The struggle in the Ethiopian modeling business

Ethiopian women have been categorized as among the most beautiful women in Africa.

They have a perfect balance of darker South and West Africa and whiter Caucasian and have perfect facial features, skin tone, and bone structure. However, only a handful have gained international acclaim in fashion capitals like Paris, Milan and New York while the majority struggle to make it in the pugnacious industry, writes Tibebeselassie Tigabu.

Liya Kebede (Photo: fullknightdany)
Liya Kebede (Photo: fullknightdany)

In a predominantly white fashion industry, the coming of Liya Kebede changed the game when she became the first woman of color to be named the new face of Estee Lauder cosmetics in a multimillion-dollar contract in 2003.

It was the first of its kind in the 57-year history of the Estee Lauder brand. According to the July 2007 Forbes report, she was the 11th highest paid supermodel in the world.

Liya’s biggest break came in 2000 when Tom Ford hired her for his fall Gucci line. The world took notice when she was on the cover of the May 2002 issue of  Vogue Paris, which was dedicated to her in its entirety.

She has also been featured in numerous various fashion magazines including Flair, Time’s Style & Design, and V. She did ads for the multi-national famous lines such as Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, Victoria’s Secret, and Louis Vuitton.

Described as incredibly soft-spoken and elegant, Liya  paved a way for other colored models to join this exclusive business. Other Ethiopians have also shined on the world stage. For instance, model Gelila Bekele, is featured in a number of prints ad campaigns including ads for Levi’s, Pantene, Colgate, L’oreal; Anna Getaneh appeared on Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel and Christian Dior; Lydia Asghedom appeared in many famous runway fashion shows and was featured in ads for Michael Kors, AT&T and Macy’s; and in addition to one of the tallest model’s, Maya Haile and German-based model, Sara Nuru, are all glamorous Ethiopian models shinning in famous fashion weeks.

Read more at: The Reporter