Hanging with Nastia Liukin.

September 10, 2008

Look this way! No, look this way!

Nastia and the Vanilla Star team. (CEO Mark Levy in the dark blue.)

Nastia and the Vanilla Star team. (CEO Mark Levy in the dark blue.)

Singing Vanilla Star tees for fans.

Signing Vanilla Star tees for fans.

Posing with a fan... I mean, a reporter! (That's me on the left.)

Posing with a fan... I mean, a reporter! (That's me on the left)

Today, I got to steal a few minutes with Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin, who stopped by the Vanilla Star Showroom on 40th Street in NYC to promote her upcoming Vanilla Star sportswear line, the Nastia Gold Collection.

Personal note: I can’t even do a cartwheel! I’m the most gymnastically challenged person ever, but it’s always been one of my favorite Olympics events — probably for that reason. Dominique Moceanu, Kerri Strug, 1996 — I was hooked!

My impression of Nastia? Completely normal. Normal, normal, normal, if not a little shy! When a photog asked her to strike a pose — “Turn a little, give me a little snaz!” — she giggled nervously, put her hand on her hip and gave a cute little normal smile.

OK, she’s not ready for Bryant Park (though she told me she did get to check out a bit of Fashion Week while in the city). But I like that. Good skin, but not perfect, blonde hair, but not bleached, skinny, but not uber-thin. She’s a normal person completely inunduated by her success, if not a bit disoriented — like you or I would be had we been plucked out of the blogosphere and shoved onto fame’s unforgiving rollercoaster.

I can’t blame her — she’s touring with Disney’s Tour of the Gymnastic SuperStars until November 16 (35 cities!), simulatenously touring with Vanilla Star to promote her line, filming a guest spot on Gossip Girl, talking about an athleticwear line with GK and working on a Cover Girl campaign for fall! Basically, she’s a smart girl who’s trying to keep her act together and smartly manage her success. Vanilla Star nailed it with the title of the ad campaign she’s gracing: Smart Girls Rock!

Amidst autographs for Vanilla Star clients and a few hurried minutes of design work with the VS team, Nastia managed to give me five (PR people emphasized the five) minutes of her golden time. So nice! Read what she had to say!

Before the Olympics, most people hadn’t heard of you. Now you’re designing your own line for Vanilla Star, planning ads for Cover Girl, on the front of a Wheaties box…. How’s it been since Beijing?
It’s been surreal. Every morning I wake up and it takes a few minutes for me to think, ‘Was that a dream, or was that real?’ Luckily, I can say it’s real. It’s been the best time of my life. I’m just trying to take it day by day.

You’re on some of the gossip blogs now, like Perez Hilton has written a bit about you. Have you seen any of those? What do you think?
I have seen them, and it’s funny, because before the Olympics I was always reading People.com and stuff for news, so it’s so weird to be on it now… it’s cool. A lot of people recognize me now which is weird for me because three weeks ago only people who followed gymnastics or really followed the Olympics knew who I was. I got into gymnastics because it was fun and it was something I loved. I never thought it would bring me to where I am now.

Like to fashion. Are you a fashionista? Have you ever designed anything before?
My mom and I design all my leotards for competition and practice — not the Olmypic ones, though — so I’ve always had that creative side.

What’s your personal style like?
Not too fancy. I love to get dressed up sometimes, like this week for Fashion Week I got to wear some really nice dresses. I got to sit in the second row at the Max Azria show, and it was really cool. But most days it’s just casual stuff.. cute T-shirts, hoodies, jeans with heels. Most of the time I’m just glad not to be wearing a leotard!

Speaking of leotards… everyone’s talked about the pink leotard [that you wore when you won gold] at the Olympics. Did you get to choose what you wore at Beijing?
We all got eight or nine long-sleeved leos (leotards) and we had to match every day, except for the individual competition. I chose the pink one, because it was different. It was a lucky choice!

What can we expect from your Vanilla Star collection?
The whole idea is it’s stuff that I would actually wear. Some fun tees and stylish jeans. The concept is that girls who look up to me can wear this and be wearing something that I’d wear. We’re doing half the collection for holiday, and then we’ll do some back-to-school next fall.

Are you working on anything else in fashion?
I’m talking about doing a collection with GK [Sportswear]; they’ve been my sponsors for a while. I’ve designed some pieces for them but now I might do a full line.

So… I have to ask about [your upcoming appearance on] Gossip Girl. Are you a fan?
I read all the books before the TV show came out. Then when I found out the show was coming out, I just wanted to meet the cast! I never thought I’d be on the show!

Are we going to see you [at the Olympics] in London in 2012?
I don’t know. It’s not out of the question, but that’s four years away and I’m trying to take every day a step at a time.

What’s in store for the future?
It’s hard to say… there’s so much! I definitely want to stay in gymnastics. I want to put the message out there that if you stick to anything you can do it and make it your life.

FYI: Nastia’s collection of juniors jackets, hoodies, tees and jeans will hit major department stores (think Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Sears) by Thanksgiving, just in time for those who want to give a little gold for the holidays.

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One Response to “Hanging with Nastia Liukin.”

  1. Jen Says:

    WOW…. You’re my Hero…..


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