Fashion Designer And Real Housewife Of New York Kelly Bensimon Harper Bazaar Magazine Interview


Woman on the Verge... Of a breakdown or a breakthrough? Real Housewives's Kelly Killoren Bensimon explains the truth behind her blow-up.

"I am not crazy. I am unpredictable," Bensimon says. And in case you were wondering, "I'm not in therapy."
1279028815_kelly-bensimon-290.jpgAfter watching the cringeworthy show, some might say she should be. During a disastrous dinner served up by Bensimon's nemesis, Bethenny Frankel, Bensimon argued with the other housewives, frantically ate jelly beans, and fled to her room and, ultimately, New York. According to her, the others started it.
"It went from an everyday scene to all of a sudden Housewives, Big Brother style," says Bensimon, who has denied popping pharmaceuticals like those jelly beans. Off-screen, she points out, she was dealing with the stress of a nanny who had quit and fielding calls from her daughters, Sea and Teddy, who were begging her to return home.
“I think it was deeply disturb- ing. It seemed like she had a break of some kind, but I can’t say exactly what it was,” says Andy Cohen, Bravo’s programming chief, who denies Bensimon’s claims that she felt “literally forced” to go on the trip. “She was not forced to go to Saint John by Bravo or the producers,” he says. “That’s untrue.”
Whatever happened, they can ably all be happy that the on-air histrionics translated into Housewives’s highest ratings to that point (2.3 million viewers). It also landed Bensimon, Frankel, and Jill Zarin on Us Weekly's cover, making them reality-TV A-listers.
"I’m embarrassed that I allowed myself to feed into it, but I don’t think I would handle it differently. The ratings were amazing, so no, absolutely not,” Bensimon says, showing little remorse over what she’s dubbed “Scary Island.” She adds, “Whether it’s my nail color, my hair color, or the shoes I’m wearing, everything about me bothers them.”
Either way, she thinks the wave of attention, however humiliating, might be worth riding. “I don’t have any regrets. I’m glad I went on Housewivesbecause the show has made me more known,” she says.
“You say ‘crazy Kelly,’ that search engine’s going to go bananas, but if you say ‘sweet Kelly,’ it’s going to go nowhere,” continues Bensimon, shrugging off the criticism of viewers for whom reality TV is a blood sport.
In fact, “crazy Kelly” pulls up about 11.9 million hits on Google. While a dubious honor, such numbers are part of Bensimon’s publicity math. She runs more calculations: 6,000, the dollars she can raise for Feeding America with the sale of six Kelly-brand feather earrings; 70,000, the number of views in four days on the homemade antibullying PSA she posted after the Saint John gang war on her official YouTube channel (“This past season, bullying became a really, really big issue,” she says); and 294 million, the number of “media impressions” created by her March 2010Playboy cover. “With Playboy, I think I superseded Housewives. It was huge,” she says.
It’s not that Bensimon is any stranger to attention. But it used to be from a select crowd of fashion designers, like Marc Jacobs and Francisco Costa, fellow socialites, and front-row photographers. As founding editor of Elle Accessories, a style-book author, and the wife of influential photographer and former Elle creative director Gilles Bensimon, she occupied a lofty perch in the fashion world. Even after her 2007 divorce, she was still in style. Her decision to plunge into the fray of reality television has raised some well-groomed eyebrows. And Bensimon knows it. “The Real Housewives of New York City is not considered something that people want to be a part of,” she says. But, she says, “I never had a voice before, and now I do.”
She’s using it to talk about everything from safe sex and bullying to her decorating choices. “I’m trying to do all these inspirational projects. I try to make pancakes,” she says, refer- ring to an episode of the show. “I’m horrible at it.” Read more.


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