It seems that Kelly Killoren Bensimon, the newest addition to Bravo’s Real Housewives of New York City cast (the second season, which is now filming, will air sometime in 2009), is at once the most and least qualified woman to be on the show. A longtime fixture on the Manhattan and Hamptons social scenes, the former model used to be married to fashion photographer and longtime Elle creative director Gilles Bensimon and has been a columnist for Hamptons and Page Six magazines. But, as she told the Daily Transom, “I’m not really a housewife. I own a house, but I’m not a wife.”
She also rejects the “socialite” tag, one that her co-stars and Bravo seem eager to associate with the series. “I am not a socialite. I don’t want people calling me a socialite because I’m not," she said. "A socialite is someone that goes to parties. I go to parties, but because I’m covering them for Page Six, or I went before because I was the accessories editor of Elle. I’m not really a socialite.”
Well, we wondered, what was she doing on the show? “I have a lot of different businesses and things that I’m working on and I thought it would be fun to explore. You know, I have a great life and I wanted people see what I do and where I go and who I hang out with.”
Fair enough, we thought, as we were speaking with Ms. Bensimon at a small get-together at East 12th St.’s Owl’s Lab boutique in honor of her new jewelry line. Citing the actress and style icon Talitha Getty as one of her inspirations (“She was the ultimate hedonistic woman. She was incredibly beautiful but really playful and fun. She had a really great, serious life but she didn’t take it so seriously”), Ms. Bensimon told us her time on the editorial side of the fashion industry was the main motivator for the project: “I was one of the editors of Elle Accessories…Here I was–this editor–and I was supposed to tell everyone here’s how you mix it up. I was a New York fashion person who was supposed to tell you how to operate and dress. And then I became the ambassador for WOOL and I traveled the country and I went into all these different stores and I was like, wait a minute, you can buy any great beauty product you want, but you can’t buy any accessories for under a hundred dollars? So I decided I wanted to start a jewelry line.”
As for the line’s aesthetic, she said: “I just wanted a medallion kind of feeling, that very Italian Riviera, vacation destination feeling. I liked the idea of heirloom pieces that are rooted with integrity.”
And how was she getting along with her castmates (none of whom were at the party) so far? “Each one of them has a strong, definitive character that I like," she said. "[Countess] LuAnn [de Lesseps] and I get along because we’re both similar in a lot of ways. We have kind of similar backgrounds. I like Ramona [Singer] a lot–I’m really impressed by her and the way that she works. Jill [Zarin], I like her enthusiasm and Alex [McCord], she’s a lovely mom. I like that Bethenny [Frankel] is hardworking. Each one has their own thing and that’s what New York is. It’s a melting pot, not just one type.”
We also asked Ms. Bensimon to tell us about her experiences with the ladies at New York Fashion Week, which she had mentioned in her Page Six Magazine column: “Well, I didn’t really take them all to Fashion Week. We went to one Russell Simmons show and I took LuAnn to one show, so it wasn’t really me with, like, five other women. I wouldn’t really do that. If they wanted to go–if we were all going to the same show, that’s fine, but shows are really serious for me. I’m there for a reason. I’m there to support my friends. It’s not something that I just will bring—I’m not just going to bring people to a show. It was fun to take LuAnn. It was great! You know, I’m not Anna Wintour! I can’t be like, let me just bring 10 people with me!”
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