Saturday, January 19, 2013

New York and Famous People

Good morning, everyone...I'm sitting in the lobby of the Marriott New York Marquis, planning my day and realizing that even if there were six of me, I could not do all I wanted to do while I was here.  The flip side, of course, is that I am covering this for an internet newspaper and not here as a bona fide attendee, so I can do a little bit of everything versus doing one or two things from start to finish.

The guy in front of me on the shuttle bus from the airport to the hotel whipped his head around when we were driving down 5th Avenue, and practically knocked me out by saying, "Ooh!  There's Naomi Campbell right there!"  Aside from fearing for my life at the hands of an errant telephone, I am not exactly phased by Naomi Cambpell.  Walking around Vogue LIVE, however, I am pretty damn starstruck.

Many people in the industry of fiber arts can walk past any number of groups and not even cause the bat of an eyelash, mostly because their talent is recognized way before their faces. People like Martha Stewart and Vanna White are knitters and crocheters, but they were famous before their name was slapped on a product they licensed, so assuredly they get stopped on the street anyway.

But when you get 3,000 knitters in a hotel, and Debbie Bliss walks by, the people staying at the hotel who are there for another reason don't see a thing.  The people who are there for Vogue LIVE are squealing, poking each other in the ribs, and asking this classy English lady for her autograph on the back of their expo badges.

Currently, I can see Vickie Howell from where I am sitting; she is having breakfast and tweeted to her over 12,000 followers that she arrived last night. From my vantage point, I can see people walking past her, looking at her, trying to be respectful of the fact that she is eating with friends, but still being starstruck.  I get it.

This is different than the Oscars.  Many of the people here are not in awe of being near someone whose face is on television. Rather, they are taking master classes, taught, in some cases, by a person who actually invented a technique or style.  And this is for a craft that is well over 1,000 years old.  People are starstruck because they can feel the brain power and creativity permeating throughout each lecture hall and classroom.

Not only that, but famous people in the knitting world have one stark contrast from famous people in Hollywood.  They are all...every single one of them...nice, friendly, and humble.  In one of Debbie's lectures yesterday, someone asked her the name of her magazine, and she said, "It's just 'Debbie Bliss magazine.' Oh dear, did THAT sound funny! 'Debbie Bliss magazine...'" she said, tossing her hair about as if it were longer than chin-length.

On Thursday, I met the CEO of a little mom-and-pop company...his name is David Blumenthal.  He runs a family-owned business here in New York, and he and his predecessors (read:  relatives) have made a bit of an impact on knitting.  By the way, he is the CEO of Lion Brand Yarn.  I was standing in his office, and he was showing me all of the souvenirs he has collected over the past several years, including a photo of his grandson, the latest Blumenthal in the empire, modeling a Lion Brand Yarn pattern.  This guy is arguably one of the most powerful people in the industry, and he is essentially showing me how cute his grandson is.

I am starstruck.  Yes, these people are knitters...they are not curing cancer.  But what they are doing is using their immense talent to teach people how to make better chemo caps to donate to cancer victims, make prettier shawls for family members' weddings, and encourage budding designers how to find their way in an industry where even the most powerful of celebrity means that on some level, you are still a peer.

Good, good stuff.

1 comment:

  1. I had the same experience at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago. These (we) are good people!