Domestic Goddess

updated 10/10/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/10/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

A September evening, New York City: Iman is dressing for a night out when 5-year-old Alexandria, her daughter with husband David Bowie, bursts into the bedroom. Lexi, as they call her, has just seen a fashion show on TV and is eager to give her mother some advice. "Mommy," she says, demonstrating the swivel of a model sashaying down the runway, "when you go out tonight and you walk, you have to cross your legs [one in front of the other]!"

Lexi doesn't know that Mommy mastered that move decades ago—because Mommy never told her. An instant sensation in the mid-'70s as the face of Halston, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, Iman left the catwalk in 1989. Since then the Somali supermodel emeritus—who married Bowie in 1992—has launched two cosmetic and skin-care lines, Iman and the more expensive I-Iman. (Her daughter Zulekha, 27, from a marriage to former L.A. Laker Spencer Haywood, is an account executive at the company.) And this month she will release her second book, The Beauty of Color.

The how-to guide, like her products, is "for all women with skin of color," says Iman, now 50, who even at the height of her fame was expected to provide makeup artists with her own foundation to match her skin at shoots. "This book is really about helping celebrate our own ethnicity."

Plenty of celebs agreed to be photographed for the book, including Salma Hayek, Venus and Serena Williams and Naomi Campbell. "Iman is the epitome of elegance," says Campbell, a pal. "I have learned everything from her." Says Eva Mendes, who also posed: "She's inspired me tremendously. And I respect that she manages to keep her private life private."

That she does, but Mrs. David Jones—as she calls herself, using Bowie's given name—is willing to give a glimpse of what she insists is an average household. "We are very normal," she says. "I take Lexi to school and to her lessons." The family's apartment is often filled with noise from Lexi jamming with her dad on the piano, playing African drums or practicing tap. ("She is going to destroy the floor," says her mom.) And Iman cooks dinner every night, even if it means whipping up a shepherd's pie, as she did recently, in a gown and heels before a solo evening out. "I still have to feed my husband," she says.

She remains stunningly model-slender, but like most moms, she eats what her family eats. "I would never go on a diet," she says. "I am from Africa. I am just not programmed that way." Still, she adds, it hasn't been easy staying trim after giving birth at 45, so she heads to a no-frills boxing gym three days a week to spar and jump rope. On most days she also goes to the office to do everything from meet with buyers to review ads. "She's uncanny," says Bowie, "at keeping the business at her office and the woman at home. But she's a mom 24/7." The couple have no trouble keeping romance alive, he says: "Mouth to mouth resuscitation generally does the trick!"

As for that night in September, Iman was going to her first fashion show in 16 years, Naomi Campbell's benefit for Katrina. It was fun for an evening, but she doesn't miss that world. "It is a circus," she says, laughing. "That's why it is set up in tents."

Ericka Sóuter in New York City

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