Making reality TV fashionableComment on this story
Tall as a skyscraper, Kimora Lee Simmons hunches down to speak to her husband, Oscar-nominated actor, Djimon Hounsou.
She asks if he’d like something to drink, water maybe? His response is inaudible, but he gently touches her arm and their body language does much to make everyone in the room all mushy inside. All together now: “awww”. She flicks her jet-black mane back and the transition from doting wife to media mogul is obvious.
The not-so-newly weds were in Cape Town for the Mandela Legacy Canvas auction and, of course, to speak to the press about the forthcoming season of her hit reality TV series, Life In the Fab Lane.
I follow the former supermodel and Baby Phat clothing founder to a table and her gait is graceful – learnt from years of being Karl Lagerfeld’s muse – and her smile is inviting – from years of posing for the paparazzi. But the 36-year-old powerhouse wants to approve the pictures.
“I just want to make sure you don’t use the one picture of me doing this,” – she sucks her cheeks in like an animated Nicki Minaj caricature.
Everyone laughs, Simmons the loudest, however, we know when it comes to her image, she means business. But, suprisingly, today she’s a calmer version of the dragon lady who makes her staff cry on camera.
Simmons lets out a belly laugh and asks: “Me? Calm? I’m wild, not serene and calm at all.”
She shoots a glance in the direction of Hounsou and entourage, then continues: “I flew 100 000 hours to get here and my husband’s dying he’s so tired, but I always feel energetic because I have kids, so everything is a group effort.
“It’s always me plus three, or us with my husband. I have company whenever I go to the bathroom so I always feel… what’s the word? Exuberant.”
Her kids Ming and Aoki Lee (the kids, who have their own clothing label called Mioki, are from her first marriage to hip hop icon and businessman, Russell Simmons) and Kenzo, her son with Hounsou, are mentioned often in our chat. It is clear her role as a mother is possibly Simmons’s most fulfilling job.
Her role as an aunt is one she holds dear, too. Her nieces by her first marriage are Vanessa and Angela Simmons, who started the Pastry clothing label. Simmons beams and says, “I inspired Pastry. I love Angela and Vanessa – they are my nieces and I’ve been there for them since they were very young. I don’t think it was so much that Baby Phat taught them anything – that was something I did. I taught them through that brand being a vehicle that this dream was possible.”
But what does that mean for fabulosity – a term she coined derived from “fabulous” – which is the lifestyle she has become the poster child for? The clothes, the cars, the carats… Simmons’s usually slit eyes open wide: “It’s always fabulosity!”
She continues: “People often mistake fabulosity to be the big rings, the cars and the diamonds, and it’s not. I never said that. Fabulosity is about things you have inside. But for me, now fabulosity is happiness and family and children and love.”
With a second book under the Fabulosity umbrella already under way, a skincare range in the works and a new season of her hugely popular show almost upon us, what should we expect from her fab life?
Simmons frowns when she finds out she just spilled the beans about a season that won’t be aired here for a while then says: “You guys must be missing something in there, but you should expect madness and fashion. I’m grown and sexy. I’m a mom and comfortable in my life. I probably haven’t been in this good a space in years and that goes for business, my personal life, anything.”
l Life in the Fab Lane 3 premieres on E! Entertainment Television (DStv Channel 124) on August 7 at 8.30pm.