The Real Housewives of New York City reality star, 47, made her first public appearance since his Aug. 10 death for the launch of her Skinnygirl Jeans line at Macy’s Herald Square in New York on Wednesday.
Frankel’s outing comes just over four weeks after Shields was found dead of a suspected overdose in his Trump Tower apartment. He was 51.
“It’s been very, very hard, I love him very much. He’s very much a part of me and he’s very much a part of this [launch]. He was very involved in my endeavors,” Frankel told PEOPLE.
“He would be so excited. I can hear him saying, ‘How many did you sell?’ and ‘I can’t believe you sold out.’ And he would be checking the numbers and checking the website,” she continued.
“He’s here and I just know he would be so proud and a cheerleader,” Frankel added.
Frankel was out at Macy’s Herald Square to launch Skinnygirl Jeans, a line of body inclusive denim that ranges in sizes from 24-34 and 14W-24W (now available at select Market Macy’s locations). “These jeans are for every body. They are completely inclusive, they are for all shapes, sizes, women of all ages,” she says about the collection, which also includes tops and jackets. “There is a level of detail to the fashion, combined with comfort that I haven’t seen.”
On the grieving process, Frankel said: “It’s like [hurricane] Florence, it’s a storm and you must go through it. It’s not one of these things you can avoid and you have to go through it and deal with it and hopefully, you come out stronger on the other side.”
Those helping Frankel through her difficult time include her RHONY costars Luann de Lesseps and Sonja Morgan, both of whom were in attendance at Wednesday’s event.
“I have a lot of really, really close friends that came and stayed with me. I’m really always one who likes to be alone, but I haven’t really loved to be alone [right now],” Frankel shared.
“So I’ve had a lot of my really strong support team with me. Sonja and Luann both knew Dennis. Dennis helped Luann with her legal issues very, very much, and not even really knowing her — that was the kind of person he was,” she added.
Explaining her friends’ concerns over her well being, Frankel recalled, “This summer Luann and Sonja came over and they both said to me separately, ‘He was really your rock.’ So I think they were a little worried about me because he really was and is [my rock].”
Frankel and Shields first met nearly 30 years ago when he dated (and later married) Jill Shields, one of Frankel’s high school friends. Though Frankel did not stay in touch with her classmate (“We’ve spoken three times in 25 years,” she previously told PEOPLE), Frankel and Shields shared other mutual pals.
RHONY viewers are also familiar with Shields, as much of his and Frankel’s on-off relationship was documented on the Bravo series.