Whether you know her from her modeling days at Chanel, her Baby Phat years, or as the designer behind KLS, Kimora Lee Simmons has certainly made her mark on fashion. She reminisces and discusses what she’s working on now!
Kimora, what’s new this season?
My Fall ’17 presentation was one of the best ones yet. The theme was [the late Italian heiress] Marchesa Casati. To me, she represents an artist’s muse. She was wonderfully alluring and beautiful, but not in the traditional sense. That seemed to resonate with a lot of people. There are many different standards of beauty and elegance, and I want people to know that.
Tell us more about the collection!
There are laser-cut pieces, midnight velvet, feathered details, and a bouclé jacket with laser-cut rabbit fur pockets. All my pieces have juxtaposition, because I feel you can be super sexy and alluring without being super naked. A lot of the hemlines are below or to the knee; some silhouettes are loose, and some are more fitted. We have some shorter pieces, but they’re not tight. At this stage in my life, I’m a mom and a businesswoman and fashion person. I create these clothes and I wear them, too, and I want to show that what’s alluring sexually doesn’t have to be so overt.
Who is your customer?
She’s a timeless, elegant, classy lady who is sexy, but not in a tacky kind of way. Nowadays, you see girls hanging out of their bikinis—everything is see-through in a gaudy way. I wanted to show the other side, with a little elegance, class, and allure. My dresses sell from $800 to $1,000, and I think that resonates well with my customers.
What’s different about this line versus your previous ones?
I feel like I’ve grown up. I’ve been doing this for twentysomething years; I’ve been on the runway since I was 12. I started with couture at Chanel, then Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. At that time, everything from sketching to designing to fitting was done in-house. The clothes were made on me, and I was on the runway. Now, you can be a fit model but never make it out to the runway. Back then, it was a position of honor. I was with Karl [Lagerfeld] day in and day out for many years. In my heart, I am more of a couture girl. I am used to the drama—the flourish of the fabric, the beading, the handwork.
Who in the industry do you keep in touch with?
Every once in a while, I see different models around, like Naomi [Campbell], and I see Karl once in a while. I don’t go to the collections as much. I was just talking to André Leon Talley the other day, who’s really good friends with my kids’ dad, Russell [Simmons]. I recently saw Amber Valletta, Kelly Rowland, and Ciara.
How many kids do you have?
Four! Just for the record—because everyone is asking if I’m having another baby—I want another baby, but I am not pregnant. I’m just a little chubby. [Laughs] That’s the allure of being a woman! You can have a baby and still be a little thick. You don’t have to go back to being a size 2. Give yourself time, be a little bit forgiving, and love yourself.
How many different companies have you worked on over the years?
I’ve had many collections—Couture by Kimora, KLS Kimora, Fabulosity, Baby Phat, Phat Farm—so I’ve done fashion at all levels. In the Baby Phat days, we were the pioneers in a lot of ways. For example, I was the first to show at Radio City Music Hall. There had never been a fashion show there before, or a designer’s name on the marquee. The baby tee, the puffer coat…I could take you way back! [Laughs] When I had the cat [logo], it was the most popular brand logo that was used as a tattoo on women. That says a lot about culture, and where we were at the time. There are a lot of cats on a lot of people!
What projects are you involved in today?
I have a lot of businesses, like my energy drink, Celsius, and my French skincare line, Codage. I’m in a little bit of artificial intelligence, too! I keep on moving to the next thing and adding to my repertoire. A working woman who’s doing multiple things is very attractive to me—and to others. I want to push that more with young women.