Category Archives: Fashion

Consider the New Stiletto Design Zvelle Your Ultimate Good Luck Charm

In the year since Sophie Grégoire Trudeau wore a pair of Zvelle shoes on her official visit to Washington to meet the Obamas (remember them?), the little line out of Toronto has seen its fortunes grow. Designer Elle AyoubZadeh’s staff has doubled in size, and for the person “who dresses from the feet up,” she has introduced the Noor stiletto. “We were offering shoes that were more suitable for work or going out casually,” says AyoubZadeh. “As we built our customer base, we wanted to offer something more.”

The limited-edition Noor is handcrafted at a family-owned factory in Brazil using combinations of suede and satin. But the most charming aspect is its anklet strap inspired by a bracelet AyoubZadeh received from her parents when she was just 13. Recreating those charms proved to be a challenge because they had to be the right size to be impactful. At first, they were too small. “When you wore them on your feet, it was really hard to appreciate them,” she says. The second time, she went a little bit bigger, but “the third time, they turned out perfect.”

AyoubZadeh likes her pieces to have special meaning, and the five charms—an Egyptian cat, a Hamsa hand, an evil eye, a pyramid and an upside down heart—promise good luck in Middle Eastern culture. Fun note: The upside down heart actually means “five” in the Persian alphabet (AyoubZadeh was born in Iran), and five is also her lucky number. “It’s not just for design’s sake,” she says. “There’s a lot of meaning culturally, socially and globally.”

Fashion Trend Bontok has managed to reach Fever Pitch

When I was a kid, every time my family went on vacation, my mother would break out her fabulously fake Louis Vuitton fanny pack. We have photo albums filled with her posing in New York, Boston, L.A. and Quebec City, a white tee tucked into faded mom jeans and the fanny pack around her waist. She didn’t care that it was so blatantly fake. It was a gift from her girlfriends (before she moved to Canada from South Korea in 1975), and although she did own an authentic LV Speedy, she was more interested in the hands-free practicality of her “travel bag” than the inauthenticity of a perfectly fine and damn-fly-looking fanny.

Clearly my mom was ahead of her time, because fakes have gone from fashion faux pas to must-have, thanks primarily to the high-end bootlegging ways of Demna Gvasalia at Vetements and Alessandro Michele at Gucci. Gvasalia was the first to turn the fake on its head with his high-end appropriations of brands like Thrasher, Champion and Canada Goose. (Legit collabs with Champion and Canada Goose would follow.) He took his logo-subverting skills to Balenciaga via his cheeky flip on the Bernie Sanders logo for Fall 2017. Michele began toying with luxury Gucci bootlegs last year when he showed “fake” Gucci tees (inspired by the popular ’80s Chinatown knock-offs) for Resort 2017. And this past May, he one-upped himself with a series of blatantly faketastic “Guccy” sweatshirts.

This tongue-in-cheek parodying of counterfeit culture has been directly influenced by the rise of streetwear—because, despite its four-figure price tags and posh clientele, Vetements is a streetwear brand. And if you squint really hard, Gucci is starting to look like one, too. “The boundary between high and low fashion has blurred so much that it has almost disappeared,” says Hannah Watkins, senior editor of prints and graphics for global trend-forecasting agency WGSN. “Street culture has been so influential on the catwalk and vice versa. There is no line anymore.”

Harlem couturier Daniel Day (better known as “Dapper Dan” of Dapper Dan’s Boutique) was one of the first to blur that line. Day became famous in the ’80s for co-opting luxury logos for his over-the-top, hip hop-inspired designs. The idea first came to him in 1983, when a customer in his shop was bragging about his new Louis Vuitton clutch. “I thought to myself, ‘Wow, if he’s so excited about that little pouch, imagine if he had a whole outfit made out of logos?’” Day began custom-making his own all-over-print “Gucci” bombers, “LV” sweaters and “Fendi” track suits for clients like Run DMC, LL Cool J, Bobby Brown and Salt-N-Pepa. “I didn’t do knock-offs…I did knock-ups,” says Day. “The original styles were drab and boring. I created something that was more exciting than what the brands themselves were doing.” In the end, litigation forced Day to shutter his shop in 1992.

Twenty-five years later, fakes have come full circle. In perhaps the most epic “real fake” fashion moment to date, Michele paid homage to a Dapper Dan design, sending a fur bomber jacket with enormous double-G-printed balloon sleeves down the runway for Gucci’s Resort 2018. It was a luxury appropriation of a Dapper Dan appropriation of an original Louis Vuitton logo. “It’s pretty bonkers,” laughs Shannon Schafer, senior fashion director at Nordstrom. “But maybe things need to be a little bonkers right now to break through all the noise and really be disruptive.”

Even Louis Vuitton is getting in on the crazy logo play. Take, for example, its recent bag collaboration with Jeff Koons. The pop artist’s “JK” initials appear in the brand’s insignia.

“The big designers are almost embracing the idea of the bootleg because they’ve realized it’s driving their brands,” says Watkins. “They’re not taking themselves so seriously anymore. But they’re clever—they know it’s a trend right now.”

The trickle-down has been hardcore—Aritzia riffed on Vetements with its own capsule of DHL-esque sweats. And indie brands and millennial artists have also taken up the appropriation call: Ava Nirui is Helmut Lang’s digital editor by day and makes luxury-logo mash-ups by night; Imran Moosvi sells his flashy custom bootlegs to the likes of YG, Lil Yachty and Tyga; and 17-year-old Austin Butts made his own Yeezy tees, which Kanye liked so much that he included them in his own pop-ups. Not long ago, a “cease and desist” would have been the response, but now it’s a different story. “If the big designers were to go after these pop-up people now, I think it would be detrimental to their brands,” says Watkins. “Whether it’s a fake or a real design that’s being spread on social media, it’s increasing their visibility and creating hype, which is what every brand wants.”

The rise of the faux fake has also increased the cachet of the obvious fake. Instagram is flooded with selfies of swag-y millennials showing off their so-bad-they’re-good duds. Even Vogue fashion news writer Liana Satenstein recently posted a photo of a fakes haul (a “Versace” tee and blatantly bad “Chanel” totes) from Tbilisi, Georgia. This trend is more about the ironic attitude than the actual garment—it trumps authenticity and even bad taste.

In the spirit of shameless fakery, I wore my mom’s “vintage” fanny pack (which I dug out of storage a couple of years ago) to an industry party. It’s a little crushed on one side, and the lettering on the “leather” patch has practically worn off, but this only adds to it’s subversive charm. Of course, it was all anyone wanted to talk about. “That is pure perfection,” said a friend. “It’s realer than the real thing.”

Victoria’s Secret Casting Is Paradise Street Style

Victoria’s Secret began its search for new runway stars early this year, and the final castings are currently underway in New York. The competition is stiff, with hundreds of beauties eager to join Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, and the Angel squad, so naturally the models in the running are putting their best feet forward. Indeed, they caused a veritable street style sensation yesterday as they headed to the brand’s Upper West Side headquarters, much to the delight of onlookers.

Casual glamour served as a recurring theme, with each model putting her own spin on the look. Liu Wen breezed by in a frayed-denim miniskirt and Chanel bag; Hailey Baldwin opted for a transparent crop top with skinny jeans, and Maria Borges delivered in a patterned romper. Many opted for lingerie-inspired pieces, including satin tops or see-through shirts, but underwear as outerwear wasn’t the only choice. Veteran VS star Izabel Goulart arrived in a ruffled, off-the-shoulder top that showed off her sculpted physique, while Angel Jasmine Tookes wore the flirtiest of summer dresses layered beneath a denim jacket. Bucking the trend for jeans and lace, Leomie Anderson found a fresh way to show her figure in a spandex Alexander Wang jumpsuit.

Though you’ll have to wait a few months to see who made the final cut, yesterday’s street style highlights provide a peek at who’ll be wearing wings come December.

Real Cost of Buying Fake Designer Goods

I arrive at what appears to be a vacant storefront near Toronto’s Wychwood neighbourhood. The windows are papered over, and there’s no sign on the door. But the door is unlocked, so I tentatively enter a room lined with large plastic bins crammed with a veritable Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory selection of designer goods: fur-lined Gucci mules, crystal-encrusted Christian Louboutins and a rainbow’s worth of Valentino “Rockstud” pumps. A narrow corridor leads to another room with floor-to-ceiling shelves overcrowded with Chanel, Saint Laurent and Céline purses. None of them are the real thing.

To gain access to this secret depot of luxury fakes, you need to be referred by a previous customer. Ava*, a 27-year-old entrepreneur who has been shopping here for the past two years, told me about the place. I’m not the only one here on this rainy Thursday afternoon. A mother urges her daughter to decide which Chanel bag she likes best. Across the room, a woman is trying on shoes with the proprietor of the business, a tanned blonde who appears to be in her early 40s. I recall the conversation I had with Ava about her. “I don’t know her name,” she told me. “We all have her in our phones as ‘Bag Lady.’”

The quality of counterfeit products has always ranged from bags that practically scream “Channel” beneath interlocking Cs to borderline-indistinguishable Hermès fakes that cost $2,000 (instead of $20,000 for the real deal). The goods on offer at the Bag Lady’s store range between $350 and $1,500—a fake Louis Vuitton tote, for example, will run you close to $700. According to Rania Sedhom, a lawyer with the Bespoke Law Firm in New York who counts Moda Operandi and The Luxury Marketing Council among her clients, some counterfeiters today can produce fakes that are good enough to elicit a double take, instead of an eye roll, from discriminating purse hounds. They typically buy the original designer bag first, she says, study it in order to replicate it and then source high-quality materials from the same leather mills that supply the designers. Not only is the leather of some high-end fakes super-creamy but the advent of 3-D printing allows counterfeiters to create an exact prototype of what appears on a real designer bag and mass-produce it. Fakes are also becoming easier to buy. Sedhom claims that a retailer you’ve never heard of might pop up on Instagram or Snapchat with a link to a website claiming to sell authentic merchandise with a convincing backstory.

“Once they get a ‘cease and desist’ letter, they’ll shut down, open under a new name and then continue to sell their merchandise,” says Sedhom. She suggests steering clear of sites where you’re buying directly from an individual. Instead, she recommends sites like The RealReal, which authenticates all merchandise before putting it up for sale.

Some luxury brands are smoke bombing counterfeiters by embedding radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips, which are the size of a grain of rice, into their products. The technology uses electromagnetic fields to identify and track the whereabouts of an object. RFID chips are beginning to gain traction in the United States but less so in Europe, where stringent privacy laws forbid tracking people without their knowledge and consent. In theory, customers can use their smartphones to scan the RFID chips and authenticate their purchases. Exactly where the chips are embedded is harder to say—companies often change the placement to make it more difficult for counterfeiters to replicate the products.

For Ashlee Froese, a fashion and branding lawyer at Fogler, Rubinoff LLP in Toronto, buying counterfeit items—whether they’re good fakes or not—isn’t the biggest issue. She wants consumers to be aware of the dark side of the business. Since these bags are illegal, she says, it’s unlikely that the owners of the factories in which they are manufactured pay attention to upholding workers’ and human rights. And it’s even more unlikely that these businesses are coughing up taxes on these illegal goods, which means less money is going toward essential infrastructure like roads, education and health care. According to some press reports, the Canadian counterfeit market is worth $20 billion to $30 billion. The scariest part of buying fakes, adds Froese, is that law enforcement has linked the illegal profits to international terrorist organizations.

When I asked Ava why she and her friends would rather purchase fakes than save up for a real bag, she answered, “I guess it’s because we’re all so impulsive.” Counterfeits are a form of short-term gratification: You get to wear the It item while it’s still cool but don’t have to pay the full price.

The fakes in the Bag Lady’s sketchy shop are convincing—at first glance. But when I take a closer look, there’s something slightly off. The gold and silver designer logos haven’t been stamped hard enough, so they’re almost floating atop the leather. My eye gravitates toward a pair of silver-foil Gucci loafers, but I don’t try them on, let alone make a purchase. The downsides—both human and legal—to purchasing a fake concern me, and so, too, does the hollow feeling of inauthenticity that they elicit. There’s a thrill to wearing a recognizable logo—I get that—but if it’s a fake, taking pleasure from the artifice may come with its own karmic shadow.

Rei Kawakubo Ties Business Like Its Design

When the Internet company I was working for in the mid-’90s switched me from World Cup soccer coverage to fashion, I found there were two things about my new beat that flummoxed me: the zealous reverence for Italian Vogue and the repeated mention of someone named Ray.

“Ray who?” I was dying to ask. His name sans surname was always coming up at the fashion events I attended. It was not until some time later that I figured out “Ray” was Rei Kawakubo. And by the time the Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York finishes in early September, the greater public will also be on a first-name basis with the 74-year-old Japanese designer.

In talking about Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçons, one inevitably mentions certain landmark events in its history: its atomic-chic Destroy collection in Paris in 1982; its bulbous lumps-and-bumps Spring 1997 collection; the triple-sleeved shirts; the perfume that smells like photocopier fluid; the braces ad; the chromatic progression from fetishized black to red to gold.

Less known are certain fillips of information that have slipped through the media sieve in amusingly terse interviews meted out to journalists over the years. Like the fact that Kawakubo’s mother was an English teacher and a divorcee—the latter a rare and renegade thing to be in postwar Japan. Some attribute Kawakubo’s sustained rebellion against fashion norms to the original matriarchal revolt. She hasn’t commented on that—at least publicly—but her quotes in the show notes from the exhibit provide some insight into her unorthodox point of view: In 2011, she said, “I never give myself any boundaries or let them interfere with my work.” In 2012, Kawakubo made her manifesto clear: “Personally, I don’t care about function at all…. When I hear ‘Where could you wear that?’ or ‘It’s not very wearable’ or ‘Who would wear that?’ to me it’s just a sign that someone missed the point.”

And what is that point? It’s not about making clothes for Kawakubo; it’s about creating objects for the body that have a conceptual and transgressive connection to the human silhouette. Or, as she said in 2015: “Things that have never been seen before have a tendency to be somewhat abstract, but making art is not my intention at all. All my effort is oriented toward giving form to clothes that have never been seen before.”

On display at the museum are all the highlights of Kawakubo’s profoundly punk career, if we take “punk” in the larger sense of uncivil disobedience. There is the Comme des Garçons “lace”­—the falling-apart knits of the early ’80s. There are the signature asymmetry, wigs and frayed hems and the outsized ruffles, bows and tulles. What will be more difficult to exhibit is design of a less tangible kind—which is to say, the Comme des Garçons way of doing business.

Kawakubo has said that she “‘design[s]’ the company, not just clothes.” The privately held company generates somewhere in the ballpark of $220 million a year in revenue. It does so with business ideas that are as avant-garde as the clothing.

Unlike other typically hierarchical corporations, Comme des Garçons has a horizontal strategy that carpet bombs the market with diffusion lines, spinoff brands, collaborations and unusual retail concepts. Besides the main women’s and men’s collections, there are currently 18 different product lines, ranging from Play, Tricot and Shirt to Wallets, Girl and Homme Plus. Then there are the numerous collaborations, which Comme des Garçons began doing before other brands. There were the prescient retail projects, like the guerrilla pop-up marts, which it stopped in 2011 when everyone else caught on. There are also the market-shopping experiences, like Dover Street Market.

But perhaps the most unusual way Kawakubo has designed her company is that it has evolved a stable of designers. Neither a collaboration, nor a collective nor a conglomerate, the umbrella organization of Comme des Garçons and its satellite of designers grow out of a modern-day master-apprentice guild: Junya Watanabe, Tao Kurihara (though she discontinued her line in 2011), Fumito Ganryu (who left the company earlier this year) and Kei Ninomiya.

And then there is Gosha Rubchinskiy. Comme des Garçons owns the Gosha label, but it is unclear whether the Russian designer has the same relationship to the mother ship as his Japanese counterparts. In the case of Watanabe and Ninomiya, each designer is independent yet conversant with Comme des
Garçons vernacular and, as such, benefits from the protection offered by the company’s big tent. The Gosha venture, whose post-Soviet aesthetic is entirely distinct, is an outlier and, possibly, a new kind of business in the Comme des Garçons universe.

Comme des Garçons benefits from the pervasive buzz of all these lateral associations without the full weight, presumably, of having to run them. It operates a little like a franchise that somehow escapes the blanket sameness of, say, Tommy Hilfiger. The Comme des Garçons business model has its rules but retains the playfulness and wiggle room essential to its cool factor. This makes its design every bit as radical as a three-armed shirt, and somehow, despite that, it’s a money-maker.

Slip and Slide Into Fall With 25 Pieces of Summer Sleepwear

While getting dressed up is one of life’s simple pleasures, there are some days where it feels like too much mental energy to properly compose an outfit for all of the activities on your schedule. If you’re feeling especially tired, as many do at the end of a sun-filled summer, it may seem impossible to wake up early enough to pull together a bona fide look. So if you’re starting to experience those seasonal blues, simply take a cue from the louche vibes of the ’70s—just roll right out of bed and into a silky robe or slip dress and slides (as close to slippers as one can get away with in public).

If you’re looking to embody the chic caftan look you may have seen in old family photographs, then Rianna + Nina’s colorful, intricately printed robe offers a chic, modern take on the tried-and-true silhouette. In contrast, Sies Marjan’s millennial pink shift dress feels distinctly modern, as does Voz’s blush floor-length slip, which you can wear underneath Etro’s reversible deep paisley silk robe. If you’re really feeling sleepy, or you’re just a fan of the super-cozy pajama trend, then opt for a silky and velvety pale blue sleepwear set from F.R.S For Restless Sleepers. Of course, none of these rakish looks is complete without a slipper-adjacent shoe of some sort. From Maison Margiela chrome mules that feature a large crystal buckle to yellow leather and animal-print Haider Ackermann slides, there’s a plethora of comfortable options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a glamorous robe to wear around the house or you’re trying to make your summer staples a bit cozier for fall, these nine looks will let you embrace your most louche life.

Shop for Apparel In Good and Complete Shop

Dress Barn clothing stores are retail outlets which specialize in women’s clothing and apart from a prominent physical presence these stores enjoy business through the net as well through their online website. In the fashion-conscious and appearance-conscious world of today, everyone wants to present themselves in the best possible manner and since clothes form an important part of one’s overall look, it becomes imperative to select the right kind of clothes. It has been remarked many-a-times that clothes make or break a person and hence a visit to the clothing store is a must every once in a while for an individual who sets a lot of store by his clothes.

The Dress Barn Clothing Stores are not only one of the best options for women but are also well known all over the world for women’s footwear as well as accessories. These stores not only produce and sell fashion products for women, but they also offer a wide variety of apparel wherein one can select from a wide range of dresses, sweaters, skirts, pants, jackets and a variety of other accessories. Apart from featuring the latest trends and fashions at reasonable prices, one is likely to come across business wear, formal wear, casuals, accessories, handbags as well as shoes which can go through with help from one of the friendly and knowledgeable shop assistants.

Apart from the 800 retail outlets dotted all across the country, the Dress Barn clothing stores have an online website as well in which one would come across detailed catalogs of their clothing and accessories, information about the company, the various locations of their stores, the prices of their products, the latest trends and discounts and also about discounts and other schemes. Since this organization has been specialized in women’s clothing for more than 40 years, the experience is evident in the range of sizes which are offered as well as the expertise of the well trained staff which assist the customers to find the right apparel for themselves.

Good Handbags With New Colabirs

Two ela models, the Editor’s Pouch and MILCK Mini will feature floral details lifted from Belcourt’s gorgeous large scale acrylics resembling traditional indigenous beadwork. The Ela x Christi Belcourt collaboration will also help raise funds to build a permanent Onaman Collective camp in Northern Ontario where elders can connect with younger first nation’s people year round.

According to Belcourt The Onaman Collective is run completely by volunteers without government funding, so organizers have sold art or held auctions to finance operations.

Belcourt contintued to say the facilities are not fancy or extravagant but done for the love future generations. Belcourt, who lives in Espanolo, Ontario has artwork hanging in the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto. But she’s hardly a stranger to fashion. Luxury Italian fashion house Valentino drew inspiration from Belcourt’s piece “Water Song” for their Spring 2016 collection.

The ela X Christi Belcourt collection will be available in stores and online at holtrenfrew.com as of Tuesday, September 5; $75 from each Mini MILCK Clutch($395) and $10 from each Editor’s Pouch ($50) will go towards supporting The Onaman Collective.

If you’ve ever learned a foreign language or read a book that has been translated, you’ll understand the meaning of the term “mother tongue.” We all simply understand things better in the language we were raised. There are nuances to words, turn of phrases that mean one thing to one person, and something else to a person in a different language. And when one is left without language there are stories that will never be shared.

For Canada’s indigenous communities, movement off ancestral lands and upbringings in residential schools meant the loss of traditional language, and by default, crucial links to their histories have been lost. The topic of traditional language is a flashpoint for Indigenous people all around the world, and here in Canada, there is a thriving grassroots movement intent on reclaiming indigenous dialects for young people.

This is why, three years ago, Metis artist Christi Belcourt (along with Isaac Murdoch and Erin Konsmo) founded The Onaman Collective in Northern Ontario.  This community arts group is “dedicated to the resurgence of Indigenous ways of being and knowing.” That includes language immersion workshops, and knowledge about life on the land. Demand is such that the collective is looking to build a year round structure to make their activities available to more.

“We bring youth and elders together on the land, for culture, language, and traditional and community arts,” said Belcourt who was in Toronto to talk about Holt Renfrew’s latest H Project launch, the ela X Christi Belcourt  limited edition handbags.

How Can a Guava Become a Staple of Street Style

Hosiery walks a fine sartorial line, leading a double life as clothing in public and lingerie in private. Its allure is in leaving something to the imagination. Nothing plays the erotic game of peekaboo better than a pair of fishnets as they simultaneously reveal and conceal what’s underneath.

Last September, Kim Kardashian posted an Instagram photo of her topless torso with black openwork Wolford tights stretching above the waistband of her half-done button fly. Like so many of her social media endeavours, the post sparked a frenzy, and the fishnets-and-denim combo took off. Worn under distressed mom jeans or glute-grazing cut-offs, the look has become an #OOTD favourite of virtually every style darling, including blogger Chiara Ferragni, model Hailey Baldwin and singer Pia Mia. In April, Kardashian’s sister Khloé commercialized the approach with a new style from her denim line Good American that features holes patched with fishnets. Meanwhile, in June, Austrian luxury hosiery company Wolford reissued the Kaylee style seen in Kardashian’s post due to popular demand.

Fishnets are a garment loaded with innuendoes, thanks to their origin in cabarets like the Moulin Rouge. In the 1970s, early punks literally tore them apart, giving nets a bad-girl reputation that still resonates nearly five decades later. “It was part of the whole punk ethos of bringing in deliberately disgusting and objectionable styles that were scavenged from bad taste or pornography or both,” says Valerie Steele, fashion historian and director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. “Once that happened, fishnets were really ripe to keep being revived as a somewhat punk, definitely sexy component in fashion. It re-emerges periodically every few years.” She points to the powerful suggestion of violence inherent in a pair of damaged tights. “Have you fought off someone? Or are you just so degenerate that you wear clothes that are falling apart?”

Vanessa Cesario, the 25-year-old behind Toronto style blog The Brunette Salad, channels this rebellious spirit by using fishnets to add an element of surprise to her slick streetwear-heavy ensembles. “They’re a way to amp up outfits that are otherwise safe,” she says. “I think that now, more than ever, women, myself included, like to wear things that could have been seen as taboo.”

Faith Appears Back in 41 Years

Peter Beard and Arthur Elgort: Beginnings

In 1976, after I’d arrived in New York, aged 20, my very first modeling job was forVogue. It was not, however, my first sitting; that happened a year or so earlier in Kenya. There, by chance, I made the acquaintance of the rakish photographer-cum-adventurer Peter Beard. When Peter proposed a photo session, though I could never have envisioned the trajectory it would set in motion, I could at least see negotiating a fee for the equivalent of my college tuition—and a deal was struck.

Growing up in eastern Africa in the 1960s and ’70s, I could not have aspired to become a fashion model even if I’d wanted to: If they existed, news of their habits never reached me at boarding school. My own idols came from the Arab world’s then-splendid music and movie stars, such as Umm Kulthum, Faten Ha­mama, and Mariam Fakhr Eddine. When the day of Peter’s shoot arrived, though I brought along my own face and body, these were the women whose images I summoned to bring me to life in front of the camera. I pretended I was all of them. More prosaically, for protection, I also brought my five girlfriends, who stood sentinel just outside the camera’s frame. While I was hardly confident, I was not scared. I felt I had nothing to lose, only to gain. In Arabic my name, Iman, means “faith.” I had faith.

Peter Beard took his pictures back to New York, and not long after I was brought over, too. My first booking was for the delightful Arthur Elgort, fashion’s long-reigning master of photographs that are elevated yet effervescent, joyous and beautifully real. I was a naïf, a quivering bundle of nerves. Arthur’s photos betray a very tentative look in my eye.

In time my hesitant steps became a strut, and I took my place in fashion’s great kaleidoscope.

Helmut Newton: Naked Deeds

Fifteen wild, wordless years later, I was in my mid-30s, and the inevitable crossroads was at hand. A freshman class of models—Linda, Christy, Naomi,Cindy—was coming up. This, in combination with my own restlessness, made it plain that it was time for me to start a new chapter. Also, it seemed prudent to make an exit before being shown one.

I announced far and wide that I was officially hanging up my modeling skates. My exit was proclaimed with one final “farewell” shoot. Since my signature look and posture had evolved into a theatrical style (it was the anything-goes seventies and eighties, after all), it was poetic justice that Helmut Newton was cast as the master of ceremonies. Being shot one last time by this provocateur par excellence ensured that my modeling career would end as dramatically as it had begun.

We all assembled in Monte Carlo, Helmut Newton’s home and source of inspiration. Vogue’s André Leon Talley, a giant in every sense—height, knowledge, and fabulousness—was the stylist. The results were classic Newton: the mythic woman, omnipotent in the (almost) altogether and rendered in images that were fashion but also a tad louche—and ultimately Newton-spectacular. Portraying me with a defiant stance and attitude, the pictures were also an emblem of victory.

Irving Penn: Master Class

I had set my sights on Los Angeles with the stated aim of pursuing—what else?—acting. While I did actually manage to make a couple of movies, I ultimately associate the City of Angels with being precisely that. It was here that I met and fell in love with my everlasting soul mate, Mr. David Bowie. Life for me changed fundamentally.

Nevertheless, I love to work. In L.A. in 1993 I began to develop Iman Cosmetics. This new venture—and also this new couple—eventually led to me and David being photographed by the supreme Irving Penn.

At the shoot, there were a minimum of hands on deck: just Mr. Penn, his long-standing, trusted editor, Phyllis Posnick, and a couple of others. There was none of the usual flurry and exaggeration that so often characterizes a sitting. Zero foolishness. The atmosphere was neither austere nor surgical, just marvelously uncomplicated and calm. Mr. Penn’s humor, prescience, and genuine kindness were utterly disarming; you became a docile hunk of clay to be shaped. Finally, Mr. Penn was astonishingly quick with his work. We had barely been seated, with a few slight directions lightly communicated, when click, click, click, voilà, we were done. Both David and I were a little stunned, and I remember murmuring, “That’s it?” Mr. Penn laughed and said, “Yep. I got it.”

Having admired his portraits for years and then being the focus of one, I harbor the fancy that Irving Penn’s camera was also part X-ray machine and part crystal ball. Its subjects are beautifully rendered but also totally revealed. Here I think of his series of shrouded Moroccan women, uniformly covered, no human element to discern, and yet—somehow—the images radiate the essence of the women’s souls. David and I were astounded by our portrait’s composition: two distinct people who ultimately identified as one. Mr. Penn had tapped into our shared heart and, with his alchemy, brought the inside out.

Annie Leibovitz: Eye And Empathy

In 1998, Vogue assigned a story on my fellow Somali and sister model Waris Dirie, who was then, as both victim and advocate, bravely bringing to the world’s attention the horrifying practice of female genital mutilation. Since the procedure is prevalent in Somalia, as well as in many other parts of Africa, I was tapped to conduct the interview. Given the traumatic nature of Waris’s tale, I was really just grateful to be there to offer her solidarity and maternal protectiveness.

Our portrait was assigned to Annie Leibovitz, who brought her uncommon sensitivity and empathy to the story. In my opinion, it’s not Waris’s pain that gives the image its mesmerizing strength but rather the compassion it stirs in the viewer. Annie didn’t attempt to search out and reveal some repressed secret in Waris, or in our friendship; she astutely understood that the reason Waris stood before her was revelation enough.

Herb Ritts: Great Expectations

When Vogue arranged my sitting with Herb Ritts, the world had just turned 2000. I was 44 and expecting a child, my second daughter. With the exception of an ankle bracelet (my own), I found myself naked before the camera again. But this time, it was a Herb Ritts nude, a dreamy, innocent counterbalance to Mr. Newton’s.

The sitting took place in a studio in Los Angeles, an important detail considering that Herb loved to capture and imbue his pictures with the light and lushness of southern California. Herb himself was filled with sunlight and warmth, so, like Midas, he quite naturally turned everyone he touched to gold, too—even a woman of a certain age in the throes of expecting: not an easy feat.

He imagined, and positioned, me as an homage to classical sculpture. Only Herb Ritts could master the paradox of creating a nude portrait, bathe it with sensuality—yet never reveal “too much.” These sensitivities were key qualities of this gentle, gracious, and wonderful man.

Bruce Weber: My Happiest Time

Two gifts, Bruce Weber and Grace Coddington, working on a 1995 South African portfolio with David and me, made for a charmed experience. Bruce brought buoyancy and joy; Grace brought trunks filled with classic mid–twentieth century clothing. For once it wasn’t just me gamboling for the camera; my husband jumped in, too. It didn’t feel like a shoot but like a capricious second honeymoon that just happened to include an extraordinary photographer and stylist: We were a merry band of four turned loose in South Africa. The photographs owe their radiance to Bruce’s brilliance at sensing the moment when fun, mischief, and intimacy converge.

It was during this sitting that Bruce created David’s favorite portrait of himself and me: two sweethearts sneaking a smooch, yet with David—ever the gentleman—playfully blocking the moment with his hat for the sake of politesse. David loved this photo for its play on privacy: a kiss that’s caught, yet shielded from view.

Some months ago, the stars demanded David’s presence. We surrendered a husband, a father, a father-in-law, a friend, a mentor, and all the nameless daily ecstasies that occur between people who love one another. The outpouring of grief over David’s passing has helped me tremendously, though sometimes I’ve been at odds with it, too: Universal grieving for your life partner can also keenly deepen your own sense of all that you’ve lost. David gave me the most exciting, touching, and deliriously loving 24 years. Still, it was not enough— shockingly brief. And although I’ll never get used to losing him, David is nonetheless hiding in plain sight. We have our beautiful daughter, Lexi, now seventeen; a year ago, David’s son, Duncan, and his wife, Rodene, gave birth to a son, Stenton; my daughter Zulekha and her husband, Jason, will bless us with a baby this summer. With this burgeoning family, I’ve added a new title to my list: Nana. So I’m Mom and Nana now, while striving to live up to my name in spirit and example; to have iman; to always have faith. As for David, I have perfect iman that we’ll be together again. Love doesn’t cease; love reshapes.