MIGHTY HEIDI by Dennis Hensley
Heidi Klum is many things --supermodel, Project Runway host and executive producer, entrepreneur, wife, and mom--but one thing she isn't is guarded. Within minutes of meeting me for breakfast at The Beverly Hills Hotel, near the home she shares with her musician husband, Seal, and their three children, Leni, 4, Henry, 2, and Johan, 1, Heidi is cracking open her trusty date book and showing me the detailed system she has for keeping it all together. And the 35-year-old German-born beauty is more than happy to let me inspect, close up, the dazzling ruby heart necklace that Seal gave her on Valentine's Day. Then there's the current zit crisis: "I was just in Germany and I had too much chocolate," she confesses, pointing out a sizable pimple on her chin. "That's what happens."
For someone whose name and visage have been used to sell everything from lingerie to jewelry and perfume and now her new skin-care line, In an Instant, Heidi doesn't seem at all preoccupied with her image. When I ask one of my standby model questions--"Are you happy with your driver's license photo?" -- she laughs and says, "Oh, yeah. I just renewed my green card, and after they took my picture, they said, 'Do you want to see it?' I was like, 'No, I don't care.'"
Heidi seems very comfortable with all her many roles. In some moments, she sounds like a typical plate-spinning working mom, concerned about getting healthy meals on the table for her kids and frustrated with overcomplicated stroller construction ("Why can't they just put numbers on how to collapse it, like push 1, push 2, push 3, push 4? Honestly, the next thing I would want to do is a stroller."). Yet in other instances, it seems like Heidi has the most exotic life possible, full of unique, unforgettable experiences. Just last night, she was measured and photographed to be a wax figure for the new Madame Tussauds museum in Germany. Yet while Heidi seems to enjoy the wacky places her life takes her, it's when she talks about her home and family that she lights up the most. "I have a normal life and I have this glamorous life, but to me it's two different things," she says, over her hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, and sausage. "It's not like I'm this glamour diva who hands everything over and I just sit on my throne at home. When we're at home, we're cooking and doing things with the kids, driving them to school. We do the things that everyone has to do."
And she wouldn't have it any other way. "Life's just kind of perfect at the moment," she says, smiling. "You know the picture with the house and the picket fence and the kids are playing in the garden? It's kind of like that. The only thing missing is the dog."
Are you good at staying on top of all that you have to do?
I'm quite good at multitasking, but I have to do things immediately. I have a book where I write things down: major topics, deadlines, things like that. Every few months, I start a new book. [ She starts leafing through her notebook. ]
What are the photos in your book?
These were my Top Model looks. So episode 1 is these two outfits. Every week when the episode comes out, viewers go online that night and I can't have the wrong photo [on the website] for that episode. So I have to keep track of it all because I was the only one [at the filming].
Speaking of looks, your Valentine's Day necklace is beautiful. How did Seal present it to you?
Well, we weren't together because I was in Germany filming Germany's Next Topmodel . I had sent him this beautiful rose. The florist opens all the petals and then glues more petals around so it makes this gigantic rose. I was like, "I want one beautiful rose," but I had no idea they made such a great thing. I loved it. Then Seal sent me an email with a photo of a box on a pillow, and he said, "I have something waiting for you." When I came home two days later, I was like, "So where's my box?" He couldn't find it! He was looking everywhere and then he finally found it under the bed. And then there was this thing in there. I love it.
So you use emails and pictures to stay connected?
Oh, always. We do a lot of iChat too. I do that with my mom and dad all the time too. And I keep all my husband's letters or when I get flowers, the cards. I have a little box that I keep things in.
People don't usually write letters anymore. Well, he does.
Where did you and your husband first meet?
In New York, at the Mercer Hotel. I was in the lobby and he walked in. My friend introduced us and I told him to sit down.
So you took the initiative?
A little bit. He said, "I just came from the gym. I'm going to go shower and I'll come back," and I'm like, "You better!" And he did. He came back.
Was there instant chemistry?
Definitely. He's a very handsome man. You would think that he's very intimidating because he's so tall and strong, but he's really a gentle giant. It's a lovely thing when he puts his hand on my knee or he kisses me so passionately.
Is it a nice perk of the relationship to have music be a big part of your life?
Absolutely. I don't think I could not have been with an artist of some kind, someone creative. He's 45 years old and he does silly things with me. When we go to Disneyland, we have our faces painted every time.
You're also known for your over-the-top Halloween parties.
This year, I decided to be a cat and the year before, Seal was Eve from Adam and Eve and I was the apple because I was nine months pregnant. I actually got him women's shoes in his size from a real proper drag store in New York.
You just happen to have a drag store in your Rolodex?
Oh, yeah! That's where I went when I did my first Victoria's Secret show. I bought their highest heels to train in.
What's the secret to really shining in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show?
You can't take it too seriously. And you'd better know how to walk in the gigantic wings.
Does Seal ever say, "Hey, honey, can you bring those wings home for a night?"
[ Laughs ] No, but I have a lot of good outfits.
How did you know you and Seal were right for each other?
We seemed to know from the get-go. Just with everything--the way he is. He's very gentle and he wants to have a family and we like a lot of the same things. He's not very crazy and I'm not very crazy in terms of going out and partying. [It's about] looking for someone to get old with and having fun and obviously being physically attractive to each other.
When do you feel most beautiful?
I love when I go out and I have my hair and makeup done, but I also like it when I'm just with the family because that's real. Seal says it's when I'm pregnant. I always did feel beautiful when I was pregnant, but I do feel more me when I'm my normal size.
Did you have fun at the Oscars?
I did. I thought people would dress up more. I thought, If you don't do it there, where would you do it?
It's like the prom of Hollywood.
Did you grow up going to proms in Germany?
No, that's why we were really silly, my husband and I. I said to him, "Okay, go to the bottom of the stairs." And he went to the bottom of the stairs with a camera, of course. He always takes pictures. And then I waltzed down the stairs. I was like, "Where's my corsage?" It was funny.
What's the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night?
In the morning, we get ready and we drive Leni to school. Most of the time we go together. And at night before we go to bed? Cuddle. Cuddle and fall asleep. Most of the time we wake up and someone is coming to crawl into bed with us. We're lucky. We got good kids.
Do you two want more kids? We're not saying no way. So many people say, "I am so done." That hasn't come out of my mouth and it hasn't come out of Seal's mouth either. I feel like we still have one coming.
What do your kids do that makes you laugh?
Everything. We were in the pool the other day, and I said to my daughter, "Do you have to go to the potty?" She said, "Don't worry about it, Mom. I just peed in the pool. It's cool. Nobody knows." "Nobody knows!"
What have you learned from being a mother?
To be more simple. Sometimes random things that you wouldn't think mean anything mean so much to them. With kids, you can say, "Let's go pick some flowers" or "There's a snail. Let's investigate that." I was vacuuming, and Henry had fun cleaning up crumbs. It just brings you back to the simplicity of things.
What do you do to de-stress after a bad day? Do you talk things over with your husband?
Yeah. Or just go in the tub when we put the kids in the tub. They love it if you go in with them. "Come Mommy, climb in the tub."
Your show Project Runway is something of a pop culture phenomenon. Who's your most surprising fan?
Meryl Streep. I did this tiny thing in The Devil Wears Prada and she was like, "I watch Project Runway with my daughter all the time." A lot of people have said their children love it. I love that--but sometimes I curse and I shouldn't. I never think about a family audience watching.
One of my favorite moments in the show is your first entrance of every episode. You're always doing something cool.
I feel like it's part of what I should be doing, bringing a sense of fashion, showing people they don't have to be afraid to try different things, different hair, different makeup.
That also seems to be the way you approach your career, always branching out.
That's always been my thing. I kind of look where I am in this industry and where I fit in or don't fit in and then I try to maneuver through it.
Have you met a lot of resistance over the years? In the beginning, yeah. I was being rejected all the time. Agents would say, "I don't think you're the type they're looking for." I was always like, " You think? I don't want you to think. I want them to think that. This business is all about someone's opinion but not the agent or the manager's. How do they know? They're not that person. Get me in the door and I'll do the rest." And it happens or it doesn't happen.
And now you have your new skin-care line, In an Instant. What was the inspiration behind it?
You see so many people going out for plastic surgery, especially in this town, and I was like, "I'm not going to do that." I want to get older and I'm going to have wrinkles, but I'm going to find something that's affordable--that's nourishing and hydrating for your skin. It doesn't need to be expensive. So I wanted us to make a line, something that is easy to figure out. So [the products are set up as] step 1, step 2.... The five-step line has these amazing nourishing ingredients that are good for the long term, but they also have an immediate effect.
What was the most fun part of putting the line together?
The most fun was seeing the results. We have one product called the Wrinkle Smoother. It's like a spackle that you put in the cracks and then wash off at the end of the day. It's crazy. We tried it on my hands first and I was like, 'Oh, my god.' All the fine lines were gone!
Speaking of products, if you were to put out a talking Heidi Klum doll, what would she say when you pulled her string?
Hmm. Not "auf Wiedersehen." Maybe she could yodel. That would be funny. I should have a real dirndl on and yodel.
You seem like you'd be a good girlfriend.
I think so. My best girlfriend is in Germany. She's pregnant so every time I go home, I lug all my old things over to her.
What's your favorite thing to do when you're with your friends?
Probably go shopping. And gossip while we're shopping. I have a little Volkswagen bug, and my girlfriends and I drive around in it with the roof down, music on, and we go hopping from shop to shop, with little Starbucks runs. Multitasking yet again.