Gina Kimmel expands vintage lingerie lines

  • Gina Kimmel

    Gina Kimmel

  • Brian Hansberry

    Brian Hansberry

  • Johanna Walker

    Johanna Walker

  • Jennifer M. Werneke

    Jennifer M. Werneke

  • Nathan Karsten

    Nathan Karsten

  • Erica Horndasch

    Erica Horndasch

  • Deb Reiter

    Deb Reiter

Updated 2/3/2015 9:06 AM

Hoffman Estates native Gina Kimmel has found herself coming full circle. After her divorce from husband, comedian Jimmy Kimmel, she eventually returned to the Chicago area. She also picked up a career where she redesigns classic Hollywood lingerie and parlayed it into an online business last year.

Gina Kimmel has launched Maddy James, an online retailer of vintage-inspired lingerie from the 1920s through 1960s. She takes the classic styles and updates them with new materials and tailoring to make sure they fit and are useful for modern women, she said.


"I'm just too old for Victoria Secret," the 50-year-old joked. "But I felt something was missing in that industry, something glamorous and pretty and special and yet something that can still be worn and was affordable."

Gina's path to vintage clothing started after she left Northern Illinois University after a year. She then went to Arizona State University to be in warmer weather and closer to her father after her parents divorce. While at Arizona, she met Jimmy Kimmel. They married in 1988, raised two children, then divorced about 15 years later. Their daughter Katie, is now 23, and Kevin is 21.

While living in California, Gina worked as a costume designer and worked on TV movies, including "Party Like the Rich and Famous," among others.

She also launched an apparel business in Los Angeles, she said.

"But I was such a little fish in a big pond," she said.

By 2012, she returned to Chicago. She attended a fashion program at Harper College in Palatine, which was helpful in her launch of the vintage lingerie idea. That's also where she met April Pruitt of McHenry, who became her business partner in the company.

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They started a Kickstarter campaign last year and it helped them raise enough money to launch the company, Maddy James, which inverts the name of her father, James Maddy.

"I always liked the name Maddy James. It sounds like a romance novelist would use that name," she said.

She also enjoys collecting vintage clothing and other items, she said.

"I love the art-deco period and my apartment looks like something from 1938," she said.

That love of vintage items also extends to her company, which features nightgowns, robes and other items in classic styles. The company is featuring its line at the Chicagoland Vintage Clothing & Jewelry Show at the Hemmens Cultural Center on Feb. 27-28 in Elgin.

"We've taken the past and made it modern," she said.

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