LOS ANGELES — This town sparkles with stars on television, in the movies and on the sidewalk à la Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. But even a jaded Tinseltown denizen couldn’t resist turning giddy upon spotting Iman here at Thursday’s party celebrating the launch of the fashion icon’s first beauty book, “The Beauty of Color,” at the Roosevelt Hotel.
“It’s Iman right there,” squealed an onlooker in the hotel’s dimly lit hallway. “She’s gorgeous,” gushed another passerby, who admired Iman’s leopard-print skirt by Azzedine Alaïa, red Prada sweater and diamond-encrusted orchid brooch designed by Neil Lane.
Iman arrived in Los Angeles for the last stop in a 10-city book tour, which, over a month, took her from Washington and Atlanta to Dallas and Chicago, among other cities. Along the way, she greeted fans of varying ages and skin tones, who relished the beauty book’s how-to tips and baby pictures of 19 celebrity subjects, including tennis pros Venus and Serena Williams, rapper Eve, cooking show host Padma Lakshmi and actress Eva Mendes, who hosted the Target-sponsored party.
Actress Michelle Rodriguez, who is of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, said she was “psyched” when Iman asked her to be in the book. “I’ve always admired her,” Rodriguez said, adding that beauty is not only about good looks, but also about being articulate and charming.
Raised in Somalia, Iman may go by a single name, but she holds multiple claims to fame. After moving to the U.S. from Africa 30 years ago, she became one of the first and most famous black supermodels. In 1994, she founded an eponymous cosmetics, fragrance and skin care line that is sold at Sephora in France, Debenhams in the U.K. and Duane Reade, Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens and other stores in the U.S. The 50-year-old wife of rocker David Bowie and a mother of two, Iman also published her autobiography, “I Am Iman,” in 2001.
Iman said she tried to differentiate her new book, which was written with Tia Williams, from other beauty tomes by focusing on different skin tones instead of ethnic backgrounds and showing readers how to enhance their natural beauty and accept who they are. Reiterating the message that Mexican-Lebanese actress Salma Hayek made in the book’s foreword, Iman said, “If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, let the beholder be you.”
While a multicultural crowd lounged in overstuffed leather couches and a hip-hop bass reverberated under a gold chandelier in the hotel’s lobby, Iman ensconced herself in the dark, wood-trimmed library doubling as a VIP room. Joined by her evening’s escort, Alan Cumming, she discussed plastic surgery and beauty techniques that “westernized” ethnic women, for instance, making eyes bigger on Asians. “It’s awful,” Cumming said.
Iman also dispensed beauty advice. Her declaration that everyone looks good with a bronzer resulted in a sellout of her line’s skin enhancer in Memphis. “Jennifer Lopez didn’t become J.Lo without a bronzer,” Iman noted.
In Mendes’ case, the Cuban-American actress didn’t give much thought to beauty growing up. “I looked up to my mom,” the Revlon spokesmodel said, adding that Mama Mendes always had her hair teased and pinned. The parental advice showed in Mendes’ casual but sexy updo that complemented her low-cut turquoise dress by Grey Ant. Beauty is individualist, Mendes said. “We’re not perfect,” she said. “If you were perfect, how boring is that?”