IN CONVERSATION WITH HEIDI KLUM
interview by JANA LETONJA
Supermodel, producer, entrepreneur, television personality, author and fashion designer HEIDI KLUM has had a career many women dream of: appearing on the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SWIMSUIT issue, being the first German VICTORIA’S SECRET Angel, producing and hosting TV programs such as MAKING THE CUT, QUEEN OF DRAGS, PROJECT RUNWAY and GERMANY’S NEXT TOPMODEL. Yet, in this conversation, she says being a mother has been the most gratifying of her pursuits and being able to do charitable work is the greatest reward she has received.
pants JOSEF ALOYS GRILL JUNIOR
ring MM6 MAISON MARGIELA
How did it all begin, Heidi?
I come from a small town outside of Cologne, Bergisch Gladbach, and I entered this modeling contest that was on television. I sent a coupon in with a few personal photos of myself and was invited to do a casting, then a video was shot. I won the week… then I won that month and in the end I won the whole contest. It was incredible. I was this normal girl who all of a sudden had this amount of money that I won in the show.
And then more excitement started happening. I went from there to London, to Paris, to Milan. I hopped around Europe and it was a very exciting time. Being away from home for the first time, going to all these different cities, being in a modeling agency, you get castings, you have your map of the town and you run around and you are growing up as a young woman. Then, in 1994, I decided I wanted to go to America and I just fell in love with it.
In 1998, you appeared on the cover of the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SWIMSUIT issue. How do you look back on this today?
There were a few things at that time that people really took note of. And that was VICTORIA’S SECRET, that was SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and obviously the big brands. To get any of these gigs was extremely hard, extremely desirable for many models that I would see at castings all over the place.
When I got the phone call that I was actually going to be on the cover, that was like winning the lottery. It was like the biggest thing. They had about 55 million readers and I could feel it because all of a sudden when I walked down the street or when I would go somewhere in public, people started turning around and recognizing me.
And then shortly after that followed VICTORIA’S SECRET. I got all these amazing jobs that were so desirable and I was extremely lucky that I met people who actually saw me and believed in me. I’m extremely thankful for every job that I did, not just the big, but also the small things because there’s where you learn, where you have another experience and that’s how life is.
dress ANNA RITTER
blouse ELIE SAAB
corsett JENNIFER MILLEDER
You’ve been a VICTORIA’S SECRET Angel for 13 years, walking their famous fashion shows and wearing the Fantasy bra 3 times… What are your fondest memories from the years working with VICTORIA’S SECRET?
I was there for many years, there were so many amazing moments. From wearing the biggest wings to carrying my first child on the runway when no one knew. That was a special moment for me. And just meeting all these amazing people and having fun with all the girls. We traveled around the world, we flew on the Concord, we did Angels Across America, we did so many fun things.
But really the fondest moment was being pregnant with my first child and then also being given the chance to come back. I did have jobs in the past where people would be like “Now you’re a mother and you don’t fit in the concept of being a sexy woman anymore, therefore you are out of the campaign”. With VICTORIA’S SECRET, I was a mom and considered still a sexy woman and I got to keep doing what I loved. I always loved being in my lingerie, parading around on the catwalk, so for me it was a super fun experience. I have only great memories. I met amazing girls. Giselle, Tyra, Naomi, Helena, you name it.
coat JENNIFER MILLEDER
belt SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO
top & pantie DSTM
boots ELLIE SAAB
dress JIL SANDER
blouse JENNIFER MILLEDER
You have also designed clothing, lingerie, jewelry and beauty products. What excitement does designing bring you?
I like to consider myself a person who is creative, who thinks outside the box and is very vibrant in color and trying to figure out new things. Thinking about how I started designing… BIRKENSTOCK is one of a few things that I’ve done. I was very proud to have this deal with BIRKENSTOCK and in the end they let me do what I wanted to do because I pushed the envelope and I made them different.
I have done other jobs where I got hired to be the designer and then they don’t actually let you design. They still wanna design at the end of the day and make it less loud. I wanted things more loud because my thing was always that I’m not here to blend in. To push for what you believe in, what you really love, your vision and then actually see people on the street wearing what you’ve created is so satisfying.
blouse LAURA CHLASS
top DRIES VAN NOTEN
What’s the biggest reward you got for your hard work?
It’s great when you get to do things to help other people. Because of me becoming very successful and being on television, I am in so many houses and people get to see me and they all of a sudden know me. I can use that tool to put these eyeballs on things that really matter. And that is giving back. I have been supporting UNICEF for many years and went to Haiti with them, went to India and all the different places. It’s great that you can use this celebrity tool for raising awareness on so many different organizations.
I always love giving my help, my support to anything to do with children. And that’s why I love being with UNICEF. When you travel to many of these places, you really see what these organizations do. They have an army of helpers on the ground, going into small villages, teaching people, taking the time, giving people a hug, giving them nutritious food, giving them a vaccination if they need it. They’re just great. When you have seen what these organizations do, obviously those moments stick with you forever. There’s amazing people in the world and people are super thankful and they’re so joyful when they get to see you come into those little towns.
dress MARINE SERRE
shoes SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO
full look GCDS
blouse ELIE SAAB
shoes MM6 MAISON MARGIELA
Which event in your own life has influenced you the most?
Definitely becoming a mom, having been lucky enough to be pregnant four times and having children and learning this kind of love. I’m very thankful to have this experience and to have these four amazing people in my life to teach them, to love them and being loved back by them. It’s just a different feeling, it’s amazing.
Your daughter Leni has been slowly following in your modeling footsteps. How do you feel about that?
To me, she is not really following in my footsteps. She is modeling, but she’s making her own footprints. A lot of the times she will ask me “Hey mom, what do you think about this? ” And I tell her what I think about a certain something and she will do the opposite. Maybe I should just say the opposite, in order for her to hopefully do what I would suggest normally. But she has her own head and I’m very proud of her. She juggles school, she goes to college, she loves what she does and she’s happy at the end of the day. And for me, that is the most important, that she’s happy with herself. She has a good head on her shoulders. I feel confident about my children, so that makes me happy.
What career advice have you given her?
In general, we always want to please people and you don’t always need to please someone if you don’t feel like it’s right. With anything, I listen to my gut and I told her to always listen to her gut and to be happy when she looks in the mirror. And by that I don’t mean the beauty that she has when she looks in the mirror. I just mean be happy with who you see on the other side, with whatever you do.
What’s next for you?
I am in the middle of AMERICA’S GOT TALENT at the moment. But what I’m most afraid about is to top my Halloween look. This is the biggest challenge for me, in my own head and for my own satisfaction afterwards. It’s going to be difficult for me to top the worm costume from last year and I know what I’m up against, so this is giving me sleepless nights at the moment. I just love doing these kind of weird things. I love for people to have a laugh when they see this. I wanted a reaction where people are like “Oh my God, that is weird”.
full look GCDS
full look ISSEY MIYAKE
talent HEIDI KLUM @heidiklum
photography KRISTIAN SCHULLER @kristianschuller
art direction PEGGY SCHULLER @peggyschuller
creative direction FABIO PACE @fabiopace_
styling JULIUS FORGO & TANJA FORGO-METTLER @juliusforgo @untilfull________ @basicsberlin
hair artist PATRICK GORRA @ballsaal_artist_mgmt
makeup artist GABRIELLE THEURER @gabriellemiaou
set design KATHLEEN ALISCH
digital tech CHEYENNE HOCH @cheyenne_hoch
light assistance ALLAN JAMES LIPP @allanjamesphoto
styling assistance JOHANNA RILL @rilljohanna
editor TIMI LETONJA @timiletonja
interview JANA LETONJA @janaletonja
cover design ARTHUR ROELOFFZEN @arthurroeloffzen