Published: Sunday, April 9, 2006
Standing over six feet in her stilettos and fur bomber, Kimora Lee Simmons encountered a flashback of her speech classes in college as she told students they could be fierce and have it all. The president and creative director of Baby Phat, wife of hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, former model and now author signed copies of her new book, Fabulosity, at the packed Howard Bookstore yesterday.
“This is not my first time at Howard,” she said. “I always love the energy on this campus. I love to be around the thinkers and doers that are all over this place. I especially love being around people of color – all shades.”
Students, many in their finest Baby Phat, came to the bookstore event not only to get their copy of the book signed, but to hear what the entrepreneur, who is known for her extravagance, had to say on living fabulous.
“Her advice is good for both sexes,” said Andre Jackson, a senior political science major. “She touched on key points that I took to heart – stay focused, be self motivated and avoid distractions. I don’t think the Simmons empire will decrease anytime soon. She’s an icon.”
Other students came to capitalize on the rare opportunity to network with someone of her stature. While some whipped out modeling portfolios, freshman George Lander showed Simmons his runway walk in stilettos and was offered an internship on the spot.
Lander, and all those in attendance, may get a glimpse of themselves on one of the many media outlets that were present including Howard’s own WHUT, Fox 5, and VH1. Along with her new book, Simmons is also in her second week of taping for a reality T.V. show for VH1, which recorded the entire book signing.
“The response [to the book] has been insane,” said Lesley Prescott, VH1 story editor. “She’s great to work with. She has inspired so many people. We have a lot of good footage.”
After signing over 100 books and hearing everyone may not be able to get their book autographed, Simmons quickly responded she would sign the book of anyone who bought a copy.
“I feel like you guys know me already,” she said. “You wear my clothes. You inspire me. It’s a relationship. We’re fortunate to be here, to get educated, to write books.”
Howard students were not the only fans of Simmons to attend, as a few local teens came to campus for the special event.
Mariah Walton, a sophomore in high school from Simmon’s hometown, St. Louis, was on campus to tour her top college choice, when she saw fliers that her idol would be on campus.
“Just the other day I was saying how I look up to her a lot and now I actually get to meet her,” said Walton, who uses Simmons designs as models in her high school fashion class. “Her inner confidence inspires me. The fact that she is from where I’m from just makes me feel I can do it all even more.”
Before Simmons spoke to the crowd and signed books, she spoke to all of D.C. on radio station WKYS with Jeanie Jones with the show set up in the bookstore.
“The blue print [for the book] is my life,” she said to Jones. “Whenever you make or create you must be genuine. It must be something you know.”
Simmons’ words of inspiration were exactly what Monique Mozee, organizer of the event and bookstore marketing manager wanted students to hear.
“I care about what I feed my people,” she said. “Events like this are as much a part of the academic experience as the classes you take. Some people don’t have people at home to look up to and see that success like this is possible.”
Simmons’ book has received positive reviews, as her “philosophy of fabulosity” is more than a ‘how to’ for bling and flash.
In the book she says, “It’s about self-empowerment and self-reliance as much as it is about glitz, glamour, flamboyance, and fun.”