Liya Kebede

WORKING GIRL: “We should all be on strike, but we’re all here working,” quipped Liya Kebede during a Q&A session at the launch of a spring campaign by Amazon Fashion for the European market — dubbed #LookLikeYou — that she fronts. Held at Le Meurice in Paris on Wednesday, the event coincided with International Women’s Day.

“We’re all such overachievers.…I’m inspired by all the women around me juggling families, relationships and work life. I don’t know if we appreciate ourselves and each other enough, and talk about it enough,” said the model and designer, who also addressed the topic of fashion and politics.

“I’m really happy that we are an industry where people really take a stand on things. I guess in a way fashion has always been aware of what’s going on around the world, and always says something and speaks up. I did the Calvin Klein show in New York, and that was really powerful, with David Bowie’s music, and everything that’s going on in America. These are tricky times.”

When asked about issues surrounding the model scene, including recent reports of models being mistreated, she demurred: “It’s been great over the past two seasons to see fashion being more inclusive in terms of shape, size, color. I’m hoping that it stays and becomes the norm.”

As for the Amazon Fashion campaign, which plays on the message that style is open to all, encouraging people to embrace their individuality, she said: “I really liked the whole ‘don’t look like me, look like you,’ angle. I feel like society is going in that direction, and I embrace that.” She described her own style as: “Comfy, casual, cool. I like mixing things, I like men’s wear and oversized.”

Ethiopia-born Kebede, whose own label Lemlem — based on pieces handmade in Ethiopia, working with local artisans — will be added to the Amazon Fashion site from April, also talked about the potential of Africa for the fashion industry. “It’s also about changing the image of Africa, and what comes out of Africa, and being maybe a brand that gives ideas to other brands to come and produce things there….I really believe it’s the next place things are going to come out of.”

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