Name: Liya Kebede
Born: March 1, 1978
Birthplace: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Measurements: 32″/ 23″/ 34″
Agencies: IMG New York, Viva Model Management Paris, d’management group Milan, IMG London, Viva Model Management Barcelona, Iconic Management Hamburg and IMG Australia.
Liya Kebede moved from her home in Ethiopia to Paris,France at the age of 18. She debuted a year later at the spring Ralph Lauren and BCBG Max Azria shows in New York. Kebede was personally selected by Tom Ford for an exclusive contract for the Gucci Fall/Winter 2000 fashion show. She gained mass amounts of attention when she landed the cover of the May 2002 edition of Vogue Paris. In 2003, she made history becoming the FIRST black model to represent world renowned cosmetic company Estée Lauder.
Recently, Kebede was asked to star in diamond jeweler De Beers’ “Moments in Light” campaign. The women that have been selected for this project are talented in many ways. One of the many things that makes Kebede so special is her work with the World Health Organization as a Goodwill Ambassador from 2005-2011. The portraits for this campaign are auctioned off, and the proceeds benefit Women for Women International. This organization provides aid to women in post-war countries. Portraits are taken by renowned photographer and project curator Mary McCartney. Kebede says that her “Moment in Light” is being a mother to her two children. That is a moment that she is most proud of.
This beautiful model has also connected her home country of Ethiopia with the fashion industry that she knows so well. Kebede started a clothing line called Lemlem, which she founded in 2007. After taking a trip back to her native country, she realized how many traditional weavers were out of work. If they were out of work, there was no money coming in, and the beauty of their work was not being appreciated. Lemlem is made of natural cotton, and in Amharic it means, “to bloom” or “to flourish”.
Kebede launched the The Liya Kebede Foundation in 2005. The mission of this foundation is to reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality and to improve the health and wellbeing of mothers and children in Africa. This is accomplished through advocacy, education, grant development and partnerships.
Liya Kebede was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2010.
“If nothing else, I want women to understand that they are powerful. If you look back at history, in almost every big moment, in every leap forward, you find ordinary women at the core. We have more ability to make changes in the world than we can imagine if we have the courage to try.”- Liya Kebede