Kimora Lee Simmons, the New Queen of Conspicuous Consumption

Photo: Andrew McKim

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.


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.

Karl Lagerfeld, the Chanel designer, said of Kimora, "This girl represents the nineties."Photo: Pierre Gleizes/AP Photo

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 11⁄2-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.

Her Designs
Photos of recent Baby Phat collections

Kimora Lee Simmons, the New Queen of Conspicuous […]