Model and television show host
Born June 1, 1973, in Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany; daughter of Gunther (a cosmetics company executive) and Erna (a hairdresser) Klum; married Ric Pipino (a hairdresser), 1997 (divorced, c. 2002); married Seal (a British pop star), May 10, 2005; children: Leni (with Italian businessman Flavio Briatore), Henry Gunther Ademola Dashtu Samuel (with Seal).
Addresses: Agent—William Morris Agency, One William Morris Place, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Contact—IMG Models, 304 Park Ave. S., Penthouse N., New York, NY 10010. Home—Los Angeles; London; New York. Publicist—Full Picture, 8899 Beverly Blvd., Ste. 412, West Hollywood, CA 90048.
Won German national modeling contest in her late teens; did catalog work for J.C. Penney, Chadwick's and Newport News, early 1990s; runway model for Victoria's Secret, 1990s—; landed on cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, 1998; appeared on cover of Vogue, Marie Claire, Arena, Elle, GQ, and other prominent fashion magazines, late 1990s—; made television guest appearance debut on Spin City, 1998; made film debut in Zoolander, 2001; host of television reality show, Project Runway, 2004—.
Awards: Named one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People, " 2001.
Most supermodels begin to fade away in their 30s, but German knockout Heidi Klum was just getting started. With an entrepreneurial eye, Klum used her cover girl status to make a brand name of herself and has successfully launched her own fragrance, clothing, and jewelry lines, as well as a footwear line through Birkenstock. In 2004, Klum's fashion-driven reality television show, Project Runway, hit the air and secured an Emmy nomination, ensuring Klum will not disappear from the limelight anytime soon.
The youngest of two children, Klum (pronounced Kloom) was born on June 1, 1973, in Bergisch-Gladbach, Germany. Klum's mother, Erna, worked as a hairdresser, while her father, Gunther, was an executive with a large German cosmetics company. Kloom watched her father work hard to achieve success in his career, and she adopted a similar style. "My father was always early out of the house and coming home late, " Klum recalled in an interview with Sara Vilkomerson, which was published in the Ottawa Citizen. "I saw that in order to make money—we didn't have a lot, but we did do things like go on holiday—I understood it was because my father worked so hard."
As a teenager, Klum became interested in fashion and at 18 she was accepted into a design school in Dusseldorf, Germany. Klum never considered modeling until one day, while thumbing through a magazine with a friend, she noticed an advertisement for a modeling contest sponsored by Petra magazine and a New York modeling agency. At the urging of her friend, Klum decided to enter the contest and the two sent off some Polaroids. Five months later, contest officials notified Klum that she had made the first-round cut in the national contest. In the end, Klum stood out above the field of 30, 000 entrants and won the title of "Ms. Model 1992."
Winning the contest garnered Klum instant notoriety and the chance to sign with a modeling agency, which sent her to Paris and Milan, though her career failed to ignite. Standing five-feet-nine-inches tall and with a curvy frame, Klum did not fit in with the angular, waif-like models that were popular in the early 1990s. Agency staffers kept tabs on her body measurements and suggested she lose weight. Frustrated, Klum asked to be relocated and ended up in the United States, where she picked up catalog work for J.C. Penney, Chadwick's and Newport News. Klum, however, yearned to appear on the runway so she switched agencies and told her new agency she wanted to try for a spot with the lingerie company Victoria's Secret. The agency did not think it was a good fit and initially refused, but Klum would not give up. "You can't wait for things to come to you, especially in this business, " Klum told the Ottawa Citizen's Vilkomerson.
Victoria's Secret hired Klum and she made a splash strutting down the runways wearing jewel-studded bras. This work led to a 1997 appearance on Late Show with David Letterman, where she surprised the audience with her yodeling. Afterward, Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition editor Elaine D'Farley received a copy of the show. Although D'Farley knew that Klum lacked the portfolio and experience of the models Sports Illustrated typically used, she decided to take a chance on Klum. Viewing the tape, D'Farley caught a glimpse of Klum's alluring charm, which she figured would translate well into photographs. Not only did Klum get invited to the shoot, the green-eyed blonde ended up on the cover of the 1998 swimsuit edition and quickly became one of the profession's top-earning models. She ended up on the covers of Vogue, Marie Claire, Arena, Elle and GQ.
In 1997 Klum married celebrity hairdresser Ric Pipino, who was 18 years her senior. The marriage lasted five years. After her divorce, Klum dated Italy's Renault Formula One race team boss Flavio Briatore. After they split, Klum gave birth to their daughter, Leni, in May of 2004. Klum later married British singer-songwriter Seal and they welcomed the birth of their son, Henry Gunther Ademola Dashtu Samuel, on September 12, 2005.
Klum believes this relationship will endure. "Seal and I are a great couple because we're very attracted to each other, " Klum told Cindy Pearlman in the Chicago Sun-Times. "We compliment each other. I'm Speedy Gonzales. I do a million things at once. Seal likes to focus. He puts everything into talking to the baby or brushing Leni's hair…. This man takes his time to love. I love that about him."
Though Klum still models, she has other interests. She has her own line of perfume and swimsuits and a line of jewelry for Mouawad, which raked in millions its first year. Klum also designed a line of Birkenstocks made from frayed denim, pony hair, and jewels, hoping the "punk" shoes would appeal to a broader audience. Unlike many celebrities, Klum will not endorse a product unless she has been involved in its development. "I need to have complete control over how something is going to look if my name is going to be attached to it, " she told the Daily Telegraph's Bryony Gordon.
Klum's popularity earned her appearances on episodes of Spin City and Sex in the City. She also made it to the big screen, with small roles in 2001's Zoolander and Blow Dry, as well as 2004's Ella Enchanted. It was on television, however, as host of Project Runway, that Klum really hit her screen stride. The highly popular reality television show debuted on Bravo in December of 2004, earning an Emmy nomination as well as second-season renewal.
The show features up-and-coming fashion designers competing for money—and recognition—to help launch their own lines. Host Klum puts the contestants through the paces in what can only be described as a fashion design boot camp. One of Klum's favorite exploits is the "clothes off your back" challenge, where contestants are asked to make a new outfit from whatever they are wearing at the moment.
Klum also published a book, Heidi Klum's Body of Knowledge: 8 Rules of Model Behavior (to Help You Take Off on the Runway of Life). One message Klum drives home in the book is that people should never give up on their dreams. Speaking to Redbook' s Jennifer Graham, Klum related the story of how her modeling agency told her she would never do magazines but she refused to listen. "My book's message is about trying different things and not being afraid of getting pushed back sometimes. It's about being creative to get ahead."
(With Alexandra Postman) Heidi Klum's Body of Knowledge: 8 Rules of Model Behavior (to Help You Take Off on the Runway of Life), Crown, 2004.
Chicago Sun-Times, November 27, 2005, p. 2.
Daily News (New York), December 7, 2005, p. 103.
Daily Telegraph (London, England), February 6, 2003, p. 19.
Ottawa Citizen, March 12, 2005, p. I7.
People, May 14, 2001, p. 140.
Redbook, February 2005, p. 90.