She’s been a model, writer and editor, and the wife of fashion photographer Gilles Bensimon. So what else is there for Kelly Killoren Bensimon to do but become a reality TV star? She gave me the scoop on her latest role—as the newest housewife on Bravo’s best guilty pleasure, The Real Housewives of New York City.
Allure: Why on earth did you decide to join the cast?
Kelly: First, I have a jewelry line out and I thought this would help with exposure. I also wanted to show America a different kind of New York woman: I went to Columbia University, have two kids who I raise on my own, yet everyone refers to me as socialite. I’m not—Nan Kempner was.
Allure: What’s the craziest thing that you’ve experienced so far on the show?
Kelly: The verbal drama. I haven’t experienced this before, not even in college, because my drama there was more about how much Shakespeare can you read in a night. I don’t have any desire to keep up with that. Altercations happen in life, but if someone said something to me that I felt wasn’t right, I wouldn’t want to get into it. My feeling is to tell them it’s inappropriate, and just move on.
Allure: With which housewife do you click best?
Kelly: There are a lot of different aspects of all of their personalities that I admire, like LuAnn’s charm, Jill’s nurturing side, Bethenny’s enthusiasm, Alex’s work ethic, and Ramona’s business life. I didn’t know them before I started on the show, and I didn’t watch the show or research everyone before I started. Having kids helped us bond, though.
Allure: In this economic climate, people are trying to scale back. How are you saving—and what do you absolutely refuse to scrimp on?
Kelly: As a recessionista, I don’t get manicures. And I’ve been renting amazing vintage gowns, so I save money and get to wear incredible pieces of clothing.
I love to get my hair colored. Kathleen Flynn Hui from Salon AKS is my best friend and my colorist. She makes me the sexiest brunette and the prettiest blond.
Allure: What’s the best beauty advice you’ve learned?
Kelly: When I was modeling I thought I had to get facials all the time, and my skin was so bad then. My friends say I look better now, and I think it’s because I do so much less. I’m not a girl who loves getting beauty treatments at all, but I’m obsessed with body scrubs.
Allure: You’re the former editor of Elle Accessories. What’s the one every woman must have?
*Kelly: A pair of metallic high heels. There’s nothing sexier than a woman in heels, and metallics are fun for parties or vacations. *
Allure: Why do you think people are so obsessed with the show?
Kelly: It’s the ultimate guilty pleasure—you can be a voyeur and no one has to know. Everyone thinks the grass is always greener, but it shows that the sun sets everywhere, every night.
Block that metaphor.