senator for Illinois, and Leontyne Price
ONE WORD, OPRAH! Only Oprah could have orchestrated such an amazing once in a lifetime event. A Bridge to Now… A Celebration for ‘Remarkable Women during Remarkable Times’ was a 3 day event called simply by her as LEGENDS WEEKEND, May 13-15, 2005 in Santa Barbara, where she has a home. It was a weekend to honor those women who came before us and has made it possible for us women now to reap the benefit of their strength, determination and pure survival. 25 women were honored and here are their names… Dr. Maya Angelou, Shirley Caesar, Diahann Carroll, Elizabeth Catlett, Ruby Dee, Katharine Dunham, Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Nikki Giovanni, Dr. Dorothy Height, Lena Horne, Coretta Scott King, Gladys Knight, Patti Labelle, Dr. Toni Morrison, Rosa Parks, Leontyne Price, Della Reese, Diana Ross, Naomi Sims, Tina Turner,Cicely Tyson, Alice Walker, Dionne Warwick and Nancy Wilson. Thank you Oprah for inviting me to be part of this historical celebration.