Supermodel Mom of Four Heidi Klum Opens Up to Tim Gunn
TV host, reality-show judge, fashion designer, and mother of four—Heidi Klum does it all. Here, she talks to her Project Runway costar, Tim Gunn, about winning an Emmy, balancing work and family, and her favorite “splashy” Hamptons destination.
Polka-dot halter gown, Juan Carlos Obando ($3,150). Barneys New York, 660 Madison Ave., NYC, 212-826-8900. 18k yellow-gold and diamond Love bracelet, Cartier ($10,700). Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Blvd., 516-627-3200. Rustic green diamond marquis studs ($3,167) and baguette knife-edge ring band with white diamonds ($1,600), Lizzie Mandler
As the host of of America’s Got Talent and judge on Project Runway and Germany’s Next Top Model, Heidi Klum is a multi-hyphenate dynamo. Recently she added designer to her extensive résumé, with the creation of Truly Scrumptious, a line of whimsical yet stylish clothing, accessories, and furniture for kids available at Babies “R” Us stores nationwide as well as a fitness-meets-fashion collaboration with New Balance.
And as much as audiences have fallen for the German-born stunner, her Project Runway costar and co–Emmy Award winner, Tim Gunn, is equally smitten. “As incredibly stunning and gorgeous and beautiful as Heidi is in print, on camera, on film, and on television, in person Heidi takes your breath away,” says Gunn. “There was a time she had her hand in mine and I looked at her and said, ‘Even your knuckles are stunning.’”
In the Hamptons, the mother of four (to daughters Leni, 10, and Lou, 5, and sons Henry, 9, and Johan, 8) is more likely to be found on the water slides of Splish Splash than parading down a red carpet in flashy new fashions. Here, she talks candidly about the challenges of balancing it all.
Tim Gunn: Compared to you, I feel like I am floating in ether, because Heidi, honestly, I don’t know how you do it all. I just have me, while you have four kids.
Heidi Klum: That’s the part that can sometimes get a little tricky, because I want to make time for my kids. This morning is the first day in the six days of shooting America’s Got Talent I got picked up at 8:45, but I still had to get up at 6 am and make breakfast and be there with my kids because I shoot till 9 pm. At least I can spend a little time with them in the morning....
You made the most incredible video. I don’t know how many people are aware of it, but it was called “I Have To Do Everything Around Here,” and it was a bunch of scenes at Project Runway where you were the producer, the director, you were miking people, doing the hair and makeup, the lighting, vacuuming the runway, getting my lunch.... Talk a little about what the real behind the scenes is like.
The real behind the scenes is not that crazy—I don’t do Nina’s hair and I don’t get your lunch. But we do have a lot of meetings with the producers and the network. We talk about how the next season looks, what our challenges are, and how we can put different twists on things to keep it fresh for our audience and also for our designers and for us. We talk about what things went wrong or if one of the designers packed their bags in the middle of the night and ran off. Things happen, and we have to deal with it.
Halter dress with large sash, Juan Carlos Obando ($3,125). Barneys New York, 660 Madison Ave., NYC, 212-826-8900. 18k yellow-gold and diamond Love bracelet, Cartier ($10,700). Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Blvd., 516-627-3200. Rustic green diamond marquis studs ($3,167) and baguette knife-edge ring band with white diamonds ($1,600), Lizzie Mandler
That’s one of the things I love about the show—it really is real. We don’t do anything that’s false; we just let things happen. What’s your favorite part of the show?
We have talented designers who normally wouldn’t be able to have a voice, and we give them a platform. Even if they don’t make it, it is still an amazing experience for them to show their talent to millions of people across America. Then when we have a winner, they really get a kick-start into the industry they want to be in. Every year we have 15 or 16 players on the stage, and they are always with the sparkly, wanting eyes. I look at them, and I think, They are not actors; they are real people who have passion, and we can help push them along a little bit and that’s exciting for me.
I share that with you, and I will also add that what’s so great for season 13 is that the economy is so much better than it has been for so many past seasons; that’s a real advantage for our designers.
Absolutely. It’s even hard for big designers to stay [in business]. I look at Christian Siriano and the stuff he is doing with Payless; he is on Oprah and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. We have had some real success stories come out of our show, and I’m so proud of that.
How do you balance family and work?
When I have days off, I pile that time with fun things for the kids to do. We go to the beach and play in the sand or they go in the ocean or we go on a bike ride or do a picnic with friends. They go to soccer, ballet, or karate, or we do play dates at the house with big barbecues or swimming parties, and we have a trampoline outside. We go on hikes with the dogs. When I do Project Runway in New York, all those days when the designers are working and I’m off, I do things with my kids. I go and see all of the Broadway shows, or we take the double-decker bus around the city and see all of the highlights of New York City or we go to the Statue of Liberty. I always think of things for them to do to keep them entertained and make it memorable. On days when I’m shooting, they go to school.
Striped silk long-sleeve blouse with sash ($650) and blush silk charmeuse ball skirt ($2,875), Juan Carlos Obando. Barneys New York, 660 Madison Ave., NYC, 212-826-8900. Metal sunglasses, Oliver Peoples ($405). Optical Shop of Aspen, 53 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, 329-4318. 18k yellow-gold and diamond Love bracelet, Cartier ($10,700). Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Blvd., 516-627-3200. Rustic green diamond marquis studs ($3,167) and baguette knife-edge band with white diamonds ($1,600), Lizzie Mandler
I feel more exhausted hearing this.
Sometimes it is. Sometimes being with the kids can actually be more exhausting than going to work because I have four of them. New York is a crazy city, so my eyes have to be everywhere. They can’t walk around without holding hands. There are a lot of rules when we move around the city, but they don’t know it any other way because we have been shooting Project Runway for so many seasons.
Do you bring the kids out here to the Hamptons?
I do. I get a nine-person passenger van, and we all pile in and come to the Hamptons for the weekend. We love the concrete jungle, but sometimes it’s nice for them to go to the beach or sometimes we go to Splish Splash. I told [Project Runway judge] Nina [Garcia] and she said, “You can’t get me to Splish Splash; I can’t go and be in a bathing suit.” And I said, “No, you have to go to Splish Splash.” Now she loves it, and she sees how much my kids love it, too. It’s fun. Maybe you ought to come with my kids and me.
My trouble is that I never have days off when we’re shooting.
Well, that’s not good. See, you need to plan better. We might have to work on the schedule so you can come with my kids and me to Splish Splash.
Black and cream polka-dot silk halter dress, Juan Carlos Obando ($3,150). Barneys New York, 660 Madison Ave., NYC, 212-826-8900. 18k yellow-gold and diamond Love bracelet, Cartier ($10,700). Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Blvd., 516-627-200. Rustic green diamond marquis studs ($3,167) and baguette knife-edge band with white diamonds ($1,600), Lizzie Mandler
Independent of the kids, what is your favorite part about the Hamptons?
It’s just mellow. I see a lot of people I normally wouldn’t see that much and people I haven’t seen in a while. I have a lot of friends who have houses out here, so I go and visit them with the kids and then we do barbecues and we hang around the pool. It’s nice to spend the weekend in the Hamptons and get out of the madness of New York City.
Can you believe we’ve done 13 seasons of Project Runway?
It’s amazing; we didn’t expect that in the same way that I didn’t expect to find such an amazing jewel like yourself.
Oh, you are so lovely to say that.
When we sold the show, we didn’t really have you in mind for it. Then there you were and we were like, “He’s amazing, and we have to work him fully into the show,” because you are one of a kind. You are not only so knowledgeable and have been in the industry for so long, but you are also so much fun. You gave us one of the biggest catchphrases: “Make it work.” You couldn’t have written it, you couldn’t have planned it, sometimes things just happen and you just go with it.
That’s what I think is wonderful about the show. We didn’t chase it; we didn’t push it; we just did it, and people responded to it. I want to confide in you—I still get so starstruck in your presence that I break out in a hot sweat.
No, you don’t! You’re a mess for that. You are so cute; I love you, Tim; I really do.
Striped basket weave dress, Roland Mouret ($2,117). 18k yellow-gold and diamond Love bracelet, Cartier ($10,700). Americana Manhasset, 2060 Northern Blvd., 516-627-3200. Rustic green diamond marquis studs ($3,167) and baguette knife-edge band with white diamonds ($1,600), Lizzie Mandler
We even got to experience winning an Emmy Award together last year.
We were a little bit tipsy because we went on stage at the beginning of the Emmys, then we had three hours in between presenting and our award. We said, “Let’s have a glass of Champagne. We are looking fabulous; we are in a fabulous mood; we are excited to be nominated and nervous.” We ran across the street to the Marriott and got a little tipsy. The producers came [and got us before our award]. We were sitting in the front row, and on stage Neil Patrick Harris says, “Okay, next category, reality television.... and here are the nominees.... and the winners are Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum.” Whatever happened in that moment I can’t properly recall because we had a few glasses of Champagne and I couldn’t believe that they said our names. I feel like you talked the whole time, and I was the echo.
I don’t remember a thing I said. I only remember that we got backstage after we had our trophies in hand and we looked at each other and asked, “What did we just say?” And we didn’t know.
I was so nervous and relieved at the same time because we have been working on Project Runway for so many years. All of a sudden when they say your name, you feel relieved.
It was incredible. Pamela Fryman, who was the director of How I Met Your Mother, said, “You two were adorable.” We were.
Where do you have your Emmy?
It’s in my kitchen.
That’s fun! I have a home office, and I have it on my big desk. It’s like right there staring at me all of the time. Thank you for doing this interview with me!
I love and adore you, and I’m the luckiest guy in the world to be able to call you a friend. I would do anything for you, anytime, anywhere.
Then I would love for you to do a home-cooked meal for me and invite me to your house one night and I can bring my children. After all of these years, I would love to see where you live, how you live, and I would love to have a home-cooked meal. You said that you would do anything and everything I want—that’s my wish
We’ll do it. It will be an honor and a privilege—consider it done.
Photography by Kenneth Cappello; Styling by Maryam Malakpour; Beauté: Wella Professionals Ocean Spritz Beach Texture Hairspray ($16) and Oil Reflections ($40). Hair by Eric Gabriel for The Rex Agency using Wella Professionals Makeup by Sabrina Bedrani at traceymattingly.com. Manicure by April Foreman at The Wall Group. Shot on location at a Malibu, California, beach estate found on Airbnb.