We might know style icon Kelly Killoren Bensimon as the former supermodel who graced the pages of Elle and Cosmopolitan, or for her role in Real Housewives of New York City. More recently, she is a luxury real estate agent with Douglas Elliman on the Discovery+ TV show, Selling The Hamptons.
Last night, she hosted a dinner at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar in Miami called H.O.T. Bodies. The event featured models wearing the latest swimwear by celebrity swim designer Melissa Odabash, whose looks have been worn by Rihanna and Kate Moss, while DJ Kristian Caro spun tribal beats with trumpet played by Vincent Raffard from the French Horn Collective. Then, a group of synchronized swimmers called the Aqualillies (who are a favorite of Dita Von Teese), splashed around the rooftop pool to an adoring crowd, while guests checked out a bracelet booth from the Little Words Project.
The scene—which included Bensimon’s H.O.T. Bodies List for 2022—were ushered downstairs to the Osteria Morini restaurant where the executive chef Bill Dorrler showcased their new Mediterranean summer menu, which is inspired by Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
According to Bensimon, H.O.T. Bodies (which stands for Healthy Options Today), is her mantra for healthy cuisine and making smart choices with your daily habits. It’s almost an extension of her 2012 book, I Can Make You Hot! The Supermodel Diet, which has 60 recipes for healthy eating, and nutrition tips. Before her dinner, Bensimon spoke about the early days of Miami Swim Week and being a blogger in 2006.
Forbes: Tell me, how did H.O.T. Bodies come about?
Kelly Bensimon: We partnered with the Altamarea Group, which has locations all over the world, so I can make you hot. Not only can I make you hot, but I wrote the bikini book that started Miami Swim Week with Lycra and IMG. I’m so happy to be back in Miami to celebrate swim week with food, family, and lots of fun at Morini with a Mediterranean diet.
Can you take us back to the first Miami Swim Week?
I wrote The Bikini Book for Lyra, and I was a model for IMG. They loved the book, and I had just come off the heels of being the editor of Elle Accessories, and so much was happening in my world. Miami wanted to do something that would bring new eyes to Miami. I learned how to create energy and bring different ideas to markets. From my beginnings as a model when I was 15, to now, I know what’s great about Miami and south Florida, it was a great idea for me to explore and celebrate this incredible city.
What is H.O.T. Bodies?
I’m here to celebrate hot bodies! With the swimsuit presentation by Melissa Odabash, she is one of the best swimwear designers today—the Kardashians wear it, I wear it, Elle Macpherson wears it, it’s a spectacular line that has sustained many years.
You are at the center of the crossover between fashion and luxury real estate, where is the intersection for you?
There is no intersection, its just all under the same lifestyle umbrella. I have always been a lifestyle arbiter and synthesizer, tonight we’re here to celebrate great food and lifestyle, and interesting people doing interesting things, that makes you hot. To me.
Events like Miami Swim Week, with perfect models on the runway, can trigger body dysmorphia in people.
Totally. Think about it, if you’re a model in Miami Swim Week, you’re trying to be as healthy as possible. It isn’t just looking up at people though, a lot of girls are walking at the beach, the image and perspective of women is different. We are seeing more, different body types and different faces on the runways, that’s super exciting.
What designer are you wearing tonight?
Retrofit. They’re a young brand that is easy to wear, they have a lot of shorts and cool jeans. I’m 54. I still want to look good. This dress feels good, it’s a little bit loose. I think there’s a new way of dressing, where as long as you feel good about yourself, just go for it.
What are your summer essentials for your closet?
I have two girls, 22 and 24, and they tell me my closet is the best place to shop! They’re always inspiring me to wear different clothes.
What are your five summer essentials?
I think every single woman should have a bikini. Every body type, every walk of life, I have seen women in Ibiza in their 80s in bikinis. What I love about the bikini is that it’s so democratic. A bikini became something women wanted to wear in the Jet Age, who saw this new lifestyle. It was a new departure for us. I also love a mandatory high heel. Square-toe shoes are everywhere from Steve Madden to Bottega Veneta. A pair of sunglasses that are bigger and bulkier like Ray Ban’s. I also think tighter bodycon dresses are chic. I also think chic headbands are key, too. And a scarf. Also, I love kimonos, we’re seeing them on all the runways—for men, and women. We’re seeing a lot of mix and match. I think the key is to wear what you love and feel really good about it.
What advice do you have to fashion influencers today?
That you have a strong narrative. For me, I’ve had so much fun creating a new food narrative, which has been interesting to me. Young people are traveling and reading more, and learning more about food, style, skincare, beauty and makeup. It’s a narrative.
You are also hardworking!
I’m a curious human, and being hot is all about healthy options today. I did write I Can Make You Hot! The Supermodel Diet, and “H.O.T.” stands for healthy options today. Living in Miami, this healthy lifestyle is very important. I have two daughters and give them mindful ideas of eating, forecasting the whole body shaming back in 2006, I was the editor of Elle Accessories. When I wrote The Bikini Book, I wrote that it was a celebration of every woman, every size. Because before that, we had only seen a perfect woman. I love imperfection, beauty from all different walks of life, and I’m so happy I was able to forecast that with The Bikini Book with Assouline.