Editor’s Note: Heidi Klum has expanded her career far beyond the realm of modeling with the hit reality television show “Project Runway,” for which she is host and co-executive producer. In a candid interview with wowOwow’s Liz Smith, Heidi talks about the show and more. Season five of “Project Runway” will premiere Wednesday, July 16th, at 9PM on Bravo.
LIZ: Are you planning other things? Do you have projects for yourself in the future? Are you just having this fun experience and waiting to see what will happen?
HEIDI: I always think about the next thing. I always do. I think that’s what got me here in the first place. I think that if you want to be successful … then I think that’s within you, and you kind of surround yourself with the right team to make things happen. I don’t think I got here by just doing everything by myself. You know, I had great help. I had great friends around me, I had a great team. You know, you have to bounce ideas off of people. And I never knew the right people to call but I would ask people who would know who to call. But I feel like that has to be within you. And that kind of person, I still am. I still am eager to do certain things because I still have ideas, and I want to make certain dreams come true and work on things … and I’m very passionate about creating things and making things.
LIZ: You know, this is interesting because once upon a time, a woman who became a model, she had a very limited and brief moment to enjoy that, and so maybe she went on to endorse things. But no one ever thought about becoming a real entrepreneur the way you have, so it’s extraordinary because it’s almost like you opened a new frontier.
HEIDI: I don’t know. I think it’s something that you can’t plan necessarily. Because it’s not — you know, you want to be a teacher and you then can do all these certain things that you have to do to become a teacher … or all the certain steps that you have to do to become a lawyer. Like in the entertainment industry, and being in front of the camera or even behind the camera, to come up with great ideas for a certain show, you never know if it gets picked up. How many great things are out there, ideas that people have but they necessarily don’t know the right people to ask. You know, it just kind of fell into place.
LIZ: Well, you see what I’m saying, though, that very few models in the past were ever able to do … a few of them would transform themselves into movie stars, like Lauren Hutton, but it was rare. That was rare. So what you’ve done is incredible.
HEIDI: Thank you.
LIZ: You know, you’ve had a rose named after you. I want to ask you: What more does a woman want after that?
HEIDI: I want it to be in this country, but I can’t bring it. It makes me very mad. It’s all over my mom’s garden, but I can’t even have it in my own garden because you’re not allowed to bring plants and food and all that crap into the country.
LIZ: Oh, that’s right, so it’s only in Germany.
HEIDI: Yeah, I would like to have it in my garden in LA, but I’m not allowed.
LIZ: Well maybe somebody professional, you know, a professional flower grower will bring it.
HEIDI: Yeah. And it’s a really nice rose. It’s beautiful
LIZ: Let’s see, “Project Runway” has been going for five years. Do you still feel fresh with it?
HEIDI: I do.
LIZ: Do you feel it’s evolved into more than you imagined?
HEIDI: It definitely evolved into more than I imagined. I mean, how can you expect for something like this to happen the way it did? It was an idea that we sold, and as I said before, how many ideas do people have? People want to have a show but who at the end of the day gets a show?
LIZ: Well, particularly, who gets to be the host, the judge and the executive producer of it? You run this thing, don’t you?
HEIDI: Well, not completely. No, there is a certain man, Mr. Weinstein, who has a little bit more of the running to do. He runs the ship and it is his show. At the end of the day I get to put my two cents in, and I certainly am never short of an idea or an opinion, but it’s fun and I like doing it. At the end of the day, they make it because of their talent or their personality. It’s completely them and they’re always different — so I think that’s what will keep the show exciting.
LIZ: Are you a tough boss?
HEIDI: I don’t think so, no.
LIZ: Just an old softie?
HEIDI: I should be a little tougher sometimes.
LIZ: I want to ask you one last question. Tell us what you think about sex, so we can do a great headline.
HEIDI: OK, I want to know first what you think about it.
LIZ: I definitely think it’s here to stay.
HEIDI: It’s definitely here to stay. It would be very boring without. It’s definitely one of the most fun things to do, you know.
LIZ: Doesn’t usually cost anything
HEIDI: Yeah, no.
LIZ: Do you feel you’re a sexy person? I felt when I was around your aura with your wonderful dynamic husband that you were both very sexy.
HEIDI: Thank you. I like it a lot.
LIZ: There’s my girl. OK you’re definitely a wowOwow…
HEIDI: And you know I have a very, very sexy man so that helps a lot.
LIZ: A LOT! There are millions of women who would feel sexier if they had your husband. Heidi, I haven’t seen you since we met the first time at the Vanity Fair party when you and your fabulous husband were seated across from me. I never really got a chance to talk to you but I did say to him at the end of the evening: “Are you two an item?” And he thought that was very funny.
HEIDI: And what did he say?
LIZ: He said: “Yes, definitely.”
HEIDI: Yeah, I got very lucky. I found the perfect man for me.
LIZ: Well, he is spectacular. Is he terribly proud of the accomplishments of his little woman?
HEIDI: I think he is. We don’t really throw across all the time, “I’m so proud of you, I’m so proud of you.” I think we just kind of are.
LIZ: Well it seems to me that your relationship is where you just kind of are. And it’s very unusual in this day and age with people who cover gossip and entertainment like I do, we’re always expecting breakups and explosions.
HEIDI: And you know those things do happen but they happen to people in the public eye and they happen to people who are not in the public eye.
HEIDI: You know, it’s just that when you’re so under the loop and people always look at you, it’s just more obvious when it happens.
LIZ: I found it refreshing that you seem to be so together and so happy. You know, I read the other day that you said that you were getting a blister and you had to sit down. “These damn shoes are killing me,” you said. We can’t believe that shoes bother you like they do every other American woman!
HEIDI: Sometimes it’s just too hard, you know? You have shoes these days that, a few years ago, I don’t think were ever that high and now it’s just normal for us to wear these high, high shoes with a platform and it’s kind of like walking on stilts. And it’s supposed to be normal.
LIZ: According to Stockerblog.com, the Heidi Klum Stock Index, which consists of companies that you have acted as spokesperson for, has outshined the Dow for the past six months. That’s really quite incredible. Heidi Klum Stock Index is down only 4% while the Dow is down 14%. Did you know this about yourself?
HEIDI: No, no.
LIZ: You don’t know your own strength?
HEIDI: No, I guess I don’t. I mean, I should pay more attention to these things. What can I do with that?
LIZ: Um, well I think your PR people probably are doing a lot with it already and your agents notice it and it makes everybody in the business say, “Wow, I mean, I can’t get over this. This is a beautiful woman. She’s supposed to naturally be brainless because she’s blonde and beautiful.” But just the opposite.
HEIDI: Well, you know, it’s a lot of good coloring.
LIZ: Let’s talk about, just for a second, about being beautiful. Do you have this inner feeling that you are? Do you ever look in the mirror and say, “Hi you beautiful thing?” Or is it just you’ve always been beautiful?
HEIDI: I don’t think I’ve looked in the mirror and actually said, “Hey, you beautiful thing.” No, but I have looked in the mirror and thought, “You don’t look too bad.” There are days where I say, “Wow, you’ve looked better.” But all in all, I’m pretty happy with myself.
LIZ: Well, your looks are a component of your success, but they are certainly not the only component.
HEIDI: I’m very happy with the way I look on a normal basis, you know, when I just wash my hair and I come out of the shower. I know for my work that, with the right team around me, I can walk into all these different vanities, so to speak. I know that I’m kind of a convertible in that sense, but I’m very happy with who I am when I’m just me.
LIZ: Well just remember you’re only 4% down — the Dow is down 14%.
HEIDI: I’m not doing too bad I guess.
LIZ: No you’re not. So I wanted to ask you one question that people told me I should ask you. Do you ever feel when you say “auf wiedersehen” to those poor people who failed on “Project Runway” that you’re being mean? Do you get any response that people say, “Oh, that’s horrible?”
HEIDI: No, I mean, it’s horrible for those people in that moment just to leave the show, period. But really “auf wiedersehen” is not a terrible word. And if you go, literally, what that word means …
LIZ: What does it mean?
HEIDI: It means, “I’ll see you again.”
LIZ: Yes. Like “a bientot.”
HEIDI: So it doesn’t mean you’ve fallen off the earth. I mean, it actually means, I’ll see you again. So it’s not like “you’re fired” or “you loser”…
LIZ: It’s not as terrible as, “You’re fired.”
HEIDI: No. It means: “I’ll see you again.”
LIZ: You know, a lot of people don’t like reality shows. The public loves them, though. Do you ever feel that you’re motivated to act certain unnatural ways, or are you just being yourself when you’re up there?
HEIDI: I think — now that I’m five years into the reality world — I’m more myself than I ever have been.
HEIDI: Yes, because in the beginning, I would want to say a lot of things — and I was holding back a lot. I thought that I had to be very nice and … and maybe people tend to think now that I’m meaner … I, you know, say negative things or negative comments to them if I don’t like something, now I kind of just say what I feel. If I love something I say “I love what you did this week,” to my designers. And if I don’t like something, I tell them and I tell them what I don’t like about it. And that is not purposely to be mean. It’s just my criticism, which is what I’m there for. I’m the judge.
LIZ: This is interesting because you don’t have to go into therapy doing this show. You’ve now realized your own potential. You’ve changed along with the show to some extent.
HEIDI: Well, I’m just more open about it. In the beginning, I was a little bit more private about it — or maybe I now say what a lot of people are thinking but they may be too afraid to actually say it. And, I don’t know, I just do now. I feel more comfortable in front of the camera and I think we all are. All of the judges, Michael and Nina … we say more of what’s on our mind now.
LIZ: In other words: it’s a reality show but it’s not being scripted to be mean or judgmental in any unreal way but, of course, it is a sort of contest. It’s an example of talent, maybe not so talented, maybe great.
HEIDI: And I always say at the end of the day, you count this on the gold scale. Whatever I say, or whoever says … that’s just our opinion. There are so many opinions, and it might be that someone else does not have the same opinion as I have — and I’m not saying what I say is right and it has to be right and this is what the law is. I’m just saying my opinion: “I don’t like this because of these reasons and I like this because of these reasons.” So, everyone has a different opinion, just on our show, it’s the three of us who sit in the judging panel … that make the decisions for our particular show.
LIZ: What have you learned about fashion doing this show or what has changed in your opinion? Do you think fashion has changed a lot?
HEIDI: I think fashion always changes, yeah. I mean, just looking at myself and how I’ve changed in the last five years. I’ve been doing “Project Runway” now for five years and I feel like I’ve gotten more experimental — with my hair, with makeup, with shoes, with clothes, it always changes. You always look for new things. I don’t want to always wear the same things. So in the same way how I’m always looking for new clothes to wear, we need new designers that make these new things. And sometimes they come up with things that I’ve seen before so I find them boring or repetitive. Or, sometimes they bring in old ideas and they twist them again and make them new — and make them their own — and that’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking for someone who has a new ideal, who has a new twist.
LIZ: That’s what people who don’t care about fashion always say. That it’s only repeating itself and it goes back and it feeds on itself — and everybody’s always stealing from what Yves Saint Laurent did … or somebody else in the past.
HEIDI: I mean, how many original ideas are there? I think it is OK not to borrow but to kind of get inspired by certain things. Sometimes I see something that inspires me to wear something a certain way, or to change my hair a certain way, and then I put my own twist to it. I think sometimes designers do that, too. I don’t think that’s necessarily wrong because they’re not copying it exactly as is. I think sometimes you see something that inspires you and you incorporate that into your own thoughts and your own way of doing things — and I think that’s OK.
LIZ: Do you wear your favorite things over and over? Or — because you’re so much in the public eye and so affiliated with this project — do you wear something different all the time? Do you try?
HEIDI: It’s funny that you say that because I just sold my apartment in New York and I have clothes, things, knickknacks and stuff that have accumulated for the past 14 years … and I can’t part from any of these things because I always think: they better be in fashion again at some point … so I do hold on to the things that I love.
LIZ: You’ll have to get a warehouse and save them.
HEIDI: Yeah, it’s a big problem. I have a very big problem with that. It’s the same with accessories, with shoes. If they’re not broken or if they’re not completely, you know, beaten to death, I kind of feel like I will work them into something again. I will, and I do sometimes. I mean there are a few things that I have honestly not worn in ten years — and who knows if I ever will — but I just can’t get rid of things. It’s terrible.
LIZ: I was just looking at you before you sat down and you have such a wonderful slim figure, and I know you had a baby not too long ago.You’ve got three children?
HEIDI: Yeah, three children.
LIZ: Have you changed a lot? I mean, do you feel your body has changed?
HEIDI: My body has changed, everything has changed.
LIZ: But you stay in shape!
HEIDI: I do stay in shape, yeah, because I want to be in shape. I want to be in shape. I want to be sexy for my man. I want to be good for my business — I still want to — but at the end of the day, I want to feel attractive, too. You know, and I think that’s why you do it ultimately.
LIZ: So you weren’t just born looking as perfect as this?
HEIDI: I don’t think anyone really is. I think just a very few people have that — that they can really, really, really do anything and nothing ever happens. I mean, I don’t really have to work out that much, but I have to kind of watch what I eat. And that doesn’t mean not eating anything; that means eating the right things and not eating too much bread and too much pasta and all those things.
LIZ: You know, on wowOwow.com, we did a feature on “Starter Husbands.” Could you just tell us one thing you ever learned from your experiences before Seal? With your other husband?
HEIDI: Experiences before? They’re all a buildup to the ultimate husband that I finally found! I think it’s all buildup. I think you have to go through different stages of different relationships and you always learn something and take something with you — something that you liked about that person, and other things that you don’t like about this person. And I think that helps you ultimately find the one that you hopefully stay with for the rest of your life.
LIZ: Well good, you were young enough to appreciate another husband. I finally decided no more marriage!
HEIDI: Actually, I like to be married. I like to be a woman for my man. I like to be the only one. I like that. I’m a little bit old-fashioned in that way. I like to be a mother and a wife to a husband and commit to that person.
LIZ: It’s a comment on society today that you can be that way. It’s unusual. You’ve spoken out against cosmetic surgery. I’m wondering, does this mean that down the road you’d never have it?
HEIDI: I don’t want to say I’ll never do it, because who knows how I’ll feel in ten, fifteen years? I can just talk about how I feel right now. And right now I feel fine with getting older. I feel fine with getting wrinkles. I think, personally, someone who grows old gracefully and has wrinkles to me is more attractive than someone who is completely done up in a way and you can just tell. I just don’t know if I like it so much.
LIZ: Well, there’s no question that a lot of people have overdone it.
HEIDI: Yeah, and I think that’s perfectly fine. I think that at the end of the day, everyone has to be happy with themselves, and if you prefer that then that’s great. I just can only speak for me. I think I prefer the wrinkles.