Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Giving back to Mother Africa

Liya Kebede is a stunning 32 year old Ethiopian model who was discovered by a French film director in her hometown Addis Ababa.
Liya’s big break came when when Tom Ford asked her for an exclusive contract for his Gucci Fall/Winter 2000 fashion show. Kebede's popularity in the fashion industry sky-rocketed when she appeared on the cover the May 2002 edition of Paris Vogue which dedicated the entire issue to her.

I have been a huge fan of Liya ever since i saw her working the run ways of new york and Milan fashion week on Fashion Tv. And i have been following her career ever since.

In 2003, Kebede was named the newest face of Estée Lauder cosmetics, the first Ethiopian to serve as their representative in the company's 57-year history. Her contract was rumored to be for $3 million dollars .
In 2009, Kebede starred in the film-adaption of the bestselling autobiography Desert Flower by former supermodel Waris Dirie. The film recounts Dirie's childhood in Somalia, her rise to stardom and subsequent awareness campaign against female circumcision. It premiered at the Venice Film Festival and received a standing ovation. Kebede has also had minor roles in two films: The Good Shepherd and Lord of War.[12]

In 2005, Kebede was appointed WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. She then founded the Liya Kebede Foundation, whose mission is to reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality in Ethiopia and around the world. The Foundation funds advocacy and awareness raising projects as well as providing direct support for low-cost technologies, community-based education, and training and medical programs.
In 2007 Liya started her own clothing line called Lemlem as a way to inspire economic independence in her native country and to preserve the art of weaving.
She makes all her designs back in Ethiopia that way she employs’ local weavers.
Lemlem meaning "to bloom or flourish" in Amharic produces beautiful hand-woven shawls in fresh white cotton with ethnic-influenced embroidery. New York's most fashionable have fallen for her super-versatile pieces which as Kebede explains "can be knotted into a scarf, worn as a sarong at the beach, or quickly tied into a bag", and are the easy-chic way to add a tribal twist to every ensemble.
I am very proud to see someone actually going back to their roots and helping the community and supporting local talent. I wish more of us Ethiopians living abroad could try and start something positive back home to help the economy and create more jobs.