The night before the Venice International Film Festival begins, the fashion industry will honor iconic supermodel Iman with the Franca Sozzani Award, WWD is reporting. The award honors women for their artistic careers as well as their social commitment. Sozzani’s family established the award after her death from a rare form of cancer in 2016. Julianne Moore was the first to get it and then Salma Hayek. Iman will be honored at Sozzani’s favorite restaurant, the Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Italy on August 27.
“Iman’s work has disrupted the fashion industry in a way similar to Franca’s: bold, innovative and inclusive,” tells Carrozzini WWD. “Using her platform to the best of its potential, Iman’s work from lobbying the CFDA for an increase of diversity on the runway to impactful humanitarian work, displays her true passion and focus. We are truly honored for her to accept the Franca Sozzani Award.” In addition to celebrating Iman, the award also marks the beginning of The Franca Sozzani Fund for Preventive Genomic s at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard.
When Iman burst onto the modeling scene in 1975, she never imagined she could have such a prolific career. “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,” she told Vogue in 2017.
Not content with dominating the runway, when she launched IMAN Cosmetics, in 1994 and is available at mass retailers, it was one of the very first makeup lines to cater to women with deeper complexions. In 2014, Iman teamed up with Naomi Campbell and Bethann Hardison under the moniker Diversity Coalition to hold the industry accountable.
“There were more Black models on the catwalk when I started in the 1970s than there are today,” she said in an interview with the Evening Standard in 2014. “The absence of models of colour sends a message to our young girls that they are not good enough, they are not beautiful enough,” she said. “Photography and the runways are such powerful tools, and say such a lot about our society. It is so much bigger than the catwalk.”
For the span of her career, Iman has been committed to uplifting Black women and educating the masses about her hometown, Somolia. Just like she fought for equal pay between white and Black models, she isn’t afraid to call the industry out on its racist tendencies — which is especially pertinent in today’s racist landscape.