Mar 01, 2013
More to Kimora
Fabulous might be her middle name, but the STL-bred fashion celeb proves her passions run more than just skin-deep.
Story: Jennifer Wells
Photos: Chris Haston/STYLE Network
There's a reason the word "fabulous" has made its way into nearly every aspect of model-turned-fashion-world-celeb Kimora Lee Simmons' life. Various versions of the word have landed on the cover of her book, "Fabulosity: What It Is and How to Get It," in the title of her new STYLE Network reality show, "Kimora: House of Fab," as well as in her day job at JustFab, where she serves as both creative director and president of the booming online enterprise. For some, staking claim to such a glamorous, over-thetop word might seem a tad ostentatious—maybe even a little egotistical—but Simmons has earned the right.
Born of humble beginnings in St. Louis, she is arguably one of the ultimate Cinderella stories in the fashion world. Although she was taunted as a child for her multicultural background and statuesque height, Simmons' unique beauty was not ignored by the fashion world. She was swept away to Paris at the young age of 13 to model, was awarded a contract with Chanel, and quickly became the muse of famed designer Karl Lagerfeld. Since then, Simmons has led many lives—from her illustrious marriage to mogul Russell Simmons to her now pop-culture-icon status as a reality TV star, among other roles such as designer, mogul and mother—not to mention author, philanthropist and perfumer. Her fabulous face, name and designs are everywhere—even on her signature zebra print prepaid VISA credit card, The KLS RushCard. Consistently driven to empower women—as evidenced in her book, and a goal she readily admits for her new show—it seems Simmons has traded in her shopping bags for a higher purpose. But never fear: True to her nature, she will undoubtedly still be stiletto-clad and dressed to the nines while rallying for women everywhere.
ALIVE: Professionally, you wear a lot of hats; which one brings you the most satisfaction?
Kimora Lee Simmons: Being a model is obviously something close to my heart since that's where I started. I've done that since I was probably 10 years old in St. Louis. Being a designer is also something that's very close to my heart, because I love to create and be a part of the landscape of fashion and help women and men get dressed every day and feel better about themselves. I don't know—they're all good!
ALIVE: Tell us about your new show on the STYLE Network, "Kimora: House of Fab."
KS: It's about my business at JustFab. I'm the president and creative director, so it's really about the quirky ins and outs of the office and my team, and seeing what it takes day in and day out to build a brand. A lot of people are interested in different levels of fashion—not just being a model or a designer, but starting a business, creating stores and building a dot-com. So, I think this is going to show them a lot of different aspects of that business.
ALIVE: Your new skincare line Shinto Clinical is getting a lot of attention. What made you decide to get into the beauty industry?
KS: I think it's just timing and where I am in my life. This is an anti-aging skincare line that is about my story; it's a multicultural skincare line. All of the ingredients are natural ingredients [with] Asian botanicals, so it's a combination of East meets West. At my age, I'm a mother and I wear a lot of hats, but I want to look beautiful and maintain the same elasticity and have the same glow. I realized a lot of women were at that same place. We're at that age where we're beautiful, we're sexy, we want to maintain it and keep it up— but we're not 20 anymore.
ALIVE: You have a pretty luxe lifestyle. Is it true you have the world's largest collection of Louis Vuitton?
KS: Well, it probably depends on when and where you're counting! I wouldn't know; I don't keep track of things like that. Look at the business that I'm in at JustFab—I certainly value creating a great quality style of high fashion-looking product for a fraction of the cost.
ALIVE: So, in terms of shopping, what still excites you?
KS: I'm actually the opposite in that way; I'm a recovering shopaholic. So, I try not to go too crazy, and I'm very busy with my children and work. I go through all of my wardrobe with a stylist and try to stay out of the actual shopping. That's what I preach to my young ladies and gentlemen: It can overcome you.
ALIVE: Empowering women seems to be a theme for you—both in your book and in your businesses. In today's cat fight-happy society, what makes you go against the grain?
KS: When you asked me, "What's your favorite hat?" I should have said writing the book because I feel like I can reach people [that way]. People come to me and tell me their story and say, "Because of you, I got out of an abusive relationship," or, "I was really able to change my life." So that's why the author part is my favorite hat. I don't get into [cat fighting], and I've never been known for that. It's funny, because I'm known for a lot of things—everyone gets their little labels—but that's not one of them. I've tried to go about things a little more conventionally; I guess it's part of my upbringing. I'm from the Midwest, and we do things a little bit differently. I really don't need to come hoot'n and holler'n, and I don't need someone to do that to me. I try to carry myself with respect and dignity. That's what I talk about in my book, and that's what I try to reflect when you're watching my show. Yes, it's fun, yes, it's off-the-cuff, and yes, there are moments that are really hilarious, but I try to keep it on a higher note. I try to live a life that's something that I can use to teach my children. I think for a lot of people, it's kind of like selling your soul to the devil; they'll do anything for those few seconds of fame. I've been in this business almost 10 years—of just TV alone—and I hope that I'm a living example that you can do it another way, too.
ALIVE: Your kids are really growing up. What qualities do you hope they get from you? KS: My oldest is now 13, that's Ming. My middle daughter is 10, and little Kenzo is 3. I try to teach my kids a little bit about tolerance, acceptance and self-esteem, and definitely self-confidence, selfrespect and how to carry themselves in the world. If you have self-respect, I think you'll respect others around you, and you will command that others respect you.
ALIVE: Do you ever have downtime? What do you like to do with it?
KS: I love to travel all over the world. I'm always working on my passport. I think that's just something that has been in me since I was a child. I also love spending time with my kids and just having fun with them.
ALIVE: Is there anything else you would like to say to the ALIVE readers?
KS: Yes, tell everyone thank you and I love them, and that I said "hi!" I get back there every now and again since I have family there, so tell everyone thanks for the support and I love them! Also, follow me @officialkimora; that's my Instagram as well. And watch my new show, "Kimora: House of Fab!"
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