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In Conversation With:Ming Lee Simmons

by Maja Bebber

With an unparalleled blend of ambition, beauty, and grace, Ming Lee Simmons, emerges as a force in the realm of fashion.

Graduating with flying colours from New York University with a degree in fashion just last year, Ming Lee is now poised at the precipice of launching her fashion label, contemplating a venture that seems almost predestined for someone born into the legacy of her mother, the renowned Kimora Lee Simmons, founder of the iconic label Baby Phat. Ming wears Maison Spoiled

Ming Lee Simmons embodies a rare amalgamation of talents – not only does she possess an innate knack for fashion design, but she also effortlessly captivates audiences as a model, making her a true polymath in the industry. Yet, it’s not merely her lineage that sets her apart; Ming Lee exudes a magnetic charm and intelligence, making her not only an exceptional conversationalist but also an inspiration for aspiring creators worldwide.
In a conversation with tmrw over the phone, Ming Lee Simmons delves into the depths of her aspirations, revealing glimpses of her innermost desires and the trajectory she envisions for her burgeoning career. Beyond the confines of the fashion world, Ming Lee shares insights into her personal preferences, divulging her favourite beauty products and offering a glimpse into her distinctive style ethos.

As the fashion landscape continues to evolve, Ming Lee Simmons stands poised to make her indelible mark. With her unwavering determination, boundless creativity, and unmistakable charisma, she is undoubtedly destined to carve out a legacy that transcends generations, cementing her status as a true icon of style and substance.

Inspired by the New York air, Ming’s style is effortlessly cool. “I think that my style is clean. Honestly, like I hate to use the word basic, but I think it’s basic just because I don’t like to add so many patterns and so many things that include trends because I like to have my closet to be like something I can wear all the time. Yeah. And cosy I don’t like anything like I’m a cosy girl like I want to wear soft pants and like sweatshirts and sweaters. I don’t want to wear tight things.” Of course, we would never keep her favourite brands a secret, because who wouldn’t want to dress like her? Her goats are the Olsen Twins empire The Row and Khaite, as well as Wardrobe NYC. “I like their stuff. It’s a lot of like, it’s very like nice, clean, basic things to add to your closet, but they’re upscale and they’re made amazing. They do great Blazers like I love their Blazers. The structure is perfect.” For closet essentials, she opts for the basics. “I can’t live without a good pair of basic jeans, or vintage jeans. I can’t live without a blazer, and I can’t live without a pair of sneakers. A pair of samba sneakers.”

Ming graduated from NYU last year and has a lot of great advice for aspiring students up her sleeve. “I think it’s interesting because when I chose to go to NYU, I knew that I wouldn’t be doing so much hands-on fashion. So, I didn’t learn how to do patterns or sewing. And I think for aspiring fashion, like children or like students or people who are going to go to school I think it’s important to choose your path. Choose your school based on the path that you like, and what you want to learn because I learned mostly the business side of fashion. I took a lot of marketing classes. I took a lot of PR classes. And then I took like the history or like the psychology behind why we buy things. But I never took an actual hands-on fashion class. So, I think that it’s important to like before you choose a school to know like what the curriculum is and like, what you’ll be learning and studying.” There are a lot of great lessons she learned at university. ‘Fashion is based on psychology. I think it’s important before I go down the wrong path to understand who my audience is, why they would want to buy it and what sets it apart from other things. Yeah, and how to market it in a world where trends are changing so fast, especially with social media.’ With a background of a fashion degree, Ming envisions her brand vividly. The exact idea is still in the works. ‘I don’t know yet. I just graduated but I know that I want to do something I have so many different ideas and so many different paths that I would have to just like sit down and like write it out. And like understand like, where like which path to go down. I don’t want to I don’t want it to be too broad. I want it to be specific. So, I need to like just to need to like just to think about it.”

When it comes to music, her favourite artist of all time is no other than Lana Del Rey. “I like I love her so much. I have all her unreleased music downloaded on my phone and that’s the only thing I listen to right now. I like Cinnamon Girl. Oh yeah, my favourite song and my favourite time when she sings is TV in black and white. But that’s an unreleased song. So good. I’m hoping to get to go to Coachella so I can see her at Coachella because she hasn’t performed and like really in so long.”

Ming has a certain morning routine she religiously follows. “I wake up and I drink Matcha and then I brush my teeth. That’s gross. But I drink water first and then I brush my teeth, so I don’t want to brush my teeth and then drink it. It tastes Yeah. And then I do my skincare routine. Most of my products are from my aesthetician in Los Angeles. Her name is Sarah Ford. She’s amazing. I’ve been with her. I used to have extremely, extremely bad acne. So, I’ve been going to her for four years now or five years now and she completely cleared up my acne. She makes this incredible serum that I use I also use products from skin better, which are amazing. I use the maestro serum from there and then you must have a sunscreen like sunscreen is important and I like using Korean skincare sunscreen.” Ming has a soft spot for vintage bags. “Right now, I’m carrying a Fendi baguette that’s cow print and it has calf hair and it’s beautiful. I want the Margaux Tote from the row. I don’t need a bag that big. I know I want it because it’s so pretty and chic. Like I don’t know what I’m gonna put inside. Yeah, what do we need? It for?”

Ming is a master at makeup, and I can’t help but wonder what her favourite products are. “I can’t live without blush. I love all kinds of wash I love powder cream. Liquid. My favourite makeup is Mario clean wash and then the rare beauty liquid wash. So good. Let me think oh I know I said I can live without sunscreen which is a skincare product but there’s also a blush stick from Colour Science. They have a blush stick that has sunscreen inside, and I love taking that with me I have it with me now because like if you’re in Miami it never hurts to add an extra layer of sunscreen. And I can’t live without lash extensions, but I can’t tell if that’s cheating or not.” She laughs.

Her mum has always been a huge inspiration to the young creative. “I think my mom inspires me because she’s like an independent woman of colour who has navigated the world. And she’s carried herself with such composed like she’s so composed all the time. And that inspires me as a woman of colour, which I feel like is two things in this world that no one wants to succeed, that I can do whatever I want to do, and I know that might sound corny, like, Oh, my mom told me I could do whatever I want to do, but she does push boundaries and she has been doing that her entire career and honestly, like, I am extremely close with my mom and I’m extremely in awe of what she has accomplished. She’s raising five children. All honestly from different ethnic backgrounds and I think she’s doing that very, very well. In addition to having a career.” The best advise her mom has ever given her is: “[…] probably just set like don’t like don’t let people tell you about you. The only person that it will tell you that you cannot is yourself. So, find a way around.”

It is crucial to find a way to stay grounded in a highly competitive industry. How does Ming do it? “I think the way that I stay grounded is through self-self-care. I think it’s important to take care of yourself. What I’ve learned since graduating college is it’s easy to go or do nothing at all. So, it’s important to find a middle ground where you don’t overwork yourself. Too much but like you keep going.”

Her sister has had a huge influence on her growing up. ”I would say that I’m a pretty shy person with people that I don’t know. And growing up my sister even though she’s my younger sister would always take care of me in terms of like if I was getting, like slightly bullied in school and I think it’s important My sister told me not to let people walk all over me. And not to not even just walk all over me like not to let people take advantage of you. Which obviously, is something that anyone would say. Easier said than done, especially when you’re shy or you want to make friends badly. Or you want to be liked. And I think in this industry, in this world, in this society, a lot of people want to be liked and so they allow people to take advantage of that and walk over and, you know, take their stuff physically, I’m just metaphorically. And I think it’s important to know that, you know, if people are going to do that to you, they’re not they’re not worth it. They’re you don’t want them to be your friends. You don’t want them to be a part of your life, your business, whatever it may be. It’s important to stand up for yourself.”

On set for her cover shoot, Ming wore jewellery by Maison Spoiled. “I felt like a princess. Julian did such a good job with the collection. I mean it’s literally called spoiled, and while he didn’t tell me this, I assume it’s because the brand literally makes you feel spoiled. I’m really proud of him and his work and would wear his collection during the day or to a gala.“

Jewellery means a lot to Ming. She says: “I’m a creative person, so jewellery falls into self expression. I mean what girl doesn’t love jewellery, but for me I mean what someone might wear as a ring I might turn into a necklace. Hard to explain in an interview, but I try to be more expressive and original in how I showcase my jewellery.“

Ming has a lot of plans for her life ahead. “I want to do a lot of different creative things. I am thinking about stepping into the beauty space maybe. I haven’t started a fashion line or anything. I don’t want to do something I don’t want to step into an oversaturated market without a good unique idea. Yeah. But I think maybe something in the beauty space is coming soon.” One of her biggest inspirations in the beauty sphere is Rihanna. “I think Rihanna. She was the first person to have such an extensive array of foundation shades. And I think that that honestly opened up a conversation that no one was willing to have at the time, which is that it’s you know, it’s important to represent all different kinds of colours and kind of ethnic backgrounds. With any brand that you create. It’s the same I think it’s the same conversation as you know, a company only doing specific sizing. And now I’m extending into plus sizing it’s like we don’t I think it’s mean like, like, girls, to have a brand that excludes a specific group of people.” Everyone wants to be remembered for something. “I want to work in something creative. I want to be remembered for breaking the rules. I think about what we just talked about; I want to I want to create something that makes everybody feel comfortable. And that is, like all-inclusive. I want to be remembered for you know, I want to be remembered for not being mean and I don’t want to once I want like some people will be like, you know, Ming really took into consideration every single person and type of person when she created that she wasn’t just thinking of herself or a specific group.”

This year, Ming just wants to be happy. “I just want to manifest being happy. I like just you know, having a really good time. This year has been like my first full year not in college. Like little things here and there. And I just, I feel like I have been since January like I’ve just been having a really good time. My friends and like planning things out and working on things like I just, I’m just focusing on having a good time.”

Photographer: Breanna Lynn @breannalynn.gif
Movement Director: Evan Sagadencky @evansagadencky
Photo Assistant: Rachel Waxenberg @rachelwaxenberg
Stylist: Andrew Gelwicks @andrewgelwicks
Makeup Artist: Andrea Ventura @_andreaventura
Hair Artist: Davey Matthew @daveydidmyhair
Maison Spoiled: Julian Polak @julian_polak @maisonspoiled
Talent Manager: Andrew Warren @adwarren
Styling Assistant: Leah Richea @leahrichea
Styling Assistant: Emma Karp @emk1012
Hair Assistant: Jet Keefe @jetkeefebeauty

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