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New Kid on jo in s th e ca st of R ea l Housewives of New Yorkt


Kelly Killoren Bensimon
del-t ur ne d-m om Ke lly Ki llo
wives
to smile about. Bu
ren Bensimon has a lot of New York City for
es. An exciting career. Mo ned Bravo’s Real House
Good looks. Great parti ur. For this Manhattan mom — who recently joiple things that really matter. —Heather Corcoran
forget the glitz and glamo the show’s second seaso
n — it’s the sim

22 • Resident The Week Of March 3, 2009


T
Cover
his is our family issue, and
I know you’re the mother
of two little girls.Tell me a
little bit about your family?
I have two amazing girls; one
[Thadeus] is 8 and one [Sea]
is 10. I gave birth to both of
them in New York City and we
live between New York and the
Hamptons. They go to school
here, most of their activities are
here. They go to school uptown,
we live downtown …

Like a lot of Manhattan moms, you balance kids and a


career. How?
My career is like the new, modern career — I don’t work in an of-
fice, so I have a lot of flexibility. It’s basically taking everything that
comes this way and maximizing. For example, I started a magazine
called Elle Accessories, and I love accessories, so I decided to create
my own line, because I realized there was a huge void in the market.
Here I was, telling all these women across America, “Mix it up; be
a chameleon,” but really didn’t see that there were any options for
these woman to do that. So I decided to create a line of jewelry that
would make women, if they wanted to look like a ’70s rock star they
could do that, if they wanted to be more elegant like a ’50s movie
star, they could be like that. Just a line that was really my favorite
pieces, but that were fun and sexy and transitional.

Any tips for other mothers who are trying to


do it all?
I think one of the biggest things in order to bal-
ance work and family is to not try to balance work and
family. Just wake up in the morning and go for it and
have a good time. They say that you create your own
memories … so if I’m creating my own memories, I
don’t want to remember the bad ones. I’d rather have
fun. This morning we were reading all these little Rob-
ert Frost poems to my kids, and Mr. Peabody’s Apples, that
Madonna wrote.

Now you’re the newest cast member of the


Real Housewives of New York. How’d that
happen?
I was already in the Bravo family; I was up for

B&W photo credits: Seth Sabal; Real Housewives’ photo: Andrew Eccles
another show with Tim Gunn. Then the executive producer said,
“You know what, we would really love to explore your life.” So they
interviewed me and asked me to be one of the housewives. At first, I
hadn’t seen the show, so this whole idea of reality TV was something
that I thought was disingenuous, I didn’t think that it was really
true. I decided: If I’m going to be on the show, then I’m going to be
completely authentic and genuine, not watch the show, and just be
myself. I wanted to show other single, working moms, that you can
have it all. Having children and being single is a luxury. I don’t think
of it as baggage, I think of it as the ultimate luxury.

From top: Sea, Kelly and Thadeus “Teddy” Bensimon; a modeling shot;
the cover of Bensimon’s book on bikinis; with the cast of Real Housewives
of New York City.

Resident The Week Of March 3, 2009 • 23


Cover
Kelly Killoren Bensimon
Continued from page 22

The idea of totally being yourself, that’s really cool…


When people describe me, they always describe me as genuine.
That’s exactly who I am; there’s absolutely not one disingenuous
bone in my body. I’m very true to myself, to my friends. I’m nice to
Kelly’s Shopping List
the doorman; I’m nice to the president. I really couldn’t care less. I The fashionista share her picks for shopping and
react to you. If you’re nice to me; I’m nice to you. entertainment in New York and the Hamptons
You’re the first to say you’re not a housewife, or a
socialite. I love French Sole, I buy
They call me a socialite. I wrote a book on American style and all my shoes there. I really like
the ultimate American socialite is Nan Kempner. So if they’re saying Marc Jacobs a lot. I love
I’m like Nan Kempner … thank you! I don’t have a similar lifestyle Tracy Feith. I love Cartier,
to her, but I’m flattered that people think of me in a way that I’m except Cartier doesn’t love
representing New York’s social situation. I’m lucky enough to be able me, because their prices are
to go to all these fun parties, and meet these interesting people, so too expensive. I really like
that, I think, is lucky. I’m a luckyite; I’m not a socialite. Calypso. In the Hamptons, I
love the Monogram Shop; I
When you went on the show, did you have to prepare your love Ralph Lauren.
daughters at all? My kids, most of their
No. In fact, we walk down the street all the time, and I say to things are from Ralph Lauren.
them, “Does the show have anything to do with us walking down the I’m an American; I love the
street?” No. “Does the show have anything to do with how much I American family. Not neces-
love you?” No. “Does the show have anything to do with how much sarily super-traditional, but
we love our dogs?” No. “So what’s the big deal? It’s like when mom- always well-maintained and
my writes a book, does it have anything to do with Sea and Teddy?” well-groomed. I like when
No. “Am I doing anything that’s harmful or hurtful to myself or to kids always look neat.
others?” No. So we’re good. I have a very strong code. Every single year it’s my daughter’s birthday, we always go to
the Costume Institute and we always go through whatever
The second season is just starting to air. How do you fit in? show is happening at the Met. Afterwards we go to Hello
The one thing that’s great about the show is it really portrays one of Kitty. I take like eight of her friends and we get a car and we
the big luxuries about living in New York: that it is a melting pot and just fly all over the city going to all these fun spots. It’s just excit-
it is all these different walks of life. It shows Ramona from Rhinebeck, ing and educational. It’s exactly what New York is; these amazing
and it shows LuAnn from Connecticut, and it shows Jill from Long places in a sound bite.
Island, and it shows Bethenny from New York and me from outside of For a night on the town … I
Chicago. I think more exciting than getting along with the friends is like Delicatessen. One of my
just exploring New York through different eyes. That’s the most evoca- great friends owns this restaurant
tive character on New York Housewives, New York. Charles I love. I love Fat Cat, I
love to drink fun beer and play Ping-
How would you describe the other “wives?” Pong. I eat at the Mercer Kitchen
They’re Type-A, unique, dynamic individuals. That’s what New a lot, I like Lure. I like downtown;
York is filled with, and that’s what makes New York so exciting. It’s I like things that are more relaxing.
ever-changing and ever-evolving. Most people when they go out for
dinner, they’re all dressed up. I like
Having your life documented in the media, what lessons to wear jeans and a T-shirt. I just
do you hope your daughters learn by watching you? want to go someplace where I can
I hope that they see their mom not engaging in fodder and rising have something really yummy to
above it. I’m not snarky; I don’t gossip. If I don’t like something I’m eat and just enjoy the person that
very straightforward about it: I don’t like this, please change, or, let’s I’m with, because
move on. I’m like the non-housewife. I work, I live downtown, I’m that’s really why
with my kids all the time. I’m a different kind of housewife. I’m going out. My
favorite place to
Right now the recession is on everyone’s minds.You write go out is just to
a lot about New York and Hamptons society, how do you stay in, to stay in
see the recession affecting the city? with my kids.
I see this recession as an amazing opportunity to do things that
are important. Spend time with your kids, pick up your kids

24 • Resident The Week Of March 3, 2009


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Kelly Killoren Bensimon
Continued from page 24

Kelly with (l to r) Ally Shapiro and LuAnn de Lesseps; (right) at a fashion show.

instead of having someone else pick them up. Go to the local bar Now I’ve read your
and play a game of pool with your friends instead of going out to favorite question to ask in
dinner. Money doesn’t bring you laughter; money doesn’t bring you interviews is: “If you could
love. It’s just a vehicle that helps facilitate a certain kind of lifestyle. be someone else, who
Someone that is having a great time is having a great time whether would it be?” So …
they’re rich or poor, and I think that’s one of the great things about I’d be Peggy Guggenheim.
this time. A cartwheel doesn’t cost a dollar. And neither does a smile. She was married to Yves Klein
There’s no price on that. and she brought all the Abstract
Impressionists from Europe,
You’re raising a family in New York. What makes NYC a during the War, to the Hamp-
great place for kids to grow up? tons. I love that she was a pio-
It’s an electric, magnetic city. It’s an amazing environment for neer. She had all this money and
children to be raised in because you have access to the Met, the instead of being like, I’m going
MoMA, the Guggenheim, Central Park. You have restaurants like to be rich and go to Chanel and
Sweetie Pie, where you can get ice cream sandwiches for $100, and have 15,000 dresses made, she took all these artists, she saved their
you can go on the street and get a hotdog for a dollar. lives, and she was basically the backbone of what we call modern
art today. I really like people that are out of the box. I really like
I know you travel a lot. Where are your favorite places to people that think differently and are helpful, I find that to be really
go with the girls? evocative.
I always say New York is where I work and the Hamptons is
where I live. I love the Hamptons; I spend a lot of time there. There What’s next for you?
Inset: Giovanni Rufino; Main: David Geissbert

are obviously other places around the country that I love to be. But I’m working on my different projects. What I really want to do
if you ask me what I like to do, I like to bike ride with my kids down with everything that’s been happening with Housewives is to be able
the street. That’s what I love to do. to build a charity that my children will be able to take on later. That’s
really the main focus for me is to create awareness and build a name
Even with your busy schedule, you always manage to look so I can do something great for my kids.
fabulous. Do you have any quick style tips for moms on the go?
Always have a great hair colorist. I get my hair colored at AKS. I
can be in a T-shirt, I can be in a beautiful dress, but if my hair looks See more of Kelly on The Real Housewives of New York
good and it’s clean, then it sets the tone for everything else. City, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on Bravo

26 • Resident The Week Of March 3, 2009