WHO IS CHANEL IMAN?


Chanel Iman Robinson, known commonly today as simply Chanel Iman, is the youngest and most successful African-American High Fashion Model of her time. The Victoria’s Secret "Angel” is well-known for having positive energy and endless legs that have walked countless runways around the world. 

 

Early Life and Family

Chanel Iman was born December 1, 1990, in Atlanta, Georgia.  She is the daughter of  China Robinson - a half Korean, half African-American war baby  from Seoul who recently opened up her own Los Angeles fashion store called “The Red Bag Boutique” – and youngest of four.

Discovery

As a child, Chanel studied fashion magazines, striking poses in front of stuffed animals and throwing dress up parties with her friends. From the earliest moments of her modeling career, she had "it," and it showed. Following her 13th birthday in December 2003, Chanel's aunt brought her to several modeling agencies in the Los Angeles area. The reaction to her talent was immediate, and emphatic. In January 2004, after fielding dozens of offers, Chanel and her family decided to sign with the prestigious Ford Modeling Agency. Just a year and a half after signing, Chanel went on to win third place in Ford's "Supermodel of the World" contest. Although they didn’t know it at the time, the modeling world would never be the same.

"A Model from Day 1" wrote Eric Wilson, featuring Chanel in the New York Times. That was the first of many articles that followed her career foreshadowing pieces in the Los Angeles Times (Image), the New York Post (Page Six) and TIME magazine (where she was featured on the cover of Style and Design).

 

Professional Work

Chanel's first season and debut as a runway model took off in 2006 like no one could have expected. Designers and major fashion houses from New York, London, Milan, and Paris put her in their A List  lineups, from High Fashion to Haute Couture. Designers included Marc Jacobs, Ana Sui, Phillp Lim, and Valentino. This amazing beginning was soon followed by additional seasons that would brand her name into an icon. Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, John Galliano, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Hermes, Jean Paul Gaultier, Alexander Mc Queen, Ralph Lauren, Micheal Kors, Oscar De La Renta, and Givenchy are among some of the fashion houses that dressed her for her shows each season. In Spring 2009, Chanel was the first Black model in 8 years to walk for Gucci – a lapse that had existed since the take over of Gucci by designer Frida Giannini.

At a Philip Lim show in 2007, Chanel caught the attention of Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of Vogue magazine. That same year, the legendary Wintour selected Chanel as one of 10 girls to be featured on the May 2007 cover of Vogue, naming her as one of the "world's next top models.” She was the youngest (at age 16) to ever grace the cover of Vogue and though there had been several black Vogue models before, Chanel was only the third to have ever graced the cover. 

Since then, Chanel Iman  has done Cover shoots for magazines all over the world, including Teen Vogue (twice), TIME, i-D, Muse ,POP, Lula, Elle (UK)(Italy), Flare (Italy)(Canada) and Vogue (Korea) just to name a few. Her editorials are almost unnumbered, including American Vogue, Italian Vogue, Allure, Harper’s Bazaar, Interview, V and many more.

Chanel has been photographed by some of the top photographers in the world: Steven Meisel, Steven Klein, Annie Leibowitz, Peter Lindbergh, Patrick Demarchelier, Mark Seliger, Tom Munro, Norman Jean Roy, David Sims,Kayt Jones, Emma Summerton, Will Davidson, Hans Feurer and many more well-known and respected artists. Chanel has even said that one of the greatest joys of her job is "working with amazing and gifted photographers." 

For the past four years from 2006-2010, campaigns have emerged with designers and advertisers seeking to book Chanel. From Bottega Veneta, Ralph Lauren, Diane Von Furstenberg and  Dsquared2 to her most recent placement in every running Victoria’s Secret campaign.

She also has been seen as a bombshell "Angel" on numerous commercials aired by Victoria’s Secret, including a holiday segment directed by Michael Bay. Chanel officially received her wings in November 2010 during her second in New York City’s Victoria’s Secret Runway Show. 

As an advocate for diversity on the runways, Chanel has paved the way for a host of newcomers. Her dream is for advertisers to see the value in booking "color." In many interviews Chanel is asked to give beauty tips and how to's ... but when asked what makes someone beautiful her answer is "spirit, confidence and a positive attitude…Being attractive is not about how much make up you wear or how fly you think you have to look. To me being attractive is about glowing; being happy from within because you are free to be yourself. On the runway I put on many faces and wear fashions that are as far from my personality as you can get, but I try to put a little bit of myself  in my walk and in my attitude so that I not only sell the collection, but also sell myself as a confident and attractive woman."

When asked “What do you do to prepare yourself before going out on the runway?” Her answer is simply: "I pray and thank God for all of my blessings."

 

 Charity Work

Chanel Iman considers it very important to give back to the community, and has been involved in significant charity work over the years. These charities primarily include local organizations in her community and hometown of Los Angeles. The HerShe Group Foundation, which mentors teen girls in foster care as they transition into society, is one that Chanel feels is closest to her heart. Chanel has also donated school supplies and clothing to her mom’s church, Arise Christian Center. In 2011, Chanel became one of a handful of celebrity faces attached to USAID and Ad Council’s FWD campaign, an awareness push to combat the famine, war, and drought in the Horn of Africa. Chanel joined Uma ThurmanGeena Davis, and Josh Hartnett to star in YouTube videos that ask America to “FWD the facts” about the crisis affecting more than 13 million people.


What's Next?

Now signed with IMG, Chanel is still excited about modeling, clothes and design, swapping roles like "business owner," "supermodel" and "entrepreneur" as quickly as she changes outfits for the runway. Where will she go now? Only Chanel knows what's coming next in her amazing life.

Covers
  • Vogue  (U.S)- May 2007
  • Teen Vogue - February 2008
  • Teen Vogue -  July 2008
  • Time - 2008
  • Pop (U.K.) - Autumn/Winter 2008
  • Vogue (Korea) - September 2008
  • Muse (Italy) - October 2008
  • Wish (Brazil) - January 2009
  • Flair (Italy) - February 2009
  • I-D (U.K.) - May 2009
  • I-D (U.K) - September 2009
  • Elle (U.K)- February 2011
  • Elle (U.S) -October 2011
  • WSJ-  December 2011
  • L'OFFICIAL (Paris) - February  2012 
Ad Campaigns
  • Bottega Vcneta
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Diane Von Furstenbcrg
  • Dsquared2
  • Victoria Secret

Victoria's Secret

chanel iman

"…Being attractive is not about how much make up you wear or how fly you think you have to look. To me being attractive is about glowing; being happy from within because you are free to be yourself. On the runway I put on many faces and wear fashions that are as far from my personality as you can get, but I try to put a little bit of myself  in my walk and in my attitude so that I not only sell the collection, but also sell myself as a confident and attractive woman."