Fab follows function

Special to The Times

Kimora LEE SIMMONS -- model, fashion designer and Lagerfeld muse -- has a house in L.A. and a house outside New York. She has two daughters with hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons. “Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane” airs on the Style network on Sundays. She wrote “Fabulosity: What It Is & How to Get It.”

What’s the current state of back-and-forth with fashion and culture between New York and L.A.?

I think it goes hand in hand. New York has more of a grittier street sense of fashion that can combine well with elegance. L.A. is more of a laid-back place. Culturally, we’re at a time where it’s fun to look in on the lives of people: reality show, tabloids. That dictates people’s style. And L.A. is where paparazzi chase you down the street. A lot of your favorite stars are what we would call jet-setting -- living a multicultural, diverse kind of life. A lot of people are bicoastal.


Are you a diva?

When I think of the word “diva,” historically the diva is the grandmother, the grande dame, the solid cornerstone for the family. When you think of it in that context, as a strong woman, as a cornerstone of fashion and style, I think I can be a diva. I’m 6 feet tall, lots of hair, I have a grand sense of style. My clothing lines, Baby Phat and KLS, are about an aspirational lifestyle, which is sort of a lifestyle of grandeur.

But with the negative connotations of a diva, I think I’m not. I’m focused on giving back to the community, to give back to people who look up to you. I’m not an arrogant. . . . I know if you’re interviewing someone they’ll say they’re not, but people who know me, not people who think they know me but someone who really knows me, would tell you in that sense I’m not much of a diva. I am a grand woman!

Why are diamonds and gold and bling having such a long run? Why is the $12,000 watch so important?

That’s celebrated through hip-hop and youth and pop culture. That is what drives the world, the teens: what they see on MTV, what their favorite person is wearing. Not to mention Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe and the princess of Monaco, Princess Diana. That goes beyond pop or hip-hop.

But that is why, when I speak to young people, they think, “Oh, you have it all.” And I want to show them, not only do I have a lot of what seems to be the fun trappings of life, but I’m a dedicated person and mother and family woman.

And I’ve gone through ups and downs and found myself being a single mother. To have a certain thing, you have to work very hard. There’s no drunk nights, running out, crashing your car. There’s certain things you cannot do that will not be your quickest route. My brand is pushing a billion dollars -- $800 million-plus. That’s not a fluke. Along with the $12,000 watch and the bling lifestyle comes a commitment to your living, so you don’t end up drunk and in jail. The $12,000 watch is the icing on the cake. Pulling up in the Rolls is icing on the cake. It should come from a lot of hard work and dedication.


I never want to apologize for what I have. I have a lot of cars. I have diamonds in colors that weren’t popular that I wore and made popular. That is not what defines you. Don’t be mad about my diamonds -- and hear me: I’ve got two young children, teach them hard work and dedication. I have some of the trappings of the finer life but, [shoot], if that doesn’t bring me headaches. So the kids need to understand it’s a full circle to fabulosity.

Are you worried about how people will perceive you on the show?

Not at all. I’m one of the producers, and I’ve done reality projects before. It’s always gotten met with great feedback. Networks like to test, test, test. Everything I’ve done tests really well. I speak to women really well. I’m a mother, I’m a mogul, I’m a businesswoman, I’m a board member, I’m a pet owner.


It’s pretty hot! And what it’s not is drama. I don’t hang around with people who pee on walls and get drunk and throw up.

Yet despite that, you still sound busy.

I don’t know how I do it. Well, I have a lot of great people who work for me. I’m the den mother. So in that sense I’m the diva. They’ve been with me since they were interns, most of my staff. A lot of gay kids -- their families couldn’t take them and now they work for me. And now they’re fabulous. If I can help their mom and dad open their eyes, if it took me to show their family that they’ve come into their own independence, that’s fabulosity.

That’s surprisingly deep.

I’m deep. I got kids. I’m grown.