Kimora Lee Simmons

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Kimora Lee Simmons
KimoraLeeSimmons at Push Premiere.jpg
Leissner at the Push premiere in January 2009
Kimora Lee Perkins[1]

(1975-05-04) May 4, 1975 (age 46)
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Other namesKimora Lee Leissner
  • Businesswoman
  • fashion designer
  • TV personality
  • author
  • model
Years active1988–present
(m. 1998; div. 2009)

Tim Leissner
(m. 2013)
Partner(s)Djimon Hounsou (2007–12)
Modeling information
Height6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Hair colorblack
Eye colorBrown

Kimora Lee Leissner (previously Simmons, née Perkins; born May 4, 1975)[2] is an American entrepreneur, fashion designer, TV personality, author, philanthropist and model.

Early life[edit]

Kimora Lee Perkins was born in St. Louis, Missouri[3][4] and spent her early life in the northern St. Louis suburb of Florissant, Missouri. She is of African-American and Korean heritage. Nearly 6 feet tall by age 10, she was teased because of her height.[5]

To boost her confidence because of her height, Kimora’s mother enrolled her in a modeling class when she was eleven years old.



At age 13, Perkins signed a modeling contract with Chanel and under the tutelage of Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld.

Simmons helped inspire Lagerfeld's creative vision and call for racial inclusion, and paved the way for other mixed race models in the fashion world. Lagerfeld deemed her the "Face of the 21st Century".[6]

She gained attention in the fashion world when she closed Lagerfeld's haute couture show in 1989 as the "bride" – the concluding bridal look signature to every Chanel show under Lagerfeld’s tenure

Simmons later modeled for Fendi, Valentino, Emanuel Ungaro, Christian Dior, Roberto Cavalli, Kenzo, Anna Sui, Geoffrey Beene, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Baby Phat by Kimora Lee Simmons and Phat Fashions[edit]

In 1998, Simmons' then husband, music mogul and entrepreneur, Russell Simmons, was at the helm of "Phat Farm", an urban menswear brand. Simmons created a parallel women’s brand, "Baby Phat by Kimora Lee Simmons", under the umbrella of "Phat Fashions".[7]

Simmons stepped in as Baby Phat's designer, creating a collection based on what she would wear.[8]

In 2000, Simmons was appointed president and creative director of the Baby Phat brand. In 2001, Baby Phat reported gross revenue earnings of $30 million.[9] By 2002 Phat Farm and Baby Phat had made a combined profit of $265 million.[10]

In 2004, the Kellwood Company purchased Phat Fashions for $140 million. Simmons stayed on as President and Creative Director of Baby Phat, expanding the label into a "lifestyle brand" with denim, accessories, jewelry, swimwear, fragrance and lingerie categories.

Later that year, the label expanded to selling a custom Motorola i833 mobile phone sold exclusively at Bloomingdale's and partnered with Vida Shoes International, Inc. to create a shoe line.[11]

In 2006, she was named president of parent company Phat Fashions. In 2007, Phat fashions partnered with Silver Goose/Kidstreet to create an infant and toddler accessory line.

In 2008 the Kellwood Company sold a majority stake in Phat Fashions to Sun Capital Partners, after which Simmons left Phat Fashions in 2010.

In 2019 Simmons announced she had reacquired the Baby Phat brand and in August 2020 she announced Baby Phat Beauty line curated by her daughters Ming Lee and Aoki Lee.

Entrepreneurship and eponymous collections[edit]


In 2005, Baby Phat by Kimora Lee Simmons collaborated with Coty Inc. to launch its first-ever fragrance, Baby Phat Goddess which was carried by department stores including Sears and Macy’s. Baby Phat Goddess was then joined by Golden Goddess, Seductive Goddess, Baby Phat Fabulosity, Luv Me and Baby Phat Dare Me. After Simmons' exit as President of Phat Fashions in 2010, she retained ownership of all licensing rights for her fragrance and cosmetics collection.


Simmons created the Simmons Jewelry Company to market jewelry items under the Phat Farm and Baby Phat labels, which resulted in Simmons's "Diamond Diva" line of jewelry.[12] She then partnered with pop culture icon, Hello Kitty owned by Sanrio Ltd., in 2006 to launch “Kimora Lee Simmons for Hello Kitty” in Neiman Marcus. The Hello Kitty collection by Kimora Lee was expanded in 2008 with another collection of jewelry and watches being released in conjunction with the Zales Corporation.

KLS Cosmetics[edit]

In May 2006 Simmons launched KLS Cosmetics with beauty giant Sephora and Macy’s stores. The collection consisted of color cosmetics and fragrances.[13]

Fabulosity designed by Kimora Lee Simmons[edit]

Simmons created a line for JCPenney in 2008, which combined the two worlds she knows best—high fashion and hip hop. Fabulosity was merchandised at JCPenney as an urban lifestyle offering in Juniors with a complete sportswear line that featured tees, knit tops and sweaters, jeans, skirts and dresses, as well as hoodies, jackets and outerwear.[14]

KLS Fashion Collection and Kouture by Kimora[edit]

In 2010 Simmons launched her contemporary KLS fashion collection, which retailed to department stores like Macy’s. In tandem, the designer and creative director launched Kouture by Kimora, a brand of under $40 clothes exclusively for Macy’s. "I wanted to do something that spoke to a different market for Macy's. It sits in a different section. I wanted this to be crossover. I wanted this to be colorless and really about fashion. And it's what I call recession-proof. It's really important to say that,” said Simmons.[15]

Shinto Clinical[edit]

Simmons launched her own anti-aging skincare line with Swiss skincare company Makari de Suisse in 2011.[16] The anti-aging line was geared toward multi-ethnic women and consisted of plumpers and products to keep moisture in the skin.

Just Fab[edit]

Simmons announced a new position as President and Creative Director for Just Fab, a personalized shopping website which she ran until 2015. Kimora skyrocketed JustFab into the fashion subscription stratosphere. With Kimora Lee Simmons’s direction, JustFab offered individualized boutiques to monthly subscribers who had completed an online fashion assessment. Just Fab and Kimora Lee Simmons made it easy for anyone to be fashionable by creating entire on-trend looks, which gave women of all fashion tastes the ability to affordably make their home closet their dream closet.

KIMORA LEE SIMMONS High Fashion Collection[edit]

Simmons launched her new, evolved KIMORA LEE SIMMONS women’s designer line, featuring Italian fabrics and handmade embellishments. This marked the first time Kimora entered the luxury American designer category. The KIMORA LEE SIMMONS collection was picked up by Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor, Farfetch and a network of boutiques nationwide.

Entrepreneurship & investment portfolio[edit]

Simultaneously, Simmons instituted her venture portfolio of new and innovative businesses in the fields of (i) fashion (KLS and Baby Phat clothing), entertainment (All Def Media and Screenbid), (ii) technology (Sentient Technologies, Contra Software and Friendsurance), (iii) sports (Inter Milan and the Association of Volleyball Professionals) as well as (iv) consumer goods including Codage, an advanced technical skin care line in France, Pureform Global, the first manufacturer of non-cannabis, non-hemp, all natural CBD products, and Celisus, a “clean energy” negative calorie drink acquired in 2015. In Spring 2019 she co-launched Pellequr, a Beverly Hills spa.

Re-acquisition of Baby Phat by Kimora Lee Simmons[edit]

On International Women’s Day on March 8, 2019, Simmons delivered the keynote address at the launch of the “She Innovates” initiative led by the UN Women and the Gender Innovation Coalition for Change (GICC). There, and to Bloomberg News, she officially leaked the news with a business announcement of her own – the reacquisition and forthcoming return of her ultra-iconic streetwear brand, Baby Phat by Kimora Lee Simmons.

The brand will re-emerge in the Summer 2019 season with an exciting collaboration and then debut a signature collection during Fall 2019. Simmons said to WWD: “The relaunch of Baby Phat will be comprised of a “mainstream sportswear” collection for millennials targeted to the mid-tier retail level.

It’s perfect timing for this,” Simmons continued to WWD “Over the past several years, we realized (Baby Phat) resonates with people and lives deep in their souls.” And young people like her 16- and 19-year-olds (Ming Lee and Aoki Lee) have a “need for messaging” that is similar to what Baby Phat represented in its prime, and still can today.[17]



Simmons has long been passionate about supporting AIDS research via amfAR (the American Foundations for AIDS Research). Simmons attended Lionel Richie’s performance to benefit amfAR at Cipriani Wall Street in April 2006 in NYC, and then the 'Cinema Against AIDS 2006', the annual event in aid of amfAR at Le Moulin de Mougins during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival in May 2006.

Rush Philanthropic[edit]

In addition, Simmons is instrumental at the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, serving on the Board of Directors and as the host of the 2011 Annual ‘Art for Life’ Fundraiser in the Hamptons. This event raised money for the RUSH Philanthropic charity that supports arts programs for inner city kids. Grammy-winning singer Jennifer Hudson performed before a star-studded audience filled with famous faces, including Mary J. Blige, Taraji P. Henson, Star Jones, and LaLa Anthony. Hip hop violinist Miri Ben-Ari also kept guests entertained throughout the evening.[18]

Hetrick Martin Institute – Harvey Milk School[edit]

Since 2009 Simmons has hosted the annual red carpet gala celebration supporting Hetrick-Martin and its tribute to gay rights activist, Harvey Milk. According to its mission statement, HMI, home of New York's Harvey Milk High School, "believes all young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential. Hetrick-Martin creates this environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth between the ages of 12 and 21 and their families."[19]

Simmons is also a supporter of The G&P Foundation and Keep a Child Alive.

The Kimora Lee Simmons Scholarship Fund[edit]

Simmons has a long history of philanthropy establishing and sponsoring programs at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in NYC and the Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in LA. Simmons personally donated one million dollars of her own money to students pursuing careers in fashion. Speaking to FIT students in 2014, Simmons said, “I’m from St. Louis, Missouri, for those of you that may not know, and growing up in St. Louis, the fashion industry always felt so far away, like millions of miles away,” she said. “I always knew that I wanted to be a part of it, but I never really imagined how to make that happen for myself, and I imagine that’s the case for maybe a lot of you.”[20]

The Unmentionables[edit]

Named Global Ambassador for non-profit group ‘The Unmentionables’ in 2016,[21] Simmons and her family have done extensive work to support refugees and in-crisis migrant women and children fleeing violence and natural disasters. Simmons has worked to provide refugees protection from exploitation and trafficking, utilizing her business acumen and passion for empowering others while becoming a powerful voice for human rights.

Simmons and her family traveled to Texas to help with organization’s relief efforts following Hurricane Harvey in Summer 2017. She also has helped to fund the distribution of reusable hygienic products and feminine supplies. In Summer 2018, Simmons-Leissner traveled with her family to Greece to contribute efforts to migrant and refugee families, providing training, supplies and education to the refugee community as they entered Europe.[22]

UN Women[edit]

In 2018 Simmons joined The Global Innovation Coalition for Change (GICC) in partnership with UN Women to drive industry-wide change and advance women and girls in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. She currently serves as a Global Innovator for Change as an active supporter for gender equality in the workplace and as addressed the UN Women and GICC groups for the launch of its Gender Innovation Principles in September 2018 and of its “She Innovates” call to action on International Women’s Day in March 2019.

Children of Kimora Lee Simmons
  • By Russell Simmons
    • Ming Lee (born 2000)
    • Aoki Lee (born 2002)
  • By Djimon Hounsou
    • Kenzo Lee (born 2009)
  • By Tim Leissner
    • Wolfe Lee (born 2015)

Freedom Shield Foundation[edit]

Simmons and her family pledged their support to Freedom Shield Foundation in 2019, and organization which rescue thousands of women and children from human trafficking and provide advanced trauma care to the survivors whom we rescue. They also provide training and resources to those involved in the fight against trafficking both nationally and internationally.

Personal life[edit]

Kimora Lee Perkins married Russell Simmons in December 1998. They have two daughters, Ming Lee Simmons (born January 2000) and Aoki Lee Simmons (born August 2002). The couple separated in 2006 and later divorced.

Simmons was in a relationship with actor and former model Djimon Hounsou. In May 2009, Simmons gave birth to their son Kenzo Lee Hounsou. Their relationship ended in 2012.

In February 2014, Simmons confirmed that she had married Tim Leissner, a former Goldman Sachs banker convicted for his involvement in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal.[23][24] Leissner allegedly personally stole some $200 million from 1MDB.[25] Simmons gave birth in April 2015 to their son, Wolfe Lee Leissner.[26]

Simmons went back to school in 2017 to complete her business degree, announcing her graduation from the University of Hartford in June 2018, the same week as her eldest daughter, Ming Lee, graduated from high school. Mother and daughter celebrated their achievement together.[27]

In January 2020 Kimora adopted 10 year old Gary Lee, making her a mother of five.



In 1998 Simmons took on her first TV personality role, hosting ‘One World Music Beat’.[28] In 2004 she hosted the syndicated talkshow, ‘Life and Style,’ for Sony Pictures Television, which filmed in front of a live studio audience. Past hosts include Tracee Ellis Ross, Gisele Bündchen, Marcia Cross and more. Kimora also took part in several specials for VH1 titled ‘Uncut New York Fashion Week’ and ‘Party Fabulous.’

In 2003 Simmons served as a judge on Season 1 of America’s Next Top Model, alongside Tyra Banks, and also judged the franchise’s ‘Germany’s Next Top Model’ as well.

Showcasing Simmons' life as a businesswoman who balances her family life, she was the focal star of The Style Network’s top-rated show “Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane,” which also syndicated on E! Television Network and viewed in more than 200 global territories.

This first-of-its-kind reality show debuted in 2007 and lasted for seven seasons with tremendous popularity. Simmons herself served as Producer for 4 episodes in 2007 and then as Executive Producer for another 10 episodes between 2009-2010.

“Kimora: House of Fab” debuted in 2013 in tandem with Simmons' tenure at JustFab. She also served as Executive Producer for each episode which aired on the Style Network.


Kimora Lee Simmons produced Def Poetry Jam, on Broadway for which she won a Tony Award in 2003 for a “Special Theatrical Event.”[29]


Her 2006 book “Fabulosity: What It Is and How to Get It” was published by Harper Entertainment and garnered strong reviews as a lifestyle manual from such publications as the Washington Post and Boston Globe.


Simmons has appeared in multiple roles in television and films including Beauty Shop, Brown Sugar, and Waist Deep. She has also appeared in music videos for Ginuwine, Usher and Jay-Z and in video games.


  1. ^ "Kimora Lee Leissner Biography". Archived from the original on 2015-05-27. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  2. ^ "Russell's Hip-Hip Birthday Gift". People. April 26, 2004. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  3. ^ Stephen M. Silverman with Tiffany McGee (March 31, 2006) Russell, Kimora Lee Simmons Split People. Accessed 2007-12-20.
  4. ^ 'Fabulosity,' by Kimora Lee Simmons Archived 2007-11-12 at the Wayback Machine (review January 22, 2006) Accessed 2007-12-20.
  5. ^ "40 Under 40 - Kimora Lee Simmons". Crain's New York Business. 2003-01-01. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  6. ^ "Meet JustFab President Kimora Lee Simmons - JustFab TV". Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  7. ^ "Russell Simmons' Apparel Line, Phat Farm, Died Long Before His Reputation". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  8. ^ "40 Under 40 - Kimora Lee Simmons". Crain's New York Business. 2003-01-01. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  9. ^ Golus, Carrie, 1969- (2012). Russell Simmons : from Def Jam to super rich. Minneapolis, MN: Twenty-First Century Books. ISBN 978-0-7613-8858-6. OCLC 778785644.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Icons of Black America : breaking barriers and crossing boundaries. Whitaker, Matthew C. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood. 2011. ISBN 978-0-313-37643-6. OCLC 781709336.CS1 maint: others (link)
  11. ^ "Kimora Lee Simmons - Entered The Fashion Design Business". Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  12. ^ "Kimora Lee Simmons - Entered The Fashion Design Business". Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  13. ^ "Kimora Lee Simmons Celebrates The Launch Of Her New Makeup Line Kls Cosmetics Pictures and Photos - Getty Images". Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  14. ^ "Fabulosity Designed by Kimora Lee Simmons Launches Exclusively At JCPenney". J. C. Penney Company, Inc. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  15. ^ Lo, Danica (2010-05-17). "Kimora Lee Simmons Launches Kouture Juniors' Line at Macy's". Racked. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  16. ^ Clinical, Shinto. "Kimora Lee Simmons Debuts Shinto Clinical Skin Care Line". Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  17. ^ Palmieri, Jean E. (2019-03-08). "Kimora Lee Simmons Buys Baby Phat, Plans for Relaunch". WWD. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  18. ^ "Stars Support Art for Life". Essence. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  19. ^ "Hetrick-Martin Institute Gala: Cory Booker, Veronica Webb, Lance Bass And More! (PHOTOS, VIDEO)". HuffPost. 2010-03-18. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  20. ^ Nast, Condé. "Kimora Lee Simmons Establishes $1 Million Scholarship Fund". Vogue. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  21. ^ "Kimora Lee Simmons Joins Intimate Health Nonprofit The Unmentionables as Lead Global Ambassador". Color Magazine. 2018-04-04. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  22. ^ "On World Refugee Day Kimora Lee Simmons Brings Awareness To Child Exploitation And Trafficking". HelloBeautiful. 2018-06-20. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  23. ^ "Kimora Lee Simmons has married Tim Leissner, Russell Simmons says". Los Angeles Times. 2014-02-20. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  24. ^ Crow, David; Noonan, Laura (December 23, 2018). "Tim Leissner: Goldman Sachs banker at the heart of 1MDB scandal". Financial Times.
  25. ^ Hale, Kori. "Goldman Sachs Takes A $1 Billion Hit Due To Ex-Hip Hop Banker". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-12-29.
  26. ^ "It's a Boy! Kimora Lee Simmons Welcomes Son Wolfe". Us Weekly. 2015-04-14. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  27. ^ "Kimora Lee Simmons Earns College Degree as Daughter Ming Lee Graduates High School". Us Weekly. 2018-06-24. Retrieved 2019-11-30.
  28. ^ One World Music Beat, retrieved 2019-11-30
  29. ^ "Kimora Lee Simmons | TV Guide". Retrieved 2019-11-30.

External links[edit]