Kimora Lee Simmons is a former model who was also the CEO of Baby Phat, a subsidiary of Phat Fashions, which was created by her ex-husband, Russell Simmons. She currently goes by the name Kimora Lee Leissner following her marriage to Tim Leissner, a former Goldman Sachs banker, in 2013.
The fashion entrepreneur, who is famed for producing high-end female urban wear after a successful career on the runway, is also an actress, and also stars in her own reality television series titled ‘Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane’.
Here is all you need to know about her fabulous life, including biography, marriages, and relationships, as well as her ethnicity.
Kimora Lee Simmons Bio, Ethnicity
Kimora Lee was born Kimora Lee Perkins in St. Louis, Missouri on the 4th of May, 1975 to a Korean-born mother who worked as a social security administrator and an African-American father who worked as a Federal Marshall, a bail bondsman and later on in life as a barber. She is of mixed ancestry but her nationality is American. Her mother, Joanne Perkins, who was born in Korea, is half Japanese and half African-American while her father, Vernon Whitlock Jnr., is African American.
She attended Lutheran North High School in St. Louis, Missouri, where she got bullied a lot because of her height, frame, and mixed ancestry. In a bid to build her confidence and also utilize her natural physique appropriately, Kimora’s mother enrolled her in a modeling class when she was just 11 years old. At this point, Kimora was 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall.
It took Kimora two years to master what would turn out to be the best decision of her mother’s life as she got awarded an exclusive modeling contract from French fashion house, Chanel. The teenager, who had just turned 14 when she was required to move to Paris to work under renowned Chanel designer, Karl Lagerfeld, made it big to become a sensation in the fashion industry. She, along with three other young models was known as “the four Karl-ettes”, as she became a self-proclaimed muse of the designer.
Not one to restrict herself, Kimora also walked the runway for other designers, including Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Fendi, and Emanuel Ungaro. She was also featured heavily in magazines, most notably on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Magazine.
In an interview with People Weekly Magazine, Kimora Lee Simmons was so proud of what she had achieved with her God-given body which had brought her a lot of criticism as a child. During this time, Kimora Lee Simmons built life-long relationships with many people, including fellow runway model, Tyra Banks.
Following her exploits on the runway, Kimora delved into entrepreneurship which started shortly after her marriage to Russell Simmons. She was in charge of designing and creating baby clothing from his original Phat Farm clothing line. The new subsidiary was launched in 1999 with the name Baby Phat which she served as director and president of until it was sold and she left in 2010. She has gone on to create and work with numerous other companies which include JustFab and Diamond Diva among many others.
Kimora also went into acting, appearing in small roles in films like Beauty Shop and Waist Deep as well music videos. She went ahead to star in her own reality TV show and has also appeared as a judge on America’s Next Top Model.
Family – Parents, Kids, Husband
At around the age of 17, during New York City’s Fashion Week, Kimora met 35-year-old music mogul, Russell Simmons. The two reportedly flirted with each other before beginning an on-again-off-again relationship that lasted for six years. The couple eventually exchanged vows in the December of 1998 in a ceremony on the island of St. Barth that was officiated by Russell’s brother, Joey “Rev Run” Simmons of the Run-D.M.C. hip-hop group. The couple was blessed with two daughters; Ming Lee Simmons who was born on January 21, 2000, and Aoki Lee Simmons who was born on August 16, 2002. In March 2006, Kimora and Russell announced their separation. Their divorce was finalized in January 2009.
Before divorce proceedings were completed, Kimora began dating actor Djimon Hounsou. The two, despite numerous publications reporting that they were married, never exchanged vows but performed a traditional commitment ceremony in Hounsou’s home country of Benin Republic. In May 2009, they welcomed a son, Kenzo Lee Hounsou. They separated in November 2002.
She is currently married to Tim Leissner with whom she has a baby boy named Wolfe Lee Leissner, born in April 2015.
Quick Facts – Height, Occupation
Birth Name: Kimora Lee Perkins
Place of Birth: St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Date of Birth: May 4, 1975 (age 42)
Occupation: Model, Designer, Actress
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Hair Color: Dark brown
Eye Color: Brown
Marital Status: Married
Spouse: Tim Leissner (m. 2013)