updated 07/18/2008 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 07/18/2008 AT 1:05 PM ET
As an ex-model and current fashion designer, Kimora Lee Simmons has learned a lot about clothing over the years – including what not to let daughters Ming, 8, and Aoki, 5, wear.
“I would not let my daughters show their midriff,” she said this week at the New York City launch of her new juniors line at JCPenney. It was even tough for her to see Ming in her halter dress. “That’s a lot for me,” she admitted.
“I feel like I’ve exposed my kids to a lot,” Simmons said of her parenting philosophy. “We do lead a very high-voltage life so we have to taper back in other ways.”
It’s an attitude Simmons, 33, shares with her boyfriend, actor and model Djimon Honsou, 44. “He’s very protective of them,” she said.
Honsou certainly acted like a member of the family at the launch party at Hiro. He hugged Aoki, and quickly swept the girls away from the cameras while their mother answered questions on the red carpet.
Simmons and Honsou also work together to balance family and career. “We help each other do everything,” Simmons said. “He’s very supportive.”
Honsou also helped Simmons deal with the aftermath of her divorce from mogul Russell Simmons, 50, the father of Ming and Aoki. “I know that women everywhere, especially with kids, understand what I’m saying. It’s difficult when you go through a break-up, and it’s heavenly to find a supportive system,” she said.