Heidi Klum on 'Project Runway,' Why She Has No Problem with Nudity & What She Remembers about Miami

By Carla Torres | November 28, 2016 | People Feature

From the runway to the small screen to philanthropy and style, Emmy Award-winning host and fashion-designing mother Heidi Klum goes beyond supermodel and supermom. She’s superhuman.

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Sublime Ribelle soft-cup bra, Heidi Klum Intimates ($110). Nordstrom, Aventura Mall, 19501 Biscayne Blvd., 305-356-6900. Yellow-and white-gold diamond Etoilee pendant earrings; yellow-gold and diamond Etoilee necklace; white-gold diamond Etoilee flexible cuff; and white-gold, South Sea pearl, and diamond ring (prices on request), Buccellati. Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-866-8686

Heidi Klum doesn’t need to introduce herself at a party—or anywhere, really—but she does anyway. “Hi, I’m Heidi,” she says with the type of voice that practically hugs you, flashing a million-dollar smile. In 2011, Klum catwalked her way to number 2 on Forbes’s World’s Top-Earning Models list with $20 million in earnings. And just this October, when Forbes shone a light on the world’s highest-paid TV hosts, the Project Runway, Germany’s Next Top Model, and America’s Got Talent judge was one of six women on the list.

Having graced more Victoria’s Secret runways than she can count and having landed the coveted spot on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, where she wore nothing but psychedelic body paint, at the age of 25 (just five years after winning a national modeling contest in her native Germany), Klum has been photographed for virtually every magazine, including the cover of Ocean Drive. “When I came to America in ’94, my first stop was Miami,” she recalls. “I remember it like it was yesterday.”

And she’s still going. After a long week of recording voice-overs for her upcoming kids’ movie Arctic Justice: The Thunder Squad, posing for dual photo shoots, volunteering for the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and planning her daughter’s seventh-birthday parties at school and home, Klum’s ability to instantly remember a moment from two decades ago in her fast-paced life is quite impressive. Let alone find the time to cook dinner for her four children and boyfriend, acclaimed art dealer Vito Schnabel; design a desk with her signature butterflies for Roche Bobois that will be auctioned off during Art Basel in Miami Beach; and launch her debut swimwear collection, Heidi Klum Swim. “Today I am super tired,” she concedes. But when I ask her about a nap, she lets out a contagious laugh—she still has 45 minutes on the treadmill to do. After that? Who knows.

Why was Miami your first stop in the US?
My agency at the time said, “You have to go to Miami! A lot of the German clients and catalogs are shooting down there. And with your curves and your healthy look, this is going to be right up your alley.”

You’re basically like supermom with four kids, and now you’re working on your first kids’ movie. Have you always been into animated films?
I love Pippi Longstocking! When you have four children, you pretty much see every movie that there is to see and get excited when new ones come out. So me being in one (I play two animals) is super exciting for them even though they can’t see me.

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Gown, Zac Posen ($6,990). Neiman Marcus, Village of Merrick Park, 358 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables, 786-999-1000. One-of-a-kind yellow- and white-gold, golden South Sea pearl, and rose-cut diamond necklace; white-gold Macri cuff bracelet; yellow-gold and diamond Opera cuff; yellow-gold and diamond cuff; and white- and yellow-gold emerald-cut diamond Opera ring (prices on request), Buccellati. Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-866-8686. 18k rose-gold and black quartz serpent ring, Jack Vartanian ($1,500). Pumps, Giuseppe Zanotti Design ($750). Bal Harbour Shops, 305-868-0133

After modeling lingerie for 20 years, you were asked to design your own line, Heidi Klum Intimates.
I detoured from wanting to become a designer when I won a modeling contest [in Germany] and never looked back. After many years [in fashion] and meeting many people, everyone always wants to know how you dress, what shoes and jeans you think are best, what bras have the best fit. Doing my own line was a natural fit.

Which bras do have the best fit?
I love a natural shape. I don’t love big push-up bras and boobs right under your neck! That was yesterday. I thought we need to do something different for the super sexy girls who have lots of push-up bras but also love no lining inside, where it’s all lace. My whole slogan, what I tell my design team, is always “more boobs, less bra.”

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Gown, Pamella Roland ($3,520). Saks Fifth Avenue, Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-865-1100. White-gold, South Sea pearl, and diamond ring; yellow- and white-gold diamond Etoilee flexible cuff; hand-engraved white-gold diamond cuff; and yellow-gold Opera band (prices on request), Buccellati. Bal Harbour Shops, 305-866-8686. Tuctopen platform sandals, Christian Louboutin ($1,095). Miami Design District, 161 NE 40th St., 305-576-6820

Is there such a thing as lingerie that’s too sexy?
Everyone should do what they want to do, [even if it’s] thigh-high stockings and a garter belt that shows a little bit when you sit at the dinner table. I don’t think that’s vulgar. I feel comfortable and don’t care if someone sees my nipples necessarily—it’s okay to see the nipple! But not everyone feels comfortable with that. Which is why I made a “Busting Out of the Cage” line with nipple petals and other fun but modest stuff.

Would you say your swimsuit collection, Heidi Klum Swim, is sexy?
Lingerie and swim are quite similar because of the silhouette, though I’m a little bit more classic in my swim. Only your spouse will see lingerie, or you wear it for yourself. When you go to the beach, you are as close to being naked in public as you can possibly ever be, so I don’t like it to be too fussy, too weird, too many straps, or too many strange tan lines. For me it was about having more of a classic silhouette that has a great fit, and then pairing that with beautiful prints, great textures, fabrics, great hardware, and trim.

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Dress, Reem Acra ($2,995). Nordstrom, Aventura Mall, 19501 Biscayne Blvd., 305-356-6900. Madeline thong, Heidi Klum Intimates ($32). Gold, pearl, sapphire, and diamond drop earrings; white-gold, South Sea pearl, and diamond ring; hand-engraved yellow- and white-gold diamond Opera cuff; and yellow-gold Opera band (prices on request), Buccellati. Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-866-8686

So you’re classic, yet you’re a fan of going topless.
I grew up going to nude beaches with my parents, so I’m a nudist. I have no problems with nudity at all. I’m very free. When I go to the beach, it’s in a very remote place where there are not a lot of people, and I like to go topless.

Is that why you’re so open about sex and public displays of affection?
I’m not doing PDA on the beach with tons of people. I go on a boat or I take a hike somewhere. If you would zoom out in the places where I’m with my boyfriend, there’s nobody there. Unfortunately, paparazzi always follow us, in a helicopter or they hang behind a bush or a boat and they come up with scuba gear. But to the outside world, it looks like we’re frolicking on the beach having a show in front of everyone.

Speaking of your boyfriend and paparazzi, the media loves calling you a cougar. [Klum is 43 and Schnabel is 30.]
It’s not about age. We have an amazing connection, we have fun together, and we love each other. It doesn’t matter what people say. As long as you know when you close your door in your own home, you have an amazing time together. That’s really all that matters.

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Madeline thong, Heidi Klum Intimates ($32). Yellow-and white-gold diamond Etoilee flexible cuff, Buccellati (price on request). Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-866-8686. Tudor sandals, Christian Louboutin ($1,295). Miami Design District, 161 NE 40th St., 305-576-6820

With four kids and your oldest almost a teenager, have you had the sex talk?
They know how babies are conceived. I have never really been a huge fan of beating around the bush. I’m quite direct. I guess that’s how people know me on television: I don’t mince my words.

Your biggest splurge has been on art, and Vito Schnabel is well-known in the art world. Do you connect over that?
Art [and math] were my majors in school. I have always loved to paint. Being involved with someone who is so good at this, [Vito] is an amazing teacher of all that is new now. Going to school, you learn about the Picassos and Warhols of the world and different time periods. Now I learn more about contemporary art, cultures, and what is now.

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Gown, Jonathan Simkhai ($15,495). Neiman Marcus, Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-865-6161. Yellow- and white-gold diamond Etoilee pendant earrings; yellow- and white-gold diamond Etoilee necklace; one-of-a-kind yellow- and white-gold, golden South Sea pearl, and rose-cut diamond necklace; hand-engraved yellow- and white-gold diamond Opera cuff; hand-engraved 18k white-gold diamond cuff; hand-engraved pink-gold and diamond Macri band; yellow- and white-gold emerald-cut diamond Opera ring; yellow-gold, sapphire, and diamond yellow beryl ring; yellow- and white-gold, diamond, and tsavorite cocktail ring; 18k yellow-gold Opera band ring; and 18k white-gold South Sea pearl diamond ring (prices on request), Buccellati. Bal Harbour Shops, 305-866-8686

Project Runway was the highest-rated show on cable after finishing its sixth season, and now it’s going into its 15th season.
People always say, “How can you still want to do this after so many years? Doesn’t it get boring?” Fashion doesn’t get boring. Fashion always evolves and changes. They’re real people with real stories. How can you find that boring?

You’ve given back through Unicef, traveling to Haiti post-earthquake, to India to promote health and education, and serving as their Trick-or-Treat ambassador. Why is this important?
Because of how little we know about what they do. We see pictures in magazines or we see these commercials on television and have become numb to them. It’s horrible. I have been to Africa, Mongolia, Haiti, and India many times, and it’s heartbreaking. Anything—a pencil, a piece of paper, a pair of sneakers, or old books—means the world to these people.

You were the topic of one of Donald Trump’s verbal assaults last year when he said, “Heidi Klum is no longer a 10.” Did you take time to watch the debates and vote?
Of course! It’s hard for me to comment on politics; I don’t know a lot. I would never have voted for him, and it has nothing to do with him saying I’m not a 10. We’re just not on the same wavelength.

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Sun Muse one-piece, Heidi Klum Swim ($170). Yellow-gold, sapphire, mother-of-pearl, and diamond earrings and hand-engraved yellow- and white-gold diamond cuff (prices on request), Buccellati. Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-866-8686. 18k yellow-gold and black diamond leopard ring, Jack Vartanian ($6,200). Embellished Candidate pumps, Christian Louboutin ($1,195). Miami Design District, 161 NE 40th St., 305-576-6820

What’s the biggest criticism you’ve received?
That I’m too curvy. Too feminine. I got that a lot. That I should be skinnier. And that I’m not edgy enough and a little too happy half of the time. Everyone was always telling me maybe I should skip a meal or I should go on these [diet] pills. I just always stuck to my guns and thought either they want me the way I am or this is not the right job for me.

Did that ever make you insecure?
When you’re a normal girl from a small town and no one really takes note of you, and then all of a sudden you’re walking down a catwalk in your lingerie and on the cover of Sports Illustrated and all these people are turning their heads when you go into a restaurant and pointing their finger at you saying, “She’s not as pretty in person as she is in photos,” you get a little insecure. You always get judged, so you have to learn how to handle that.

You must be a stickler with your diet.
Food is really important with four kids. We get up at 6:30 and all have breakfast together. We eat healthfully at home but something different every day; there’s always a carb, always some type of meat, and a salad. On the road is harder, and I will be that annoying girl with the Tupperware stinky salad with fish on top, because I don’t know what there is for lunch and I don’t want some weird processed stuff. You are what you eat, and people know it.

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LEFT: Sublime Ribelle soft-cup bra, Heidi Klum Intimates ($110). Nordstrom, Aventura Mall, 19501 Biscayne Blvd., 305-356-6900. Yellow- and white-gold diamond Etoilee pendant earrings; yellow-gold and diamond Etoilee necklace; and white-gold diamond Etoilee flexible cuff (prices on request), Buccellati. Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-866-8686. RIGHT: Gown, Roberto Cavalli ($4,250). Bal Harbour Shops, 9700 Collins Ave., 305-865-1749. Yellow- and white-gold diamond Etoilee pendant earrings; yellow-gold and diamond cuff; pink-gold and diamond Macri band; blackened gold Macri cuff bracelet; yellow-gold and diamond Etoilee cuff; yellow-gold and diamond Opera cuff; yellow-gold Opera band; and white- and yellow-gold emerald-cut diamond Opera ring (prices on request), Buccellati. Bal Harbour Shops, 305-866-8686. Tuctopen platform sandals, Christian Louboutin ($1,095). Miami Design District, 161 NE 40th St., 305-576-6820

What lessons do you hope to teach your kids that your parents taught you?
To not lose who they are and always be themselves. I hope they invite me on holiday with their kids and that I’m a good grandmother.

You’re already thinking about being a grandmother! Are no more kids in the cards for you?
I’m very happy with four children, and it’s great to not have anyone in diapers anymore. I can be more of a grown-up again now, so I don’t know, probably not.

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Categories: People Feature

photography by RANKIN. Styling by Inge Fonteyne. Styling assistance by Carolina Cuervo. Hair by Lorenzo Martin at The Wall Group. Makeup by Linda Hay at The Wall Group. Manicure by Tom Bachik for L’Oréal Paris/Cloutier Remix

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