NEW YORK — Kimora Lee Simmons believes strongly in the brands that bear her name — from her fragrance to her, um, underwear.
And Simmons, who appeared at Macy’s Herald Square flagship last Friday night to promote Baby Phat Goddess, her first scent, was prepared to prove it. “I wear the fragrance, the clothes, the underwear — I wish I could show [the underwear] to you, because it’s fabulous,” said Simmons, who sat down with WWD in a conference room draped in pink.
She wasn’t shy about hawking her other products, however. “We’ve just come out with fashion watches,” Simmons said, pointing to a pink watch on her wrist. She is producing color cosmetics with her own company, KLS, and has just launched that line’s first stockkeeping units — $16 lip glosses — on her Web site, babyphat.com.
Simmons said she’s just getting started as far as products bearing her name go: in addition to existing licenses for fragrances, jewelry, apparel, lingerie, footwear and watches, she’s got her sights set on the children’s market, first with a kids’ fragrance.
“I told [Lancaster] that I need Baby Goddess,” said Simmons, adding that her two daughters, ages three and five, clamor to be spritzed with grown-up Goddess — although she admits that it’s a bit strong for the preschool set. “I’m going to work on a baby fragrance, even if you won’t give it to me,” said Simmons, turning to Dennis Keough, vice president of marketing for Lancaster U.S., her fragrance licensee. “It will be watered down, though. My little girls make me spray it on them, and it’s so strong — but they love it.”
Simmons also plans to help her husband, Russell Simmons, work on his men’s fragrance, which is in development at Lancaster. “I told him, if you need help, I’m there for you,” she said, adding that the scent, which her husband described recently as “spiritual,” is also “a crossover scent. [I told him] I care that you’re passionate about your message, but also that people get it,” she said. “If I get it, everyone will get it. It is spiritual in his mind, but don’t worry, it isn’t kooky. It’s mainstream. It’s not Gandhi with a fragrance.”
Speaking of Russell, his wife is quick to dispel the myth that her husband has picked out any of her highly conspicuous jewelry collection. “I don’t think he has ever bought me a piece of jewelry in his life. He did buy me a diamond pendant about a year ago from Kmart — it was 10 carats, I mean, 10-karat gold,” she said with a laugh. “My wedding ring, when he gave it to me, was just a diamond. Not set. He told me to go and do it — said, ‘Take this. Will you marry me?'” Not that it bothered Simmons, who designed her 30-carat Asscher-cut diamond ring herself. “Like goddesses everywhere, when a man throws a diamond at you, you say ‘Thank you,'” she said.
In fact, when it comes to accessories, Simmons takes full credit for her extensive holdings, thank you. “I am a hardworking woman and a mother of two,” she said. “I provide myself with these luxuries. That’s not to say that when bill-paying time comes around that [Russell] does not chip in — for that I appreciate him — but he does not pick out my jewelry.”
But it doesn’t look like Simmons will have problems paying the bills anytime soon — the scent is ranking in the top 10 in Macy’s doors, said Micheline Jordaan, vice president and divisional merchandise manager of fragrances for Macy’s East. “It’s fun and pink with lots of bling,” she said. “It’s very Kimora. Not only is the bottle great, the outer carton is great as well. It stands out from the assortment we carry.”
Celebrity fragrances continue to gain strength in Macy’s doors, Jordaan noted, adding that Macy’s is having “a very good season” in fragrances. “These fragrances are drawing a new customer — a teenager — into the store, but many of the fragrances have broad appeal, including Goddess — so they appeal to our core customer as well.”
And Lancaster plans to build on that strength, said Keough, who confirmed that Goddess would gain a seasonal spinoff, or a flanker fragrance, for holiday 2006. “It’s going to be a seasonal offering, a very festive and sparkly interpretation of the concept — as if [the bottle] doesn’t already sparkle enough, we’re going to jazz it up even more,” said Keough. He also noted that he was ordering extra supplies of the Goddess bottle’s bling, a rhinestone ring that slips around the neck of the bottle.
“We had to supply the field with tons of backup [rings] because with every tester put out, [the ring is] gone within an hour,” Keough said ruefully.
And Simmons plans to make sure that her success continues. “It’s kind of a dream come true, we’re number one, which says a lot to all of you who look like me,” she said to the crowd Friday night. “Normally, we don’t have things that are number one in a big store like this.”
The appearance was said to do about $18,000 in retail sales. Customers who had participated in a preselling campaign for a $93.50 set that included a 3.4 -oz. fragrance, a body lotion and a shower gel, were guaranteed the opportunity to meet Simmons. Altogether, Simmons is said to have signed bottles for more than 200 customers, although several hundred more were on hand to catch a glimpse of the outspoken designer. The event was Simmons’ first U.S. personal appearance for her new scent.
“I think that people get Goddess,” said Simmons. “I feel good about myself — unapologetically so — and I want other women to feel the same way. I want other women to know that I am saluting the goddess in everyone. My fragrance is a way to say thank you.”