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6 Fashion Trailblazers

Kebede’s new Lemlem scarves.

Photo: Lars Klove

Liya Kebede: Model

Liya Kebede isn’t just another pretty face. The Ethiopian-born mother of two, who lives in New York City, is a goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organization, and through her foundation (theliyakebedefoundation.org) she advocates for women’s and infants’ health issues in the developing world. Kebede also recently launched a children’s clothing line—made in Ethiopia, to benefit her countrymen—called Lemlem (flourish in Amharic). This fall she’s extending Lemlem’s mission by introducing a line of soft cotton scarves, woven by hand in Addis Ababa. “These traditional looms usually occupy a one-room shack and the weavers, all men, sleep on a platform above it,” she explains. “I wanted to open a market for them to showcase their beautiful talent and the way they do things, like drying thread between two tree trunks.” —Shane Mitchell

Kebede’s Africa

  • Gonder, Ethiopia “When I go back to Ethiopia, I try to go out into the countryside. I didn’t do so while growing up in Addis Ababa. Gonder is one of my favorite places, with an incredible castle where the king used to live.”
  • Dakar, Senegal “I went to Senegal for an AIDS conference and was shocked that it only took six hours to get there from New York City. Dakar is the perfect combination of traditional and modern, and it has great beaches on the Cape Verde peninsula.”
  • Essakane, Mali “There’s a magical event here, Festival au Desert (festival-au-desert.org). During the day you nap in tents and traders set up a village market. You spend all night jumping up and down to live music.”

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