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Liya Kebede

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Status: Single
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Biography

Liya Kebede (born January 3, 1978, in Addis Ababa) is an Ethiopian supermodel who has appeared on the cover of US Vogue twice. According to Forbes, Liya was eleventh-highest-paid top model in 2007.

Liya was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A film director spotted Liya while she was attending Lycee Guebre Mariam and introduced her to a French modeling agent. After completing her studies, she moved to France to pursue work through a Parisian agency. Liya later relocated to New York City. She has remarked that the modeling industry in Ethiopia is quite different from the catwalks on which she is now ubiquitous. In contrast, in Ethiopia she had to provide her own shoes for each runway show.

Liya married Ethiopian hedge fund manager Kassy Kebede in 2000 and they have two children together; son Suhul (b 2001) and daughter Raee (b August 2005). As of 2007, the family resides in New York City.

Her big break came when Tom Ford asked her for an exclusive contract for his Gucci Fall/Winter 2000 fashion show. Liya established a place in fashion's elite by modeling on the New York, Milan and Paris runway circuit.

She has been seen on the covers of Italian, Japanese, American, French and Spanish Vogue, V, Flair, i-D and Time's Style & Design. Liya has been featured in ad campaigns including those for Gap, Yves Saint-Laurent, Victoria's Secret, Emanuel Ungaro, Tommy Hilfiger, Revlon, Dolce & Gabbana, Escada and Louis Vuitton. In 2003, Liya was named the newest face of Estée Lauder cosmetics, the first person of color to serve as their representative in the company's 57-year history. Her contract was rumoured to be for $3 million dollars.

She is one of a very few ethnically African models featured in major fashion photo shoots and runway shows. According to Conor Kennedy, in 2003 a booker at Elite Model Management, "It's like there's only room for one very successful black model at a time. For the past year it's been Liya."

In 2005, Liya was appointed as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. She also appeared in a group montage on a rare (well rare as of recent years) group montage of up and coming supermodels.

In summer of 2006 she was also one of the very few black models to have been given a cover of American Vogue, the issue highlighted her humanitarian work.

In July 2007, earning at an estimated total of $2.5 million in the past 12 months, Forbes named her eleventh in the list of the World's 15 Top-Earning Supermodels.



 


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