Kimora Lee Simmons (born Kimora Lee Perkins on May 4, 1975 is an American fashion model, author, and the president and Creative Director for Phat Fashions. Formerly the Creative Director of Baby Phat, Simmons became CEO of Phat Fashions after ex husband Russell Simmons stepped down. A 2007 reality television show, Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane, focuses on her life as a mother and CEO of Phat Fashions. She has appeared in music videos and was a judge on the first season of America"s Next Top Model. She was scheduled to return to the show as a judge starting with cycle 14, however, she changed her plans and will not return to the show as judge.
Simmons was born in St. Louis, Missouri and is of Asian and African American descent. Although her mother, Joanne Perkins, was born in Korea, she is Japanese. Perkins was adopted by an American serviceman during the Korean War and she now goes by her own mother"s Japanese name, Kyoko. Her father, Vernon Whitlock Jr., is African American. He has worked as a Federal Marshal, a Social Security Administrator, and a barber in St. Louis.
Growing up in the northern St. Louis suburb of Florissant, Missouri, Simmons was the target of schoolyard bullying and teasing, because of her height (she was 5 feet, 10 inches tall by the time she was 10 years old) and mixed ancestry. To help Simmons, her mother enrolled her in a modeling class when she was eleven years old. Two years later she was discovered by Marie Christine Kollock (a representative for seminal Paris Agency Glamour) at a Model Search in St. Louis (organized by Kay Mitchell) and sent to Paris. Simmons was awarded an exclusive modeling contract with Chanel and just after her thirteenth birthday, went to work under the tutelage of famed Chanel designer, Karl Lagerfeld.
She quickly gained attention in the fashion world when Lagerfeld closed his haute couture show with Simmons, who strutted down the runway decked out as a child bride. Everything people thought was weird about me before, Simmons told People Weekly, was now good. By age 14, she had grown to a height of six feet.
Simmons is a graduate of Lutheran High School North in St. Louis, Missouri.
In 2004 Russell Simmons sold Phat Farm to Kellwood Company for $140 million. When Russell stepped down as CEO of Phat Fashions LLC in September 2007, Kimora who was already Creative Director of Baby Phat (which was a branch off Phat Farm Industries) was promoted by Kellwood to President and Creative Director of Phat Fashions. It is Simmons" goal to fashion Baby Phat, launched in 1999, into an aspirational lifestyle brand. Her couture line, KLS, launched in Fall 2007.
A self help book written by Simmons, Fabulosity: What It Is and How to Get It, was published by HarperEntertainment in February 2006. The book is set to function as a "lifestyle manual" on everything from spirituality and finances to fashion and beauty.
In February 2008, Simmons" Barbie doll was launched, created under the direction of Simmons. She has also launched four perfumes for women: Goddess, Golden Goddess, Seductive Goddess and recently, Baby Phat Fabulosity.
Simmons has appeared in small roles in television and films including Beauty Shop along with Queen Latifah and Waist Deep. She has also appeared in music videos for Ginuwine, Usher, and made a brief appearance as one of the several beautiful women surrounding the police chief in the 2000 film, Little Nicky.
In 2003, Simmons signed on as one of the judges on America"s Next Top Model, Cycle 1, and it was reported Simmons may return to the judging panel for Cycle 14. She has also been a co host of Sony Television"s syndicated talk show
Life & Style.
On August 5, 2007 her reality TV show premiered on Style Network. Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane chronicles her daily life and routine, along with her relationship with her two daughters Ming Lee and Aoki Lee Simmons. It now re airs on E! Entertainment Television. Season two premiered on the Style network on April 20, 2008.
On December 20, 1998, she married Russell Simmons. They have two daughters; Ming Lee (born January 2000) and Aoki Lee (born August 2002). Both Ming Lee and Aoki Lee model for Baby Phat Kids Collection. They live in the city of Los Angeles, California. They moved to Los Angeles from Saddle River, New Jersey.
Simmons and her husband officially separated in March 2006, saying the couple had split some time before, but still lived together. They would continue to work together on Phat Farm and Baby Phat clothing lines.
By March 2007, Simmons was dating actor and model Djimon Hounsou. In March 2008 she officially filed for divorce from Russell Simmons, which was finalized in January 2009. She gave birth to a baby boy with Hounsou in May 2009, named Kenzo Lee Hounsou.
She established the Kimora Lee Simmons Scholarship Fund at her high school alma mater in St. Louis to provide college tuition support for academically successful girls with financial needs and is an active member of youth advocacy organizations including Amfar, The G&P Foundation, Keep a Child Alive, Hetrick Martin Institute and Rush Philanthropic where she is on the Board of Directors. The mayor of St. Louis presented Simmons the key to the city and named March 18, 2008 Kimora Day in St. Louis.
Simmons is childhood friends with Tyra Banks.
For Fall 2012 designers are inspired by a wide range of influences, from the elaborate details of brocade and metallic gold embellishments to the dynamic mix of military chic and power pantsuits. Colo