Russell Simmons on Whitney Houston at Vivienne Tam

Published February 16, 2012

Simmons has focused primarily on fashion rather than music for the last decade, creating the Phat Farm, Baby Phat (with ex-wife Kimora Lee), American Classics and Argyleculture labels and paving the way for dozens of lines from hip-hop artists, including Fubu (LL Cool J), Rocawear (Jay-Z), Apple Bottoms (Nelly) and Billionaire Boys Club (Pharrell Williams).

We caught up with the founder of Def Jam and Global Grime backstage at Vivienne Tam’s show last night and talked about a range of topics:

On Whitney Houston: “She was a great supporter of my charities, mostly the Rush Foundation. It was sad because she was such a great talent and people loved her so much. She was a very loving person.”

On Blue Ivy Carter: “Yes, I’ve seen her.” (No comment on additional details of Jay-Z’s and Beyonce’s baby.)

On his Occupy Wall Street broadcast: “I think the idea of getting money out of politics is critical. American democracy is spoiled by people buying everything in sight and then selling and buying everything in sight, including our politicians. The movement hasn’t died down; there will be an American spring, just like the Arab spring.”

On Global Grime: “It’s growing very quickly. It’s about integration, diversity versus segregation. It’s proof of concept that the more you integrate, the quicker you grow.”

Along the way, Simmons has formed deep friendships among the fashion community, including with Vivienne Tam. “I’ve known him many years and he always comes to my shows,” Tam told us. “I also know his daughter [Angela] well.”

Joining Simmons in Tam’s front row were Heather Schmid and actresses Bebe Neuwirth, Rebecca Blumhagen and Sally Golan.

Tam’s luxe boho collection featured cigarette pants and pencil skirts in exotic, opulent jewel tones. The collection, entitled Shangri-La Remix, “is about world travel,” said Tam. “In particular this season, in the Himalaya Mountains there is a place called Shangri-La. The movie Lost Horizon is based on James Hilton’s novel about Shangri-La. It’s an escape from war and she’s in love. She comes across all this beautiful fabric; what’s she going to do with it? She mixes it with her own wardrobe, jackets and boyfriend trousers and shirts. They’re all mixed together in amazing colors and fabrics.”