She’s parlayed her breakout role on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” into a number of high-profile gigs—a storyline on “Glee,” guest-hosting “Fashion Police,” and appearing on the fourth hour of the “Today” show—but NeNe Leakes has a brand-new job to add to her resume: fashion designer. The outspoken celebrity is prepping for the launch of a clothing collection for women, NeNe NeNe Leakes, debuting this month on HSN, and she’s doing it for all of the curvy girls out there. Bloop!
“I really love fashion, I’m very much a fashion girl, and shopping has always been such a huge stress reliever for me,” Leakes told us when we chatted with her about her first foray into design.
The collection, which debuts on HSN on July 28 and ranges in price from $39.90 to $139.90, will feature items like knit tank tops, faux-leather jackets, and dressed-up sweatpants. All things to help women look easy, comfortable, and fabulous, according to Leakes.
“There are a lot of curvy women in my family, and we’re tall, so this was personal. I wanted pieces that you could pop on in the morning and look great in. That was my inspiration,” she said.
Plus, women have been asking Leakes—who’s 5’10—for style advice for years. “On social media, tall women are constantly asking me, ‘Where did you get those pants?’ Or women who are curvier ask me, ‘I’m a size 18 where can I get that shirt in my size?’ and I [didn’t] really know. They think I’m a size 16 or 20 because I apparently look larger on TV.”
Even though Leakes is a size 10 in real life, the HSN line will thrill all her fans—sizes range from 2 to 24.
The accessible line fits right in with the reality star’s philosophy around shopping: “I don’t buy everything designer,” she said. “I’m always in TJ Maxx. It’s not far from where I live and I go all of the time. I shop better when there’s a sale. I don’t want to buy something for $3,800 and wear it one time.”
Leakes started her design process by pulling things from her closet for inspiration. After it was completed she reached out to some famous friends for advice, including Joan Rivers and Giuliana Rancic. “Joan is such a hot mess, but has had such a great business for a very long time, and she really told me how much work this was going to be. Giuliana told me to be very hands-on and to try on every piece. I listened. I tried on every piece to see how they moved, how they worked in my closet.”
While Leakes might love shopping, apparently getting ready for red carpet appearances isn’t one of her passions. “I’m not a fan of the red carpet. It’s a lot of stress. It’s worse than getting ready for prom. You have to get your teeth whitened, you have to put lotion on your fingers, oh god. You need a whole team, it’s super-expensive, everyone is judging you, and you need to be perfect—from your nail polish down to your panty lines.” Leakes added: “I do love wearing gowns. Not a lot of women get to wear gowns. Getting dressed up for the Emmys? That was just so amazing.”
As for her ultimate fashion tip for women? “So many women are just dressing wrong. If you have a great pair of legs, you should know you have a great pair of legs, if you have great arms, show off your great arms.”
Naturally, we couldn’t let NeNe go without asking one question about her fellow Housewives, so we wanted to know: Who’s the best dressed, and who’s the worst?
“I’m obviously the best dressed housewife,” the characteristically confident Leakes shared. As for the worst? “I can’t tell you,” she told us with a laugh. “Though I do have someone in mind.”
NeNe NeNe Leakes launches on HSN and HSN.com on July 28.