Imaan Hammam is one of those models who’s truly impossible to miss in the fashion world. If you haven’t seen her walking in every major runway from Versace and Fendi, to Alexander McQueen and Tory Burch, you’ve seen her at the Met Gala or in street style galleries. She’s not only everywhere, she’s also easy to pick out of a crowd by her signature, beautiful curly head of hair.
Her ubiquity is also due to the fact that she’s been modeling for 10 years; in that time she’s grown and changed — as have her opportunities in the industry. When she first started modeling for Tory Burch, she remembers being gifted the brand’s first fragrance by the designer. “I was totally obsessed with it. It was my scent for years,” she says. Now, she’s a muse for Tory Burch’s new Essence of Dreams fragrance collection. “For me to be a face of Tory Burch now is just amazing. It brings back memories of when I was 16 and I was first living in New York by myself. I can just look back and see the growth of being an almost 26-year-old girl remembering just how much happened.”
To celebrate the new partnership with Tory Burch, NYLON caught up with Hammam to talk about all things fragrance, her cultural connection to beauty, and why she would like to have her own hair care line one day.
What is your earliest beauty memory?
I grew up in Amsterdam. My mom is Moroccan and Egyptian, and in both of those cultures scents are really important. If you think of the Arab world and north Africa, there's a lot of notes that come from there that mean a lot to me, like musk. We have this incense that I grew up with and my mom would do it every Friday — she would light up the incense and the house would just be full of smoke, but it would smell so good. That’s what I grew up with and what went with me when I went on my own beauty journey.
Do you have any other favorite scent memories?
When I moved to New York, I started doing fashion shows and that's how I got involved with Tory Burch. I had done a bunch of her shows and she would always give me a gift, and it was the Tory Burch fragrance. I was totally obsessed with it. It was my scent for years, so for me to be a face of Tory Burch now is just amazing. It brings back memories of when I was 16 and I was first living in New York by myself. I can just look back and see the growth of like being an almost 26-year-old girl remembering just how much happened.
What role would you say fragrance has in your life?
I think fragrance is very important in my life. The first thing I do in the morning is burn some incense to start my day with positive energy and good vibes — I took that from home. When it comes to wearing fragrance, it kind of depends on my mood. Which is why I think the Tory Burch Essence of Dreams collection is so great. It’s five different scents, so I can wake up and see how my mood is go along with it. There’s Electric Sky, there’s Sublime Rose. Divine Moon is definitely my favorite. It's kind of sweet, it has honey and citrus and when I put it on it's very calming. That’s a good start of the day for me.
What's the rest of your beauty routine like in the morning?
I’m really into skin care. In the morning I like to keep it light. Especially right now with summer in New York being so sweaty I prefer not to put on a lot of heavy skin care and makeup. I just take the time to wash my face, then I put on a really nice rose oil, and after that I put on a light SPF moisturizer. I might curl my lashes. I like to keep it very simple in the morning.
Do you think being a model and always having your hair and makeup done affects your everyday beauty routine?
I'm really into beauty and makeup, so when I’m on those shoots and working with all these amazing hair stylists and makeup artists, I'm always learning. But in my daily routine, sometimes I just feel like I don't want to put anything on my body or face right now. But then there's moments where I'm going for a full red lip because I feel spicy and I wanna look good, you know? I have one red from Maybelline I really like right now. So it really depends.
What’s the best tip or trick you’ve ever learned from an artist on set?
There’s definitely been some tips I’ve gotten from hairstylists because my hair journey has kind of been a roller coaster. In the beginning of my career my hair was always straight and it was super damaged. It was burned and I had bald spots and I just thought, “I can't believe I'm going through this.” When I decided I was going to wear my hair naturally, it was a big step for me. I remember at that time nobody was really owning their curls. Everyone was so surprised and amazed when I turned up to a casting with my big-ass curls.
Normally when I would walk into a room with my big hair, most of the hairstylists would just look at me kind of scared because they were just thinking, “Oh my God, I don't want her to sit in my seat.” But a couple hair stylists made me feel comfortable, and were there to help me care of my hair and not damage it. My really good friend, James Pecis, he really cares about the people that come and sit in his chair and their hair and their hair journey. James would bring wigs that looked exactly like my hair and he would put that on me to let my natural hair take a break which was just so amazing and thoughtful.
When did you make the decision to wear your hair naturally?
I would say 2017 was my major turnaround; 2016 was the craziest time. I did every show, I was going from here to there, doing five shows a day. And you know, they're doing five different makeup looks and five different hair looks that day. It was so intense. So that time, I was just done. I thought I'm gonna take care of my hair and put all these amazing oils on it and, and just let it grow and be healthy again.
Do you have a solid hair routine now?
I get this moisturizing treatment done once a month at this cool salon at the Pierre Hotel that has really helped my hair grow. It really hydrates my hair and makes my curls just really shiny and luscious. I just love oils. Coming from Morocco, I'm very lucky to come from there because it's such an amazing country and also there's so many amazing oils. I try to incorporate all of those kinds of things in my daily routine. I love using some pure Argan oil that I bought in there which really helps the scalp and hydrating the hair. But with products it's been an ongoing journey for me. Some things I'll use for like a month and my hair will look incredible and then the next thing I know it’ll stop working. I feel like there is a gap in that industry for curly hair care. It's tough to find the right product for my hair, which Is why maybe I should create my own.
Do you have a beauty or a life philosophy?
I would just say I try to remind myself every time I meet people that everyone has a different story and everyone has a different path of life. It’s about having a third eye and being able to look at things openly without judging people.
When I started modeling, I was such a young girl. I was super unsure of myself and very insecure — and I'm still insecure a lot of times. Nowadays with social media there's so much pressure of what to look like, it’s very superficial, so I just very simply try to stay away from that and not feel the pressure. I still struggle with it, but I think if you just embrace yourself and your body and your mind and soul, I think that gets you through.