They were together for 25 years and had a cosmic connection. Still, Iman once said she never fell in love with David Bowie.
While it may have been love at first sight for David Bowie when he met his now wife, the philanthropist and former model Iman wasn’t convinced.
The musician has previously said he “was naming the children the first night we met”.
“I fell in love with David Jones,” the Somali-American supermodel told the Guardian in 2014, referring to the given name of the English rock legend, who died Sunday at age 69.
“Bowie is just a persona,” she explained. “He’s a singer, an entertainer. David Jones is a man I met.”
Indeed, they managed to live – and treasure – a normal life together, despite the megafame that came with being the ultimate global trailblazers in their respective fields.
The couple have been married for 22 years and have a daughter together, 13-year-old Alexandria Zahra Jones. Iman has a daughter from her previous marriage to basketball player, Spencer Haywood, and she is also stepmother to Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones.
PEOPLE visited their New York City apartment in 2005, and found the family – with then-5-year-old daughter Lexi – to be the image of domesticity.
“We are very normal,” Iman said, explaining that she cooked dinner for her husband every night, that she took Lexi to music and dance lessons, and that Bowie and Lexi would play music together all the time.
Of his entrepreneur wife, Bowie told PEOPLE at the time: “She’s uncanny at keeping the business at her office and the woman at home. But she’s a mom 24/7.”
KMAZUR / WIREIMAGE
Not that Iman – whose full name is Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid – was even looking for love when she first met her future husband in 1990. (They would marry – both for the second time – two years later in a private ceremony in Lausanne, Switzerland.)
“I was not ready for a relationship,” Iman told the Guardian. “Definitely I didn’t want to get into a relationship with somebody like him.”
THE LIFE PICTURE COLLECTION / GETTY
But the attraction was instant and undeniable. Weeks before their 1992 wedding, Bowie gushed to PEOPLE about the “overwhelming beauty” of his bride-to-be, describing her as “a smoky blend of Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn.”
Iman, too, was smitten. She had already honored her fiancé by having a Bowie knife tattooed on her right ankle. “My life is good,” she told PEOPLE.
Some two decades later, in 2010, Iman described their relationship to Harper’s Bazaar as utterly complementary, and said their romance was as passionate as ever.
“David doesn’t fight,” she said. “He is English, so he just stays quiet. I’m the screamer. Then he always makes me laugh. It’s like cabaret. I keep him entertained, too. I still fancy him – totally! – after all these years.”
She added: “My father … taught me how to be a parent and gave me a positive connection with men because he is a gentleman. And that is what attracted me to David. He is a gentle soul.”
As as Bowie told PEOPLE in 2005, the couple had no problem keeping their romance alive. “Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation generally does the trick!” he said.
Iman says that her husband has become much more retiring over recent years.
“David is even more of a homebody than I am. At least I go to parties once in a while,” she told the Guardian.
“I also think there is nothing that he hasn’t seen. He’s been to all the parties that there are.”
While she made her name in fashion, Somali-born Iman hasn’t modelled for 24 years. She is now an impassioned charity campaigner and philanthropist and supports the Hawa Abdi Foundation, which aims to bring basic human rights to Somali people.
Last year, she joined forces with fellow campaigner Bethann Hardison to highlight racism in the fashion industry, shaming the brands that don’t regularly used black models on the catwalk.
“It sends a message that our girls are not beautiful enough,” she said, recalling a magazine editor, who once said she was beautiful and like a white woman “dipped in chocolate”.
“And she didn’t even realise it was insulting!” said Iman. “I said: ‘Don’t take credit for it. I don’t have a white drop in me.’”
The model earlier posted a tweet to say “the struggle is real, but so is God”, less than a day before the glam rock singer died.
Another post tweeted on 9 January said: “Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment before it becomes a memory.”