updated 13 Apr 2011, 10:15
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Mon, Mar 07, 2011
The New Paper
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Fab Mum's tough love in the spotlight
by Joanne Soh

KIMORA Lee Simmons isn't afraid to be branded a Tiger Mum.

The self-professed disciplinarian is open about the strict rules she sets for her daughters Ming, 11, and Aoki, 8, from her previous marriage to media and fashion mogul Russell Simmons.

She also has a 15-month-old boy Kenzo with actor Djimon Hounsou, 46, whom she wed in 2008.

"I'm very tough...when it comes to raising my kids. My mother brought me up this way and I don't see why I can't raise my children the same way too," she told The New Paper over the phone from Los Angeles.

The 35-year-old fashion designer and reality-TV star of Korean, Japanese and African-American descent credits her Asian upbringing for instilling the drive forsuccess.

"I'm Asian and we're all over-achievers," she said with a laugh.

Simmons and her brood will be on TV as part of the latest season of Kimora: Life In The Fab Lane. Thefourth season of the popular reality show airs on E!Entertainment Television (StarHub TV Channel 441) every Monday at 8.30pm.

Strict rules

Simmons said her children attend school seven days a week - they get private tuition on weekends - and, like any Asian mum, she emphasises their academic growth.

Telly time is limited to about 30 minutes aday, and they only watch documentaries, foreign films and nature programmes. Her kids don't even watch their own show.

Her daughters are straight-A students, she said proudly.

Yet, despite her girls being reality-TV fixtures, Simmons insists that they're enjoying every minute of their childhood.

"We do many fun things together as a family, like going to the movies and theatres," she said. "My family is raised in the spotlight, and I'm not ashamed of what I do."

To protect her children's privacy, however, she does draw a line on where the cameras can go.

No filming is allowed in the girls' school, and her children can't be "stalked" by cameramen.

Simmons happily pointed out that her girls are following her footsteps and already have plans to start their own fashion business.

"They're very opinionated about their own wardrobe...Thank goodness they wear uniforms!" she said. The proud mummy added that her daughters have their own sewing machines and they use the many pieces of scrap cloths they have at home to "cut and sew their own designs".

As evident in the show, Simmons is one busy person.

Having been in the fashion industry since she was 13 when she became fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld's muse, Simmons has worked hard to be the celebrity that she is now.

The former creative director of fashion brand Baby Phat is now developing her own fashion empire KLS.

But despite her busy schedule of fashion shows and charity events, Kimora maintains that her No. 1 priority is being a mother.

"I'm a very hands-on mum. I take my kids to school, I pack their lunches, I run after them to give them their coats," she said.

She claimed she doesn't even rely on baby-sitters, though she does have help from time to time. And she hopes to be a role model to all working mothers, with the message that everyone can have a "glamorous lifestyle".

She explained: "Certainly, being fabulous is necessary in my industry, but any working mother can be sexy too.

"It's a state of mind."


This article was first published in The New Paper.


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