Throughout her seven years in fashion, model Imaan Hammam has racked up a holy-grail list of résumé highlights: making her début at Givenchy’s spring 2014 show, scoring prime real estate in major magazines, fronting a campaign for Chanel’s Les Beiges line, and signing a beauty contract with Revlon. But nothing has shaped her career quite like the first time she let her now-signature curls loose on the job.
“Stylists would straighten my hair because they didn’t know how to work with my texture,” says the half-Moroccan, half-Egyptian beauty of her early modeling days. “My hair was always damaged.” Finally, she’d just had enough. “I was like, ‘You know what? I’m going to go natural for this test shoot.’ And everyone was like, ‘Oh my god, Imaan, this is your look from now on … this is you!’ ”
VIDEO: Everybody's In! Say Hello to the People Who Make Up Our September Issue
Indeed, authenticity looks good on Hammam. The 21-year-old says that after years of feeling insecure about being “the girl with the different hair and skin color,” she’s never been more comfortable with herself. And now she wants to show other girls that it’s OK not to fit in too. “I’ve become a woman with a big platform,” she says. “And I want to use it to help those facing the same struggles I had.”
She’s also been gaining fans with what she calls her “boyish but a bit fierce and chic” street style (key pieces include a beloved vintage Dior blazer, an oversize Vetements hoodie, and a thrifted purse she bought for €10 in Portugal). It’s a downtown-cool look that goes straight from the runway-show circuit to her trendy new neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Since moving there this summer, Hammam admittedly hasn’t been home much (at the time of this interview, she is calling during a break on Day 2 of back-to-back shoots), but she has no immediate plans to cut back.
“I think the next chapter for me is to build my own brand as Imaan,” she says. “To just take this all to the next level.”
Stylist: Julia Von Boehm. Production: Louis2. Photographer: Vincent van de Wijngaard/Art + Commerce.
For more stories like this, pick up the September issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download Aug. 10.