TheGrio’s 100: Chanel Iman, Victoria’s Secret angel earns her wings (VIDEO)

TheGrio's 100 - This high-fashion model has turned heads walking runways for major fashion houses...

High-fashion model and Victoria’s Secret “angel” Chanel Iman has turned heads walking runways for every major fashion house — Dior, Alexander McQueen, and Versace, to name a few — and on the cover of magazines such as Vogue. Iman’s latest endeavor is The Red Bag, a Culver City, Calif. boutique where the fashionista-turned-entrepreneur sells designer and vintage pieces. The supermodel opened the store with her mother.


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VIDEO produced & edited by Todd Johnson
VIDEO shot by Todd Johnson & Alex Presha>

Chanel Iman is making history … as a fresh face in an industry that is still largely homogenous. Following in the footsteps of models like Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks — whom she counts as a close friend — the Korean/African-American beauty has made the fashion rounds since signing with Ford Models at the age of 12, posing for heavyweight photographers and even double-cheek kissing Vogue’s aloof editor, Anna Wintour, who named Iman one of 2007’s top supermodels.

Click here to view a slideshow of iconic black models of the past and present

Iman’s career has since taken off and she received Victoria’s Secret’s coveted ‘angel wings’ in 2010. And just last year, Iman partnered with her mother, China Robinson, to open The Red Bag Boutique, bringing Los Angeles to Culver City with handpicked second-hand designer pieces and fun vintage fare — with some one-of-a-kind hand-me-downs from her own closet!

What’s next for Chanel?

Iman recently switched modeling agencies to IMG, which has housed a number of past and present Victoria’s Secret angels, and she has big plans for 2011 — starting off with NYC’s Spring Fashion Week at Lincoln Center in February.

In her own words …

“It’s not just black girls. It’s ethnic girls in general: Brazilian girls, Hispanic. You really don’t see a lot of Asians either,” Iman told the New York Post in 2009 about her frustrations with the industry. “A lot of designers think that if every girl on the runway looks exactly alike, then people will come to the shows and buy the clothes because they won’t be focusing on the models. So they’re scared to use ethnic girls from all over the world because people would focus on [the models] — ‘Oh my god, she’s so beautiful. Look at her face!’ — and not on the clothes.”

A little-known fact …

In July 2008, Iman participated in Vogue Italia’s historic “All Black” issue, which featured only black models — sparking conversation about model diversity in a decidedly monochromatic industry. In 2010’s Spring Fashion Week, only 16 percent of models were non-white, with three designers sending all-white casts down the runway. While this is seen as strides from 2007’s notoriously nearly-all-white Spring Fashion Week, the 20-year-old model is still fighting the current in her career.

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