Is music mogul/brand master Russell Simmons Hollywood's coolest lifestyle guru?
Chakra chic: Russell Simmons’s new, Indian-themed Tantris studio/boutique on Sunset in West Hollywood brings the LA power crowd in for yoga, clothes, blowouts, and a good dose of get-down-and-devotional dharma.
Russell Simmons is a man on a mission. An eastern mission. When the 59-year-old hip-hop mogul-turned-enlightened yogi is asked if he has ever been to India, the response is curt: “You don’t need to go to India to meditate… You just close your eyes.” In fact, one needn’t travel beyond West Hollywood, where Simmons’s spanking new yoga studio-cum-clothing boutique, Tantris, seeks the enlightened Angeleno who is more interested in a higher truth than a run-of-the-LA-mill “yoga butt.”
“We are not ‘power yoga’!” Simmons, a dedicated vegan, insists between forkfuls of spaghetti with “extra-extra” spinach (“hold the lobster”) during lunch at private club Soho House West Hollywood, which shares the same building as the master’s 8,000-square-foot studio. “I do yoga every day for at least an hour… It’s devotional yoga, not just a workout. Life’s goal is yoga.”
Back in the studio, Simmons, dressed in a preppy button-down shirt, sweater, his trademark cap, and prayer beads, demonstrates some stretches that would challenge kids half his age and brags that his vegan/yoga lifestyle has brought him increased wealth, happiness, and good health. “I haven’t had a cold in seven years. You can’t get sick if you don’t eat meat and dairy.”
It’s hard to argue with a multimillionaire multihyphenate who seems oddly centered amidst the swirl of constant phone calls, text messages, and InstaSnap moments during the course of the afternoon. That’s not to say that Simmons is complacent. He’s still looking for yoga teachers who meet his strict requirements (“I quiz them on the ‘Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,’ and they must be vegan”), and he’s anxious to expand his upscale activewear/athleisure line sold in the first-floor boutique (i.e. $108 leggings adorned with the Tantris logo) to a men’s line later this year.
Says the most recent in a long line of celebrities who have transformed themselves into a living lifestyle brand: “We’re not doing the same old-same old as everyone else in LA. I want to change yoga… and revolutionize fashion.” For Simmons, is any mission impossible? Om-azing. 9200 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 213-894-9200