Lightness of Being: Liya Kibede is the Face of Calvin Klein’s Eternity Air

Lightness of Being: Liya Kibede is the Face of Calvin Klein’s Eternity Air

With the launch of Eternity Air by Calvin Klein, V interviews multi-faceted talent Liya Kebede and gets her take on love, philanthropy, and virtue.

With the launch of Eternity Air by Calvin Klein, V interviews multi-faceted talent Liya Kebede and gets her take on love, philanthropy, and virtue.

Text: Stella Pak

The evolution of the Eternity fragrance narrative went from the love of a woman and man to the love for their child that lives independent of this union – breaking apart the visual traditions of love and marriage. How did you feel delivering a modern love message through Eternity by Calvin Klein?

I thought it was a really original concept and a very wonderful idea to talk about today, to represent a different story that maybe hasn’t been told a lot. I loved the way it was artistically executed in a sense that you couldn’t really tell if the family was together, not together, does it matter? Love is eternal and it keeps going.

What are your ideas of modern love?

I don’t know if it’s modern love. Love is love. I’m saying that because it’s one of those things… there’s that saying that “there’s nothing new under the sun and we’re just discovering the old as new”. It’s a bit like that. Love is eternal and it’s all in the way we experience it.

What is the evolution of Eternity Air from its original from the Eternity fragrance?

Eternity Air – like its name is quite airy in a way. It’s very light, it’s very fresh, and it’s very soft. There’s a pureness to it. It feels like sky.

Throughout your career, you’ve been an advocate for maternal healthcare in Africa. What was the moment that sparked the beginnings of your passion?

I started working on the philanthropic side about 10 years ago when I had my kids in New York. Coming from a country-like Ethiopia where women dying from childbirth is a very normal phenomenon, it just made sense to me to represent that crowd. I had the opportunity to become a Goodwill Ambassador. From there, we evolved to start our own foundation and work closely with organizations and do projects to make a difference. Now we’re evolving again and connecting it with Lemlem to connect all of our Lemlem customers to the work that we do in our foundation and to marry the two. At the same time, extend the opportunities to the communities we work with for Lemlem.

Since launching Lemlem, what are some of the social evolutions you’ve noticed in the communities?

I think working with the women was an incredible experience for them and for us. They’ve evolved with us. We’ve evolved with them. And found a path in the middle where we’re walking hand-in-hand in. I think that they have been really happy about learning about all the demands we ask of them, whether it’s the way we put clothes together or whether we’re working with shapes that they haven’t done before and us, being inspired by the craftsmanship that they know how to do. Finding that nice balance is incredible. We’ve grown quite a lot since we started. We have almost 200 people working now. Their lives have improved a lot. It’s helping bring back the weaving back in trend even locally, which I think is wonderful. And they gain the appreciation that they deserve for the work and skills that they have.

From modeling to advocacy and acting in the film – Desert Flower, that deals with genital mutilation of a Somalian woman, your commitment to pushing the narrative on women’s health is stronger and stronger. What can we expect next?

I guess there’s always going to be more. I think I’m working on expanding Lemlem right now. I finished Fashion Week in Paris, which was hectic and intense. We just launched Men’s for Lemlem as well, which is very exciting. We have a collaboration launching in June that I’m obsessed with so that will be here soon. So there’s a lot going on at Lemlem so that’s very satisfying as well as we continue to grow.

You seemed to have found the formula on how to merge different areas of your interest into your career. Any tips for those who are just starting to discover their passions and voice?

I think listening to your gut. Your gut will always show you the right way.

Who would you consider a hero?

I think there are a lot of heroes out there on different scales so it’s kind of hard to pick one. There are battles to be won everywhere. What you do for yourself or for others… there is heroism in all of us I think.

What is the greatest virtue that should last an Eternity?

Compassion.

UP NEXT

Bridgette Lundy-Paine Is Anything But Typical