Kimora Lee Simmons ’18 will deliver the University of Hartford’s 2018 Ellsworth Lecture, “From Fashion to Finance: How to Shape Your Business Success.” She is a current UHart student working toward a bachelor of undergraduate studies.
Simmons has had a successful career as a fashion model, creative director, fashion and lifestyle entrepreneur, and philanthropist. She is currently founder and CEO of KLS Holdings LLC and the KIMORA LEE SIMMONS designer brand. She is a vocal proponent of diversity and inclusion, particularly regarding women in business. Simmons also debuted as an author with the publication of Fabulosity: What It Is and How to Get It, a lifestyle guide for young women who aspire to fabulous high-style success in all areas of life.
A native of St. Louis, Mo., Simmons began her career as a fashion model at the early age of 13, when she was personally chosen by well-known fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld as his muse for the house of Chanel in Paris. Her success as a runway model gave her an innate sense of style that propels her as a fashion designer.
As the instrumental force behind her brand’s creative designs and business strategies,
Simmons has taken her renowned business acumen and passion for her work to launch products across numerous categories including apparel, handbags and accessories, jewelry, fragrance, cosmetics, and skincare. As a venture capitalist, she manages KLS Holdings and its dynamic portfolio, which encompasses fashion, beauty, technology, nutrition, and fitness.
Simmons has also made her mark in Hollywood. Her upbeat, fun, and charismatic personality keeps her in demand as a media personality and lifestyle authority. She has hosted E!’s Fashion Police, CBS’s The Talk, and MTV’s Cribs, appeared as a judge on America’s Next Top Model, and went on to produce and star in Style Network’s highest rated series, Life in the Fab Lane. Additionally, she received Broadway’s top honor—a 2003 Tony award for her work as executive producer of the critically acclaimed Def Poetry Jam on Broadway.
An enthusiastic philanthropist and patron of the arts, Simmons lends her time and support to numerous charitable organizations, especially those institutions that target disadvantaged youth. She established the Kimora Lee Simmons Scholarship Fund with New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology and Los Angeles’ Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising for students who aspire to pursue careers in all areas of the fashion industry. She is also the global ambassador for The Unmentionables—a nonprofit committed to providing education and resources to refugees and other displaced populations. She also lends her time and resources to the Hetrick-Martin Institute, Dress for Success, and Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, where she is on the board of directors.
Margaret Greenberg, who delivered the University’s 2017 Corine T. Norgaard Women in Leadership Lecture, will moderate and there will be Q and A allowed from the audience. The Ellsworth Lecture will take place in Millard Auditorium on the University’s Bloomfield Avenue campus from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on March 26, 2018. Attendance is free, however space is limited and attendees must register.