Liya Kebede Talks About Working with Jake Gyllenhaal on the Eternity Air Campaign
Liya Kebede has starred in countless fashion and beauty campaigns, from Louis Vuitton to L’Oréal, Estée Lauder to Escada. Although they’re all memorable, due in large part to her incredible natural beauty, few of the supermodel’s images became classics quite so instantly as the ones for Calvin Klein Eternity last year. The black and white photos and commercials recall the iconic Eternity ads that came before it, starkly passionate and yet tender enough to wholesomely convey the infinite love for a child — in this case, the fictional child of Kebede and Jake Gyllenhaal. And now, Kebede is continuing as the face of Eternity Air, the latest of several renderings of the original Eternity fragrance.
“Eternity is an iconic fragrance. I think we’ve all had it in our lives at some point or another. It has a nice memory that goes with it. I love that aspect of it,” Kebede tells Allure. “Eternity Air, to me, is very light and fresh, which I love as well, especially in the mornings. I can just have a nice start-of-the-day kind of thing — there’s a kind of perkiness. It’s quite feminine, but not too feminine, so I like that.” The perfectly balanced femininity Kebede discerns comes from a subtly fruity yet traditional floral impression, a cedarwood base, and “sky of the sky” accord — a note that may be a nod to a phrase in the e.e. cummings love poem Kebede and Gyllenhaal recite in the Eternity campaign video, “I Carry Your Heart with Me.”
Shooting with Gyllenhaal was just as memorable as Eternity and Eternity Air themselves. “It was really wonderful to work with him. He’s great, very hands-on, very involved,” Kebede say. “It’s always nice to work with people like that. He’s really lovely and he was really obviously committed to the work. It was a beautiful campaign.”
This isn’t Kebede’s first fragrance campaign, and her love of fragrance reaches far back to her childhood in Ethiopa, stemming from memories of her mother. When asked about her earliest recollections of perfume, Kebede told Allure, “I would say it was my mother’s perfume closet — she was obsessed with fragrance, I think. She had so many of them, and she would pick a fragrance daily according to her whim. I used to always just sit around next to her hoping that she’d spritz me with whatever whim she felt like that day.”
Although Kebede left Ethiopia after she completed school, she continues to show it love through Lemlem, a line of clothing and home goods made entirely by African artisans and driven by a commitment to grow jobs across its countries. And just as the Eternity pillar has broadened over the years, Kebede is looking to broaden Lemlem in its own way. “We’re looking at expansion in all aspects; we want to do bags and shoes, working with artisans and also just regular small factories and things like that. We are just wanting to really stay true to our ethos, which is the artisan, and always, always made in Africa.” She doesn’t see the work she has put into Lemlem as an expression of her own personal empowerment, however. “A lot of [founding a brand like Lemlem] is to be at the right place at the right time and being excited about what you see in front of you and thinking that maybe that you can do something to help.”
It seems the message of “I Carry Your Heart with Me,” that e.e. cummings poem that so naturally gels with the essence of Eternity and Eternity Air, can also very easily apply to Kebede’s love for and commitment to Africa. She has carried its heart in her heart wherever she has gone.