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[PROFILE] Kimora Lee Simmons - Model, Clothing Designer, Celebrity, Mom

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  • madchinaman
    Kimora Lee Simmons, the New Queen of Conspicuous Consumption Happiness is a Franck Muller diamond-platinum watch, the late Gianni Versace s personal china, the
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 7, 2004
      Kimora Lee Simmons, the New Queen of Conspicuous Consumption
      Happiness is a Franck Muller diamond-platinum watch, the late Gianni
      Versace's personal china, the biggest mansion in all of New Jersey.
      By Phoebe Eaton
      http://www.newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/shopping/fashion/features/9306/
      http://www.kimoraleesimmons.com/


      -

      But Hollywood has been on line one ever since she was a judge on the
      UPN hit elimi-pageant, America's Next Top Model.

      Born out of wedlock, this woman-child from the Midwest had willed
      herself onto the runways of Europe as a model and was now the high-
      living other half of the city's most fascinating power couple. In
      just a few weeks, she would tower over Times Square on a billboard,
      wearing nothing but her brand-new Diva sneakers, some shiny diamond
      ankle shackles, and a yee-haw of a smile—a several-storied poster
      girl for naked ambition.

      Long ago, Kimora Lee realized that if she couldn't be the most
      popular girl in school, it might be fun to be the girl everybody
      talks about. "Be happy if people are talking about you," her father
      used to say. Only now she's not so sure. The self-styled World's
      Biggest Collector of Louis Vuitton is trying not to brag these days,
      but it's hard: There's just so much to show off. "I am a fly bitch!"
      the 29-year-old says, sounding slightly exasperated.

      In 1989, shortly after the fourteenth candle was snuffed on Kimora
      Perkins's cake, a scout in St. Louis put her on a plane to Paris.
      Chapter two, the House of Chanel. Lagerfeld had just broken up with
      his muse of six years: Expensive-looking Ines de la Fressange had
      posed as Marianne, an official symbol of France that Lagerfeld
      deemed "bourgeois." In strode Kimora, late of Dillard's department
      store in the Galleria mall. Lagerfeld repackaged her as a bejeweled
      child bride with a big-bowed hat for haute couture's grand finale.

      Kimora Lee's father, she says, was the first black deputy federal
      marshal in St. Louis, exclamation point. The rest of the story is
      generally redacted. He was out of the picture before she was born,
      but when she saw him every so often, he reminded her of Billy Dee
      Williams: six one, a charmer, very, very intelligent. "That's
      probably one of his problems," Kimora says. "You can be the law or
      you can be running from the law, and because you're smart, you can
      go either way."

      Like his daughter, Vernon Whitlock Jr. distinguished himself early:
      Graduating at the top of his police-academy class in St. Louis, he
      was recruited by the marshals in 1962. He told people he marched
      with Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery,
      Alabama. "My grandmother's first cousin was Frederick Douglass," he
      would say.

      After ten years, Whitlock quit to be an Equal Employment Opportunity
      Commission investigator; the money was better, and it got even
      better when he became a bail bondsman in the late seventies. But he
      was such a superfly, with his flashy cars and clothes and diamond-
      chip rings, and such a braggart—trading bonds for jewelry or sex
      with inmates' girlfriends, court papers alleged, and dealing cocaine
      and synthetic heroin—that in 1985, he was targeted by several law-
      enforcement agencies.

      "Vernon was the kind of guy that women waggled for if they saw him—
      flamboyant, outspoken, fun, and funny," remembers Guinn Kelly, the
      undercover cop who brought him down. The arrest at a Steak n Shake
      made the local news.

      Sentenced to 24 years when Kimora was in grade school, Whitlock was
      sprung after just 3: He swaggered into the local marshal's office
      and told ex-co-workers he'd turned state's evidence against his
      supplier. Now a barber, Whitlock was a guest at Kimora's St. Barts
      wedding and captured the ceremony on video, which he screens for
      customers at his shop.

      Her mom's story is very Joy Luck Club, Kimora says. Joanne Perkins
      was born into the chaos of the Korean War and later adopted by an
      American serviceman who had spotted her mother filling sandbags in
      Inchon. Joanne maintains that her "full-blooded Japanese" mother
      went to Korea from Kyoto as a refugee during World War II, though
      this would make her a historical anomaly. There were few, if any,
      refugees from Kyoto, since it was never bombed, and those who left
      for Korea at the war's end were invariably ethnic Koreans who were
      repatriating.

      Joanne Perkins worked as an administrator for Social Security and
      has retired to a house in East Hampton that Kimora bought for her.
      Perkins now calls herself by her mother's name, Kyoko, baffling
      longtime acquaintances. For Kimora, the link to her Japanese
      heritage represents another marketing opportunity. "I cannot wait to
      get Kimora on a plane and take her to Japan," says Russell, "because
      I know they're going to go crazy."

      "I consider myself to be one of the black women in fashion who made
      it," Kimora says. "But black women don't look at me like that."

      -


      The call came in from somewhere out on the rain-slick New Jersey
      Turnpike. Could they please hold the curtain at tonight's benefit
      performance of The Owl and the Pussycat at Manhattan's City Center?
      Pleasepleasepleasepleasepleeeeease?

      Kimora Lee Simmons, the dynamo director of Baby Phat fashions, was
      in the backseat of her extra-long platinum Bentley, running half an
      hour late. Did it mean anything to anyone that she was the
      chairwoman, yes, the chairwoman of the event?

      "There are rules for these things. Unions! The show will start on
      time," somebody had to tell her. Ralph and Ricky Lauren were in the
      house. So were Diane Von Furstenberg, Oscar de la Renta, and Zac
      Posen, the 23-year-old who had crafted Kimora's one-of-a-kind ombré-
      red gown with all that loopy swish that looked like a conch. It was
      the kind of dress that somehow managed to grab onto everything in
      its path.

      Kimora's husband, Russell Simmons, arrived at the theater in his
      white Ford Excursion. The co-founder of Def Jam Records and the
      affable godfather of hip-hop, Russell, who had recently sold his
      Phat Fashions clothing company for $140 million, joined the ladies
      with fur wraps inside as they awaited Vogue editor André Leon
      Talley's turn onstage with the Martha Graham dance troupe. Russell
      looked beatific in a soft-pink Phat Farm suit.

      As the performance got under way, Kimora sneaked in through a side
      entrance; she and Russell held hands, and he grinned when she
      whispered that the woman wearing the metal tree onstage was striking
      yoga's Warrior One pose.

      After the show, there was a dinner dance at the Plaza, where Russell
      and Kimora were seated with Anna Wintour. But Kimora was distracted.
      There was something for sale in the silent auction outside, and by
      God, she wanted to go home with it.

      UNPRECEDENTED FANTASY OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE MR. BLAHNIK NAME A SHOE IN
      YOUR HONOR, the sign said.

      Kimora slipped out to the vestibule to keep an eye on the
      prize. "Did no one hear me on the microphone? I said, `No one go
      mess with the Manolo Blahniks! I'm the chairwoman!' " she joked with
      the society babes. Kimora got on a cell phone with a Minneapolis
      doctor whose wife was there fishing for a birthday present. "You're
      making me look bad," Kimora said to him in that jingling, cash-money
      voice. "Tell your wife I will give you a pair of mine. Let's just
      collaborate." The doctor caved, and somebody chided Kimora for her
      furtive price-fixing. But there was other competition. Kimora found
      herself toe-to-toe with Suzanne Levine, the podiatrist celebrated
      for tending to the ailments of the high-high-heeled. "I don't know
      why Manolo Blahnik would want to name a shoe after a podiatrist, but
      whatever," someone in the crowd whispered.

      "It's my livelihood," Levine kept saying.

      Kimora Lee was a more obvious Cinderella for the slipper. Born out
      of wedlock, this woman-child from the Midwest had willed herself
      onto the runways of Europe as a model and was now the high-living
      other half of the city's most fascinating power couple. In just a
      few weeks, she would tower over Times Square on a billboard, wearing
      nothing but her brand-new Diva sneakers, some shiny diamond ankle
      shackles, and a yee-haw of a smile—a several-storied poster girl for
      naked ambition.

      A lawyer shouted that he was the lawyer for Dr. Suzanne Levine, so
      nobody should try anything funny. "I want you to make sure no one
      does this to me, Jack," said Kimora to her lawyer and manager, Jack
      McCue. But the hands on her diamond-flecked watch touched twelve,
      and Russell dragged Kimora back to her car. ("If it had been just
      me, we could have had an all-girls night at Butter!" she said, with
      a little helium laugh.) The shoe was hers, or so she thought. But
      then Levine bid a final $20,000 on a piece of folded paper, and
      after a protracted cellular exchange with McCue from the car, Kimora
      decided she had enough Manolos at home to play with.

      The gossip columnists sunk their canines into the incident. That
      scarlet Kabbalah string on Kimora's wrist, the one "blessed by the
      matriarch Rachel—she's long dead, like in a tomb somewhere," had
      again failed to protect her.

      "You gotta get tough," Russell told his wife. She had gone to such
      trouble—for him!—to measure up as an urban fashion icon, a woman
      who, in her own words, could "inspire young women to aspire." But to
      the New York tabloids, Kimora Lee Simmons is an irresistible
      pincushion.

      "Why is everyone worrying about what she spends?" says
      Russell. "They should be worried about what Roberto Cavalli spends,
      too. What Ralph Lauren spends, too. How many cars does Tommy
      Hilfiger have, by the way?"

      "If you are successful, people want to see it," says Talley. "They
      want to share in the dream." Especially people of struggle, as
      Russell Simmons tactfully calls them. It's one reason rap lyrics
      sometimes read like shopping lists.

      Long ago, Kimora Lee realized that if she couldn't be the most
      popular girl in school, it might be fun to be the girl everybody
      talks about. "Be happy if people are talking about you," her father
      used to say. Only now she's not so sure. The self-styled World's
      Biggest Collector of Louis Vuitton is trying not to brag these days,
      but it's hard: There's just so much to show off. "I am a fly bitch!"
      the 29-year-old says, sounding slightly exasperated.

      "I have this vision of kimora being the greatest brand in the
      world," says Russell, 46, who, like his wife, speaks in Trumpian
      superlatives. "There's no woman better. Nobody should put on a
      Franck Muller diamond-platinum watch before Kimora. You have some
      girl who's a rapper who came from the block? It ain't the same as
      Kimora."

      Russell started Baby Phat in 1999, the year after he married Kimora.
      His Phat Farm men's line had seemingly caught cold, and Russell
      recognized his bride's potential as a champion of the multiethnic
      woman, an image that could sell a new line of women's and children's
      clothing to teenagers and clued-in young mommies. Under the ex-
      model's supervision, Baby Phat fashion shows were like rock
      concerts, promoting the entire Phat family. Runway collections were
      created shotgun in three weeks: Editors chuckled at the visible
      safety pins and the fur stoles camouflaging hurried finishing on
      spring 2004's Josephine Baker showgirls, but none of that stuff was
      ever meant for Macy's. The big business is that kitten on your butt,
      those $59 jeans, the T-shirts, the copycat Vuitton-like bags,
      graffiti'd with the BP logo.

      The Times Square billboard will be one of the first sightings of
      Kimora Lee: The Brand. The newly formed Simmons Jewelry Company is
      inventing a Kimora-cut diamond. Talks are ratcheting up to get
      Kimora her own Baby Phat Barbie, a line of M.A.C cosmetics, a Coty
      perfume.

      Seventy-five percent of people who buy hip-hop records are nonblack,
      and Russell likes to think that everything urban can trend
      similarly. Nelly and Eve and Beyoncé Knowles and Sean "Puffy" Combs
      all want game in the women's category: Urban-apparel sales were up
      to $6 billion last year, and with the January sale of Phat Fashions
      to the clothing conglomerate Kellwood—he continues to run it—there's
      a lot more gas in Russell's tank.

      The fashion company is but one sliver of Kimora's portfolio: The
      Lucy Ricardo in her would give everything a whirl. Two years ago,
      Kimora recorded a demo; friends choke back laughter whenever the
      subject of "A Million" comes up. But Hollywood has been on line one
      ever since she was a judge on the UPN hit elimi-pageant, America's
      Next Top Model. She's been tapped as a correspondent for The
      Insider, an Entertainment Tonight off-shoot, and her View-like talk
      show, Life & Style, is arriving at the same time this fall as she
      heads into wide theatrical release as an NBA player's ex in Beauty
      Shop, MGM's Barbershop spinoff.

      "I loved the whole experience, and I want to do more of it!" says
      Kimora, fresh from the MGM set. "Uh-oh!"

      "Damn! She's basketball tall," the techies marveled whenever she
      stepped out of her trailer, six four in heels, her three dogs yap-
      yap-yapping, a Who died?–size birthday wreath from her husband
      outside with the remains of an ice sculpture of her bitch-goddess
      self. Russell flew a poet in to recite some birthday verse: "27
      Again," the title teased.

      Russell was ambivalent about her doing the movie. He doesn't know if
      he wants everyone in the world to know just how crazy and funny and
      silly Kimora can be, because they've got some jeans to
      sell. "There's a lot of stuff Russell wishes I wouldn't do," Kimora
      acknowledges.

      At parties, if Russell is working the room, Kimora is a foot-
      tapper. "Whenever you're ready," she says loudly. "On some level,
      she probably resents the attention that Russell gets, because she
      was a model," says one record-industry executive. Russell cocktail-
      parties with Mayor Bloomberg, Martha Stewart, Ron Perelman, Andre
      Balazs, Alan Grubman, Rabbi Marc Schneier. Sounding at times like a
      man planning a run for office, he's been vocal about public-
      education funding, drug-law reform, and voter registration, and he
      gives almost $1 million a year to charity. Some say he once hoped
      for an appointment or a seat in Congress, but his pal and investor
      Bobby Shriver, who made more than $2 million in the Kellwood sale,
      thinks Russell's not cut out to be a legislator, "and besides," he
      says, "every congressman wishes they had the kind of platform he's
      got."

      "Russell's a cultural icon," continues the record-industry
      executive. "And in the hip-hop world, it's all about Russell." There
      was a nasty cloudburst when Kimora said something to Combs and he
      threatened to hit her—"And I was pregnant! The moron!" says Kimora.
      Combs eventually got down on his knees in public to apologize. "I
      respect him for being a fierce entrepreneur," she says now, "and I
      appreciate knowing that everything he does is emulating my husband."

      Russell and Kimora have a unique relationship in hip-hop culture,
      says Talley: "She's not behind him, she's on the side of him, and
      sometimes she's in front of him!" But even though Kimora scored $20
      million of her own from Kellwood, it's Russell who is sitting in the
      director's chair, Russell who just took her to England to meet
      Prince Charles.

      "There's a difference between a rapper talking about a luxury brand
      and someone who really has the ability to establish one," says
      Russell. "I want people to know Kimora's history."

      It's a history that could have been ripped from the typewriter of
      Danielle Steel. Ten minutes after the warm hello, Kimora casually
      drops that she had an exclusive contract modeling for Chanel at the
      age of 13, exclamation point. Russell likes to say she lived with
      Karl Lagerfeld.

      Already, one detects the myth-mongering. In 1989, shortly after the
      fourteenth candle was snuffed on Kimora Perkins's cake, a scout in
      St. Louis put her on a plane to Paris. Chapter two, the House of
      Chanel. Lagerfeld had just broken up with his muse of six years:
      Expensive-looking Ines de la Fressange had posed as Marianne, an
      official symbol of France that Lagerfeld deemed "bourgeois." In
      strode Kimora, late of Dillard's department store in the Galleria
      mall. Lagerfeld repackaged her as a bejeweled child bride with a big-
      bowed hat for haute couture's grand finale.

      "This girl represents the nineties!" he told reporters. "She has
      human proportions!" When CNN's Elsa Klensch asked where she was
      from, Lagerfeld professed ignorance. W magazine guessed she was
      Hawaiian.

      "We always felt that Karl had kind of used Kimora to flaunt in
      Ines's face," says Kimora's St. Louis agent, Delcia Corlew. "You
      know, a sort of, `Here's this young girl who's taking your place.' "

      "It's a wonderful thing I've created with you," Lagerfeld told
      Kimora, "but now you're a $5,000-tote-bag-wearing monster, and for
      that, I am sorry."

      "I was 13! I was certainly the youngest face. I was certainly the
      most different face that had ever been the bride or the muse!" says
      Kimora. In her adolescent mind, she believed that Lagerfeld, a
      confirmed bachelor with a Louis XV peruke, wanted to marry Ines. But
      Lagerfeld was dallying with other lovelies, too: Bernadette
      Jurkowski, Shoshanna Fitzgerald, and Olga Sobolewska. Women's Wear
      Daily labeled all four "the Karlettes."

      "Olga was the only one on contract, and Olga's name wasn't really
      even Olga," Shoshanna Fitzgerald Sebring remembers. "Karl just
      didn't like her real name."

      Kimora was speedily indoctrinated in the ways of fantasy. But making
      friends was difficult because there were no other children skipping
      around 31, rue Cambon. "My de-ah, my de-ah, why do you have to walk
      like that?" said the Kaiser, as Lagerfeld is known. "Can't you stand
      up straight?"

      She was now pirouetting through the local McDonald's in Chanel's
      signature silk ballerina shoes, cardigan, and "camellia bows out the
      yin-yang," she says. The stitch-and-snips at the house joked that
      Kimora had become "Mademoiselle Chanel."

      "She wanted a Porsche, she wanted a Mercedes, I knew that about
      her," says Talley, who was introduced.

      Lagerfeld himself was a grandee, proficient in the art of high
      maintenance, says Kimora: "I remember his house on Rue de
      l'Université. It was like, hoist the piano through the window. Hoist
      the ten-ton marble sculpture up the six flights of stairs. This was
      just the process of bringing things home."

      The particulars of life inside the castle keep are not forthcoming,
      because she didn't live there, and worked only two seasons for
      Chanel, says her second agent, Bethann Hardison. "It was a novelty
      for Karl, a moment," says Hardison flatly. "She talks about it a lot
      because it's chic to talk about."

      "You know how Russell will say, `My wife has traveled all over the
      world and she speaks these different languages and she taught me
      what fork to pick up?' " Kimora says. "Well, Karl taught me which
      fork to pick up. Andtospeakveryquickly."

      Whereas other models could be frosty Sno-Kones, Kimora radiated a
      sunny familiarity as she was fussed over at fittings. But Kimora was
      always in the fridge or running up a scandalous phone tab.
      Lagerfeld's patience was not elastic. "She got on people's nerves,"
      says Hardison. "The child was ostentatious."

      "It's a wonderful thing I've created with you," Lagerfeld told her
      that fall, "but now you're a $5,000-tote-bag-wearing monster, and
      for that, I am sorry. Now sit down and be quiet!" Kimora requested
      Tyra Banks as her roommate in one model apartment, and they tried to
      visit every Häagen-Dazs store in Paris. "She always had the new
      Prada bag and would laugh at me because mine was from Wal-Mart,"
      says Banks.

      Careering back and forth between Paris and St. Louis, Kimora did
      make Honor Society and graduated on time with the help of a catch-up
      coach. Her mother was thinking college and tried to stop Kimora from
      frittering away her tiny fortune. But at the age of 15, she'd bought
      herself a Rolex and a secondhand BMW drop-top, before she even had a
      driver's license. Accidents ensued—a surgeon put 40 stitches in her
      face. Some girls spray-painted the car. At Dillard's, the other
      models hissed about the Pomeranian now poking out of Kimora's la-di-
      da Louis Vuitton carryall. Life in St. Louis had been torture since
      grade school; five ten at the age of 10, Kimora was always knocking
      into things. "Chinky giraffe! Chinky giraffe!" the other kids
      taunted.

      "That's how I got into trouble, because it was the cute little white
      girls who were accepting of me," Kimora recalls. "And all the black
      kids said, `She thinks she's white!' " If only her black father had
      been around more, they might have accepted her as black. "There was
      no Asian anything," she says, in her lower-middle-class neighborhood
      of Florissant.

      Kimora Lee's father, she says, was the first black deputy federal
      marshal in St. Louis, exclamation point. The rest of the story is
      generally redacted. He was out of the picture before she was born,
      but when she saw him every so often, he reminded her of Billy Dee
      Williams: six one, a charmer, very, very intelligent. "That's
      probably one of his problems," Kimora says. "You can be the law or
      you can be running from the law, and because you're smart, you can
      go either way."

      Like his daughter, Vernon Whitlock Jr. distinguished himself early:
      Graduating at the top of his police-academy class in St. Louis, he
      was recruited by the marshals in 1962. He told people he marched
      with Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery,
      Alabama. "My grandmother's first cousin was Frederick Douglass," he
      would say.

      After ten years, Whitlock quit to be an Equal Employment Opportunity
      Commission investigator; the money was better, and it got even
      better when he became a bail bondsman in the late seventies. But he
      was such a superfly, with his flashy cars and clothes and diamond-
      chip rings, and such a braggart—trading bonds for jewelry or sex
      with inmates' girlfriends, court papers alleged, and dealing cocaine
      and synthetic heroin—that in 1985, he was targeted by several law-
      enforcement agencies.

      "Vernon was the kind of guy that women waggled for if they saw him—
      flamboyant, outspoken, fun, and funny," remembers Guinn Kelly, the
      undercover cop who brought him down. The arrest at a Steak n Shake
      made the local news.

      Sentenced to 24 years when Kimora was in grade school, Whitlock was
      sprung after just 3: He swaggered into the local marshal's office
      and told ex-co-workers he'd turned state's evidence against his
      supplier. Now a barber, Whitlock was a guest at Kimora's St. Barts
      wedding and captured the ceremony on video, which he screens for
      customers at his shop.

      Her mom's story is very Joy Luck Club, Kimora says. Joanne Perkins
      was born into the chaos of the Korean War and later adopted by an
      American serviceman who had spotted her mother filling sandbags in
      Inchon. Joanne maintains that her "full-blooded Japanese" mother
      went to Korea from Kyoto as a refugee during World War II, though
      this would make her a historical anomaly. There were few, if any,
      refugees from Kyoto, since it was never bombed, and those who left
      for Korea at the war's end were invariably ethnic Koreans who were
      repatriating.

      Joanne Perkins worked as an administrator for Social Security and
      has retired to a house in East Hampton that Kimora bought for her.
      Perkins now calls herself by her mother's name, Kyoko, baffling
      longtime acquaintances. For Kimora, the link to her Japanese
      heritage represents another marketing opportunity. "I cannot wait to
      get Kimora on a plane and take her to Japan," says Russell, "because
      I know they're going to go crazy."

      "I consider myself to be one of the black women in fashion who made
      it," Kimora says. "But black women don't look at me like that."

      "A number of them probably think Russell should be married to a
      black woman," says Emil Wilbekin, the editorial director of Vibe
      magazine. Kimora's efforts to speak homegirl annoy them, too, like
      when she introduced Russell at an awards show as "my baby daddy," a
      ghetto expression usually used by a woman who has a baby out of
      wedlock to get money, says Wilbekin. In negotiations for TV shows
      and movies, race remains an issue: Is Kimora Lee Simmons black
      enough?

      But her autograph signings have the teenage cuties with Baby Phat
      cats tattooed to their badonkadonks in fits. Kimora just got one
      herself.

      The Saddle River house is way bigger than the one in East
      Hampton, "actually two or three houses deep," says Kimora. "You're
      like Alice in Wonderland in here—and I'm not saying this in a
      bragging way."

      Kimora was 17 when Russell Simmons, who grew up in Hollis, Queens,
      spotted her on Mary McFadden's catwalk. Russell's girlfriends looked
      like they'd stepped out of a Newport cigarettes ad—"but with Def
      Jam's success, he got a crack at a different grade of model," says a
      hip-hop executive who's known him for years.

      "In Russell's mind, he's always trading up."

      Russell sent ridiculous flowers over to Kimora's agency, so heavy
      that two men were required to move them. "At the time, I thought
      that was major," Kimora remembers. "I told Tyra."

      "I can imagine what they look like," Tyra Banks replied, "because he
      sent me some, too." Tyra told her to get rid of him.

      Kimora's bookings would soon fall off—people complained she was a
      brat—but Russell's interest did not flag. "I was kind of more on his
      level," says Kimora. They were on and off for years. "He was a
      playboy, and I am a bit crazy because of it today," says Kimora. She
      eventually fled to Milan to escape the insanity. After a year,
      Russell begged her mother for her phone number. Yoga and veganism
      had chased away the partying and the other women. Kimora moved into
      Russell's house in Beverly Hills and took courses at UCLA.

      According to friends, Russell is happier and more stable since
      Kimora arrived in his life for good. "Kimora's very flamboyant and
      Russell tries not to be," says Donald Trump, "but in many respects,
      they're the same."

      Russell is quick to point out his Timex to a reporter, but he also
      studies expensive timepieces in WatchTime magazine—a yogi with
      Brahmin tastes. Russell often quotes his rapper brother, the
      Reverend Run—"You can't help the poor if you're one of them." Run
      works with the controversial Bishop Bernard Jordan, a "prosperity
      preacher" emphasizing entrepreneurism, as well as the bestowing of
      money on the bishop's person if you want to "receive." Russell
      admits he once gave the guy $10,000.

      Kimora shuffled downstairs wearing her FUCK FAME T-shirt, rocks
      flashing like high beams on both hands.

      With ten bedrooms and eleven bathrooms, the house in Saddle River,
      New Jersey, is way bigger than the one in East Hampton. "It's
      actually two or three houses deep," said Kimora. "You're like Alice
      in Wonderland in here—and I'm not saying this in a bragging way."

      Such a great big space required lots of filling. First, there's
      Russell's art, a rare Dalai Lama face mask, some Bleckners, a
      Clemente here, a Warhol-Basquiat collaboration there. And Kimora's
      innumerable objets: Fabergé eggs ("all from Czar whomever—Nicholas!
      I mean, what he gave to his czarina, right? They're probably not
      original—see! Fabergé eggs! I love my eggs. So Phoebe, if you see an
      egg, send it to me, okay?"), Limoges boxes ("That's the little tag
      that I want to rip off, but my mother would tell me not to"),
      pillows needlepointed with validation (TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING IS
      SIMPLY WONDERFUL).

      After Gianni Versace died, Kimora practically showed up at Sotheby's
      with a moving van. "This is actually Versace's china. His very own
      that he ate off," she said with liturgical solemnity. "This is His
      own personal bed from His personal bedroom. His mattress. You go
      figure it out."

      Versace was one of the few designers who could actually create a
      supermodel, but he didn't think Kimora was sexy. "Kimora's such a
      baby!" he used to say, which made her glum because she preferred his
      extravagant stylings. Now Kimora's older daughter, Ming, 4, was
      jumping up and down on His satin-duchesse bedspread, on His $20,000
      mahogany lit d'alcove.

      "No respect for the Versace bed," Kimora said calmly. "There is
      nothing in here that a kid can't touch." When she was growing up,
      her white stepmother had a white sofa. And she would say, "You're
      gonna get it if you don't get out of my living room."

      There are no white sofas here. Or white pets. "Who's even this color
      in this house?" she shouted to her assistant, spotting some fuzz on
      a tufted ottoman. "All my animals are black!"

      Kimora collects mutts. Some have snooty names like Beluga. Miyake is
      a cat that showed up on her doorstep, "so calm and sweet, like the
      people in Saddle River," she said. "But I have another one,
      Midnight, from the ghettos of Seattle. He's long and wiry and crazy.
      He'll knock stuff over!" she said admiringly.

      In a recent magazine campaign, Kimora was photographed in her
      mansion as a you-can't-touch-this chatelaine attended by an array of
      servants. It got people's attention. "The message is: I'm rich and
      you're not," says Robin Givhan, the Washington Post's fashion
      critic. "I found the ads extraordinarily offensive. It's a very
      calculated `look at all the stuff I have' with the domestics, and
      the kids are just another possession."

      But plenty of designers have starred in their own ads, including
      Calvin, Giorgio, Donna, Donatella, and Ralph. "It makes people feel
      like they're more a part of your life," said Kimora. "And my life is
      so crazy and so over-the-top, an E! True Hollywood Story, except
      without being tragic."

      Kimora and Russell bought the house, not far from where Richard
      Nixon lived out his last days, from Arnold Simon, who used to
      manufacture Baby Phat jeans. "Arnie came to me and said, `You know,
      your wife wants my house,' " says Russell, who was happy in his
      Liberty Street loft. But Kimora's kids would grow up with the yard
      she didn't have. The day after Tony Shafrazi's gallery removed all
      of Russell's art to Saddle River, terrorists removed the World Trade
      Center next door. Today, the apartment is condemned. Wyclef Jean, Ja
      Rule, and the Reverend Run are some of the people they now run into
      at the local gas station in Jersey.

      Daughter Aoki didn't want to take a bath, and Kimora swung the 1 1⁄2-
      year-old up on her hip. "Really, it's hard being a teenage mother.
      That's why they say you should wait until you're old enough, and
      maybe I wasn't old enough for you two," Kimora said playfully. "When
      they get older, I may get a tutor on the road." She won't separate
      from her children, she said, and if she's gone for any length of
      time, the animals hop on the Gulfstream, too.

      Aoki's tears turned into long sighs. Kimora is friendly with half-
      Japanese model Devon Aoki, who scored enviable contracts with Chanel
      and Versace. Kimora not only hired her for a Baby Phat ad campaign,
      she also snatched up her manager. "But I didn't name my daughter
      after her," Kimora said, "though maybe subliminally, subconsciously
      it happened."

      Kimora headed into her favorite room, a walk-in closet with security
      cameras ogling the shoes like jewel-encrusted barges, the bowls of
      Halloweeny candy, the Tony snared for that Def Poetry Jam producer
      credit. A young man appeared, Kimora's queer eye, she said, a makeup
      artist who knows altogether too much about her pumps. "These are
      Giuseppe Zanotti," he said, grabbing one pair, "and she had these
      before Beyoncé did in her video." Kimora considered the fistfuls of
      jewelry locked up in the safe, and how she was always buying these
      gifts for herself. Russell just wasn't that kind of guy, she said.
      She looked sad.

      An SUV grumbled to a halt outside, and Russell Simmons climbed out
      of the backseat. "Hi, hubby!"

      Russell was fasting, penance for paella eaten on vacation with the
      guys in the Dominican Republic. He went to grab several baby bottles
      filled with scary-looking green stuff out of the fridge. He slid a
      glass over to Kimora. She couldn't imagine how anyone could drink
      that stuff, even if it was in a Tiffany glass.

      Nailed atop the grand sweep of the staircase is an ancient little
      sign: COLORED WAITING ROOM. Russell talked about the "arrogance of
      white men" who couldn't imagine the future of urban clothing and
      music. "If I was a white company run by a white guy in Greenwich—if
      I was Tommy—it wouldn't have taken me eleven years to sell it," said
      Russell. His first backers were the "S.Y.'s," as he calls them, with
      the greatest affection: a tight-knit group of Syrian Jews who live
      on Ocean Parkway. Inner-city students who take class trips to his
      office see mostly Jews and black Muslims working in perfect harmony,
      he said.

      The S on the Neverlandish gates outside stands for samadhi, a state
      of blissful union. "The whole thing about living in a house like
      this," said Kimora, "is being able to share it with your family.
      Have tons of kids! Have tons of animals!" A giant topiary giraffe at
      the end of her cobbled driveway is the last thing Kimora sees when
      she heads out into the world in her Bentley. And it will never
      disappear from her rearview mirror.

      ================

      http://www.thesmokinggun.com/mugshots/kimoraleemug1.html
      Kimora Lee Simmons, the wife of music power Russell Simmons, was
      arrested in July 2004 and charged with marijuana possession and a
      variety of vehicular infractions following a traffic stop near her
      New Jersey estate. Saddle River police said Simmons, driving a
      Mercedes-Benz coupe, repeatedly ignored their directions to pull her
      car over as they followed in a cruiser with its lights flashing.

      ======

      POOR KIMORA LEE SIMMONS
      By Michelle Malkin
      http://michellemalkin.com/archives/000319.htm


      Kimora Lee Simmons says: It's all your fault!

      From the Woe-Is-Me Celebrity Files...

      The wife of hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons faces drug and motor
      vehicle charges after police said she was driving erratically and
      ignored the flashing lights of a cruiser for nearly two miles.
      Kimora Lee Simmons was arrested just after midnight Monday outside
      the couple's estate in Saddle River...Simmons, 29, was charged with
      eluding an officer, possessing marijuana, careless driving and
      operating a vehicle while possessing a drug.
      Who's fault is it?

      She denied any wrongdoing, said her lawyer, Stacey Richman. "It's
      our perception that this is just another example of a prominent
      member of the hip-hop community being made an example of. The
      Simmons family is extremely involved in their community and this is
      an attempt to denigrate Kimora's good name and that of her family,"
      Richman said.

      ==============

      Russell rejects 'materialist' rap
      http://www.nydailynews.com/10-08-2003/news/col/grove/story/146327p-
      129211c.html


      Russell Simmons is mad as hell and he's not gonna take it any more.

      The hip hop/fashion impresario was practically spitting with rage
      yesterday when he called to complain about an item in another
      newspaper's gossip column that says his wife, Kimora Lee
      Simmons, "comes off a mite materialistic" in the January Harper's
      Bazaar.

      Bazaar documents the eye-popping facets of her larger-than-life
      lifestyle - including a 49,000-square-foot, 20-bathroom mansion in
      Saddle River, N.J., a 25-carat diamond ring, a fleet of luxury cars,
      five maids, four assistants, two live-in nannies, a chef and two
      drivers.

      "Every other week it's the same thing, and I'm upset about it and
      she's upset about it," Simmons told me, adding that he has no
      problem with the Harper's Bazaar spread. "Does anyone care about
      Donatella Versace's extravagance or Karl Lagerfeld's? This is all
      because Kimora is an African-American Asian woman. It's as if they
      think she's undeserving."

      Kimora Lee, designer of the Baby Phat apparel line among other
      business and philanthropic pursuits, drafted an aggrieved letter to
      her tormentors: "It is obvious the writers of the New York Post
      really don't quite know me, my husband, or family …

      "I'm not defined by the materialistic things that were listed in the
      article. I do possess them but they do not possess me. My focus is
      on my children, my family, my career, and my community. Extravagance
      is in the eye of the beholder."

      She added that their daughters, 3 1/2- year-old Ming Lee and 1 1/2-
      year-old Aoki Lee Simmons, "are being exposed to educational
      experiences of which neither Russell nor I could have ever dreamed.
      They are learning French and Italian, they take yoga, swimming,
      ballet, piano, and gymnastics. But most of all, as a mother, I am
      teaching them to respect the oneness of humanity and to never look
      down on someone who is less privileged or fortunate.

      "The truth is the more I give, the more I receive. In fact, we give
      to more than 70 different charities."

      The author of the offending column told me: "Kimora Lee Simmons is
      great. If she wasn't already here, we'd have to invent her."

      ==============

      Kimora Lee Simmons Embraces Her Bitchiosity
      http://www.gawker.com/news/unused/fashion/kimora-lee-simmons-
      embraces-her-bitchiosity-023154.php


      If we weren't so damn fixated with the mess that is stoned fashion
      designer Kimora Lee Simmons, we'd be critical of the Guardian's
      Observer magazine for devoting a ridiculously lengthy article to the
      one-trick bling pony. So, instead, we'll just zero in on Kimora
      herself, who drips in opulence and Kabbalah strings:

      Long ago, Kimora Lee realised that if she couldn't be the most
      popular girl in school, it might be fun to be the girl everybody
      talks about. 'Be happy if people are talking about you,' her father
      used to say. Only now she's not so sure. The self-styled World's
      Biggest Collector of Louis Vuitton is trying not to brag these days,
      but there's just so much to show off. 'I am a fly bitch!' the 29-
      year-old says, sounding slightly exasperated.
      Just "slightly?" That's a shame, for a second we thought there might
      be some self-reflection going on there in Kimora's pretty little
      head.

      Kimora's World [Observer UK]
      UPDATE: Oops, so this is a reprint of an old NY Mag article. Are
      they just catching on to Kimora's "essence" across the pond? God
      bless them for staying pure for this long.

      ========

      Kimora's Arrest Is Russell's Synergy
      http://www.gawker.com/news/unused/tv/kimoras-arrest-is-russells-
      synergy-018856.php


      Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons is promoting his new show on Court
      TV, "Hip Hop Justice," in which he examines unjust targeting of
      rappers by law enforcement. And, in a grand karmic coincidence, it
      looks like he'll be featuring wife Kimora Lee's little run-in with
      Johnny Law. Since she didn't pull her car over for the police until
      she got all the way home, there's even video footage of the arrest
      as filmed by their estate's fancypants security cameras. We
      initially thought the show sounded like Cribs but with a conscience -
      - boring! -- but you know we'll tune in to see Kimora in 'cuffs.


      ==

      LIFE & STYLE TV SHOW PROFILE

      Kimora Lee Simmons
      http://www.sonypictures.com/tv/shows/life_style/about/bios/kimora.php


      Kimora Lee Simmons is chief executive officer and creative director
      of Baby Phat, an "aspirational" lifestyle clothing line specializing
      in sexy, urban fashion for women. She recently served as one of the
      judges for the UPN television series "America's Next Top Model."
      Simmons' first experience in fashion and entertainment came at the
      age of 13, when she became the muse to the House of Chanel and its
      legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld. She lives in New Jersey with her
      husband, hip-hop music pioneer Russell Simmons, and their two
      children.

      =======

      Kimora Lee Simmons Unveils New Creations
      The Associated Press
      Thursday, December 2, 2004; 12:03 PM
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A28240-2004Dec2.html


      NEW YORK - Kimora Lee Simmons has a full plate. It's probably a
      solid gold, diamond-encrusted plate, but it is definitely full.

      "I think I just sort of keep going," the flashy TV personality and
      Baby Phat creative director told The Associated Press. "I take a
      bunch of things on my plate, but I have wonderful people behind me.
      And I only get into things I know about."

      The thing Simmons, 29, knows most about is bling. One of her latest
      creations, a pink diamond-accented Motorola cell phone, retails for
      $699. And at Bloomingdale's last week, she launched her own "Diamond
      Diva" jewelry line under her Baby Phat label.

      "Our pieces are 30 to 50 percent bigger than other fine jewelry. My
      personal taste is big and over the top. Kimora Lee Simmons is larger
      than life-size." said Simmons, who often refers to herself in third-
      person.

      The former model, wife of hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and mother
      of two said she's transformed or, more appropriately, branded
      herself into a sort of urban Martha Stewart. But does that
      mean "Kimora Lee Living" is on the way?

      "I'm rolling out a home line," Simmons revealed. "I would make paint
      and bedding. People ask me all the time about my home. Where did you
      get that door? Where did you those curtains? Where did you get those
      pillows? I'm more than willing to open myself up like that."

      Also on Simmons' "to do" list is a reality TV show pilot and a
      fragrance from French designer Coty, which will be in stores next
      fall.

      "I know I'm really real," says Simmons. "I do what I love. I
      generally have a love of fashion and lifestyle. Sometimes it's hard
      for me. I am a young woman and have all the real struggles that
      women have."
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