Heidi Klum is one of the most recognized supermodels in the world. The 47-year-old has been seen on the cover of pretty much every big magazine in the world, and has modeled for classic fashion brands and enjoyed a 13-year run as a Victoria’s Secret Angel.
Now, the next generation of Klum is taking the world by storm. Alongside her mother, Klum’s daughter Leni Klum, 16, posed on the cover of Vogue. And she really is the spitting image of her mother!
Heidi Klum’s done pretty much everything as a model. Aside from gracing the covers of magazines all over the world and taking to runways for global fashion brands, the German native has expanded her own brand in several other business areas, as well as performing as a television host and singer.
But foremost, Heidi Klum has always been keen on family, putting them first. While her children have grown up, she’s made sure that they’ve been able to maintain a private life, in contrast to many other celebrity children.
Now, however, her eldest daughter Leni has turned 16 and looks set to go down the same career path as her mother. For now, at least. Together with Heidi, Leni’s appeared on the cover of the latest Vogue. It’s safe to say she looks so much like her mother.
But how did Heidi Klum make it all the way to the top from a small town in Germany? This is her story.
Heidi Klum was born on June 1, 1973, in the city of Bergisch-Gladbach outside of Cologne, Germany.
Heidi Klum – childhood
Her father worked in the cosmetics industry, while her mother was a hairdresser, and perhaps that’s where her interest in fashion came from.
She was raised in a middle class family, and as she recalls, it was a nice childhood.
“We weren’t poor, but we didn’t have a lot of stuff,” she explained in an interview with Forbes.
As a young child, Heidi was always known as “the pretty girl”. She loved dancing in school, but at the same time it wasn’t something she felt was a viable career option. However, other opportunities were just around the corner for Klum, who soon would begin her career in modeling.
In 1992, at the age of 19, Heidi Klum won a televised model contest in Germany. The funny thing? She walked down the runaway to the song Crazy, sung by her future husband, Seal.
The prize of a modeling contract was worth a staggering $300,000. She started to work across Europe, as well as launching a perfume together with her father. As she would come to realize, though, success was hard to find in the beginning. Klum decided to move to Miami, and later to New York, but her initial time in the US was harsh indeed.
Moving to New York
Along with some fellow models, she stayed in an apartment on the Lower East Side, and spent her days going to castings. Even though her career didn’t really break explode straight away, Klum never wanted to run back to Europe.
“I cried a few nights a week,” she told Forbes. “But I didn’t want to go home a failure.”
Before long, her luck changed and she started to get modeling work. Then, in 1997, things changed forever when Klum signed with Victoria’s Secret. It would prove to be a contract that would help her to the top of the modeling industry, and the talented Klum soon conquered the world.
After being featured in the first Victoria Secret Catalogue, as well as being classes as an “Angel”, Klum was soon the one model on everyone’s lips.
“She had all the confidence in the world,” Ed Razek, the senior creative director at Victoria’s Secret since the mid-1990s, said.
“She stared right into the camera and developed a relationship with the customer. Women loved her. She was beautiful and physically amazing but not intimidating.”
Heidi Klum came from a different culture, or at least a culture that would make her life in the fashion industry easier.
“I come from a place where we’re not that shy about our bodies,” she noted.
Heidi Klum – Victoria Secret
She had no problem with taking off her clothes, and in 1998, that would help her with one of her most memorable covers when she posed in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Klum had gotten herself to the very top. Since then, she’s appeared on more than 150 magazine covers, as well as becoming the spokesperson for global brands like McDonald’s and H&M. She’s also been on shows, as well as enjoyed cameos in feature films.
In 2010, her contract with Victoria’s Secret expired. But that didn’t mean her career was over at all. No, instead, Klum’s proven herself to be a fierce business woman, as well as a wonderful mother.
Heidi Klum married stylist Ric Pipino in 1997, though five years later, the couple split. Soon after, Klum started dating Italian Formula 1 Manager Flavio Briatore, and in 2003, their relationship went public.
Heidi Klum – private life
Just a few months later, in December of 2003, Heidi Klum announced that the couple were expecting their first child.
However, Flavio and Heidi went their separate ways. Instead, their first-born child would eventually be adopted by Klum’s next husband, Seal.
Heidi Klum gave birth to her daughter, Leni Klum, in May of 2004, and at the same time, Seal was becoming a part of the their family. In August of 2003, just a few weeks following the split from Briatore, Heidi Klum had bumped into Seal in the Mercer Hotel lobby in New York City.
It all happened quickly, but the two seemed to be meant for each other.
“I was not looking for anybody,” Klum told MarieClaire. “He was just there. He walked in the door, and there he was, he looked good. I was like, Wow.”
When asked what attracted her to him, she explained: “Well, I mean, have you ever met him?” Klum asked. “He’s a very big man, very dark, very intriguing — and it’s like a mystery, do you know what I mean? He has these dark eyes, and they’re very intense. But he is a gentle giant. He is so warm, and he is so well-mannered, so like a gentleman.”
Quickly, the couple grew fond of each other, and in December the following year, Seal proposed to Heidi Klum in the Canadien Rockies.
“He took me by helicopter,” Klum recalls. “He had an igloo built there, and they’d brought up everything: a bed with sheets inside the igloo, rose petals everywhere. Very, very romantic! There was food and champagne, and then the helicopter left. It was a little scary, too, because you’re so cut off from the world. No trees, nothing — it was hard-core. But I was ecstatic. I loved it. It was wonderful.”
In 2015, on a beach in Mexico, the two got married and that same year, Seal and Heidi welcomed their son, Henry. Just 18 months later, son Johan arrived, and in 2009, they welcomed daughter Lou. Seal also adopted Leni as his own daughter.
Seal and Heidi Klum took care to keep their children’s lives private, not sharing too many pictures of them and so on.
Heidi Klum – children
Throughout the years, Heidi Klum’s learned plenty about what motherhood really means.
“There is no book that tells you exactly how it [motherhood] is,” she told Popsugar. “You have to just be free, roll with it, and learn as you go. You always have to do what your gut tells you. It’s about doing what you think is the right thing to do in all situations, and I think as moms, we’re always trying to just do our best.”
At the end of 2012, Heidi Klum and Seal released a statement saying that they’d split. The “super-couple” was no more, but the most important thing for both of them was keeping their children out of any disagreements they might have had.
“While we have enjoyed seven very loving, loyal and happy years of marriage, after much soul-searching we have decided to separate. We have had the deepest respect for one another throughout our relationship and continue to love each other very much, but we have grown apart,” a statement released by the couple read.
“We thank our family, friends, and fans for their kind words of support. And for our children’s sake, we appreciate you respecting our privacy.”
Today, Klum is once again happily married.
Heidi Klum – new husband
In 2019, she tied the knot with musician Tom Kaulitz.
“We met in February 2018 — and honestly I would have married him that day, probably!” she told Closer Magazine. “I was surprised when he asked, but I was kind of thinking it was going to go that way because we just clicked.”
Heading into a new relationship with children – especially teenagers – can be tough. But, according to Klum, it’s been nothing but great.
“The kids adore Tom. They can’t wait for the wedding!” she stated. “They’ll be very involved in it all.”
Now, Heidi Klum and Kaulitz have started their new life together with Klum’s children. And for her eldest daughter Leni, a new career has just started.
It turns out Leni’s actually going down the same career path as her mother. Just a couple of weeks ago, the two had their first real photoshoot together.
It’s safe to say, they pretty much look like twins!
There aren’t many people who know what Leni Klum actually looks like.
Leni Klum – daughter of Heidi Klum
When she grew up, her mother made sure that paparazzi photographs of her children were always were pixelated for their protection. But now, Leni’s old enough to do her own thing.
The now-16-year-old has always wanted a career in fashion, and now it looks as though she’s got one.
“It was only a matter of time before I would try to become a model myself,” she told Vogue. “The first offer came when I was only 12 or 13, from a brand I liked to wear: Brandy Melville. At that time I begged my mother, but no chance. Now I understand that it would have been too early.”
Heidi Klum says that 16 is a good age for her eldest daughter to start her career in the modeling world. To that end, being on the cover of Vogue couldn’t be a better start.
Not only does she look just like her mother, but she can apparently match Heidi’s energy as well.
“That’s what’s great about being a model,” Leni Klum explained. “With most other jobs, I would have to suppress my crazy nature to make a ‘professional’ impression. As a model, I can let everything out and just be who I am. The job is the perfect outlet for all the energy I carry inside me.”
As mentioned, Leni and her siblings were very positive when their mother Heidi met Tom Kaulitz.
Cover of Vogue
Leni actually even helped out with his proposal, buying her mother breakfast when Tom having the ring. He also apparently asked for their permission to propose to Heidi Klum.
Leni Klum has only had her Instagram account active for about 10 months, but she’s already amassed over 500,000 followers.
On her page, Leni has posted several pictures, including behind-the-scenes material from the Vogue shoot alongside her mother. And, of course, she’s been sure to praise her mother Heidi as well.
On Mother’s Day, Leni posted a picture of when she was a little girl, together with Heidi.
“Happy Mother’s Day to my gorgeous best friend. I love you mama,” the caption read.
“I feel like we’re besties and I tell her everything,” Leni Klum told Vogue.
The modeling industry and the fashion world can be a rough place, but we’re sure that Leni Klum has all the best people around her to help her pursue her dreams of being a model. And of course, her biggest and best supporter Heidi Klum will always be there.
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