Iman Plays Goddess in Mary McFadden Creations

Forget about Xena: Iman was the original warrior princess in this 1977 Vogue photo. The supermodel is covered (barely) in creations by ­American-born designer Mary McFadden—from her hair, which is adorned with an 18k gold-dipped brass leaf, to her necklace of embroidered and macramé rope and tassels, threaded with gold, coral, and celadon enamel beads. McFadden is often described as a “design archaeologist” because of her extensive study of the art and artifacts of ancient Greek and Byzantine cultures and the ways she connected them with the traditions of faraway lands such as China and South America. From the 1970s through the 1990s, her exotic, detailed pieces made her an internationally renowned designer of women’s wear and accessories. “Jewelry is an integral part of McFadden’s pantheon of artistic creations,” explains Lorie Mertes, curator of the 2008 traveling exhibition Mary McFadden: Goddesses. “She designed for the adornment of the feminine form.” And she wasn’t creating those elaborate concoctions just for photo shoots and runway shows, says Mertes: “McFadden herself owns and wears designs from her many collections. She is a true style goddess.”