How David Bowie met Iman: Matchmaker recalls night "lonely" star met his soulmate

15 August 2019, 17:39

David Bowie and Iman pictured in 1992, two years after they first met
David Bowie and Iman pictured in 1992, two years after they first met. Picture: Getty

By Giorgina Ramazzotti

The hairdresser who played matchmaker to David Bowie and supermodel wife Iman recalls how the superstar singer was plagued with loneliness before meeting his future soulmate.

It was towards the end of the '80's and David Bowie was at the height of his worldwide fame.

Yet his longterm friend and hairdresser, Teddy Antolin, recalls the star was living an increasingly solitary existence.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday People, Teddy, 68, said: “David was very lonely. It was so sad – all this hard work David did each day and then he was alone.”

David Bowie and Iman pictured at their first public appearance together just months after meeting in 1990, attending the Seventh on Sale AIDS Benefit on November 29 at the Armory in New York City
David Bowie and Iman pictured at their first public appearance together just months after meeting in 1990, attending the Seventh on Sale AIDS Benefit on November 29 at the Armory in New York City. Picture: Getty

Teddy, who was then introduced to supermodel Iman at a party in Los Angeles in 1990, said: “I didn’t want to speak to her at first.

"I thought it would be so cliché if I say ‘How beautiful you are’ but you end up doing that and we started talking and a light bulb went on.”

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Teddy's matchmaking wheels were set in motion and in he begged New York-based David to fly to LA specially for his birthday dinner party - and also asked an unsuspecting Iman to come as his guest.

Teddy said: “David arrived in a white Mustang sports car, wearing white jeans and a white jacket, all denim.

“Iman showed up in a black Mercedes wearing all black leather. And I thought, what could be more perfect.

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“The minute she walked in all the attention went to her, she just claimed the room.

“She had a big smile and her and David looked at each other and it was love at first sight, you could feel the electricity, something went off.

Iman and David Bowie pictured on January 01, 1990, just a few months before their Swiss wedding
Iman and David Bowie pictured on January 01, 1990, just a few months before their Swiss wedding. Picture: Getty

“They spent the night talking to each other like they had known each other forever. They were looking at each other like, ‘Now what, shall we skip dessert and go home?’

“There was no one else in their lives but those two from then on.”

Read more: Iman Posts Moving Tribute To David Bowie On Their 24th Wedding Anniversary

The couple quickly became engaged within months, but it was no way as straightforward as their first meeting. Iman supposedly turned David Bowie down at his first proposal, according to Teddy.

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Teddy said: “I asked her, ‘Are you going to marry him, has he asked you?’ and she said, ‘He’s asked…I said no!’

“I said, ‘What do you mean?’ and she said, ‘Well he’s not met my family, my mother and father and brothers, and I don’t know his mother’.”

Supermodel Iman with husband David Bowie at a Bulgari gala at the Orangerie at the Chateau de Versailles in 1995
Supermodel Iman with husband David Bowie at a Bulgari gala at the Orangerie at the Chateau de Versailles in 1995. Picture: Getty
David Bowie and Iman attend Eduard Nakhamkin Fine Arts Gallery Exhibit Opening on November 27, 1990 in New York City.
David Bowie and Iman attend Eduard Nakhamkin Fine Arts Gallery Exhibit Opening on November 27, 1990 in New York City. Picture: Getty

Teddy said: “Iman didn’t really turn him down but just didn’t want to say yes. She was like hold on we’ve got to meet some people first, you’re not just marrying me, you’re marrying my tribe, my family.”

A lovestruck David proposed again, and this time Iman said yes.

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“David took her out to the Adriatic Sea and ­proposed in the Bosphorus Strait on his yacht – so very romantic," Teddy recalls.

“He gave her this beautiful, I don’t know how many carats, like 15-carat ring, a beautiful star ­sapphire surrounded with diamonds.

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"And then she got a yellow canary diamond ring, so she had two engagement rings and the canary was like 14 carat and was stunning.

“He picked out the ­sapphire and they both picked the ­yellow diamond together.”

David Bowie and model Iman attend Sixth Annual American Cinematheque Awards on March 22, 1991 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California.
David Bowie and model Iman attend Sixth Annual American Cinematheque Awards on March 22, 1991 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, California. Picture: Getty
Model Iman and husband, David Bowie pictured in 2000
Model Iman and husband, David Bowie pictured in 2000. Picture: Getty

Iman was to later confirm that the Ziggy Stardust singer had gone on a treasure hunt to find one of the engagement rings he proposed to her with, tracking it down after she had pointed it out in a shop window in Florence years earlier.

The couple had a quiet formal marriage at Lausanne City Hall in Switzerland on April 24, 1992, followed up with a huge wedding in a Tuscan villa in Italy, on June 6 - with celebrity guests including fashion designer Valentino and John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono.

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Teddy, who was on hand to do both of the couple’s hair for the ceremony, remembers: “It was stunning. David was very happy, he never looked better, he was so sharp. He did make a speech and after dinner we went to dance.

David had put together a really great tape, disco and dance music and a few of his own but not too much. It was a fun party.”

Teddy said that Bowie's wife had a hugely positive effect on his life: “David managed to become ­sober when he met Iman," he said.

"He decided, ‘I met her, I’m changing my life, I’ve got to impress this woman and step up’ and he did.

Iman and David Bowie pictures in 2007 at the Food Bank of New York Can-Do Awards Dinner Honoring The Edge and Jimmy Fallon
Iman and David Bowie pictures in 2007 at the Food Bank of New York Can-Do Awards Dinner Honoring The Edge and Jimmy Fallon. Picture: Getty
David Bowie and supermodel Iman attend the DKMS' 5th Annual Gala: Linked Against Leukemia honoring Rihanna & Michael Clinton hosted by Katharina Harf at Cipriani Wall Street on April 28, 2011 in New York City.
David Bowie and supermodel Iman attend the DKMS' 5th Annual Gala: Linked Against Leukemia honoring Rihanna & Michael Clinton hosted by Katharina Harf at Cipriani Wall Street on April 28, 2011 in New York City. Picture: Getty

“He did everything to change any kind of bad habits he had and it was remarkable because David never had a drink after that or anything.”

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Ten years after meeting the couple had their daughter, Lexi, in 2000 and were very happily married until David Bowie's untimely death on January 10, 2016.

Since his death Iman - who was in a relationship with David for 26 years - has openly spoken of the heartbreak of losing her husband.

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“I will never remarry,” she told Porter Edit in October 2018.

“I do feel very lonely,” she admits. “But do I want a relationship? I can’t say never, but no, not now.”