Liya Kebede – Model, Actress, Designer and Maternal Health Advocate
Liya Kebede rose to fame during the height of her modeling career, walking runways for Balenciaga and Christian Dior collections and appearing on numerous Vogue covers. However, her true impact came through her World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador duties and founding clothing line lemlem.
As a CFDA member, she collaborates with artisan studios to produce her line and manage its foundation, while advocating maternal health and gender equality as an activist.
Early Life and Education
Liya Kebede is an esteemed fashion icon who has graced the pages of American, Italian and French Vogue magazines as well as leading print campaigns for companies like Gap, Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint-Laurent, Tommy Hilfiger and Victoria’s Secret. Additionally she has established The Liya Kebede Foundation to increase access to maternal healthcare in Ethiopia.
Kebede credits her father with instilling strong work ethics and an appreciation of education in her. Fluent in both English and French, Kebede originally desired a career in journalism or teaching before embarking on modeling career. Kebede began modeling professionally in Paris for Ralph Lauren and BCBG Max Azria before moving on to New York.
Kebede has become an accomplished model, actress and fashion designer over her two decade long modeling career based in New York City.
Model and actress Waris Dirie has also worked on various film projects. She starred in both crime drama Lord of War and spy film The Good Shepherd as well as being cast as lead in Desert Flower, an adaptation of her best-selling memoir about female genital mutilation activist Waris Dirie’s memoir from 2009.
Liya Kebede married hedge fund manager Kassy in 2000 and has two children: son Suhul and daughter Raee. The family lives in Carnegie Hill. Kassy runs Panton Capital Group, an investment fund specialising in credit arbitrage; Liya herself serves on Deutsche Bank’s Global Markets division’s Board.
Achievement and Honors
Kebede has achieved tremendous success throughout her career as a model, actress, designer and maternal health advocate. She has graced multiple fashion magazine covers while receiving various awards and honors for her efforts.
She has an unwavering commitment to sustainable fashion and regularly collaborates with eco-friendly brands. Furthermore, she advocates for diversity within fashion.
Kebede’s charitable work has been honored with numerous awards and distinctions, most recently when she was chosen Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year 2013.
Kebede holds two children with her husband Kassy, a hedge fund manager. Their son Suhul was born in 2000 while their daughter Raee arrived later. Both reside in New York City.
Model and philanthropist, this model has served as an ambassador for the World Health Organization and launched her own foundation to promote maternal health. She remains strongly attached to Ethiopia, making every opportunity she can to promote its rich cultural history and preserve it for future generations. In addition to these charitable contributions and commitments, this woman also appears in movies such as Lord of War and Desert Flower as an actress.
Liya Kebede married Kassy in 2000 and together they had two children: Suhul and Raee. However, after separation in 2013 and an official divorce decree issued in 2015, Kassy took his talents elsewhere – working at Panton Capital Group’s credit strategies hedge fund before serving as senior derivatives trader for Merrill Lynch and global head of equity derivatives business at Deutsche Bank respectively.
Outside her modeling and acting careers, Lemlem also runs her own clothing line. Additionally, she has participated in various philanthropic efforts and invested in real estate properties.
Born March 1 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on March 1, 1978, Waris Dirie was discovered at age 18 by a French film director and quickly rose to fame as a high fashion model after signing with IMG Models in New York City. She appeared in advertisements for Shiatzy Chen, Gap, Yves Saint-Laurent, Tommy Hilfiger Emanuel Ungaro Victoria’s Secret among others before transitioning into acting, appearing in numerous films including Lord of War The Good Shepherd Desert Flower which were all based off Waris Dirie’s autobiography focused on her activism against female genital mutilation (shortly known by her nickname “Wiki”)