The fall season is coming in hot, and for many women around the country, this means swapping sundresses for sweaters while keeping an eye out for new pieces to add to an autumn wardrobe. It can be difficult, though, to find the right balance between cute fashion and affordability.
Enter Heidi Klum.
The supermodel/designer/multi-show judge/mother/superwoman is partnering with the global supermarket chain Lidl on a brand new collection, Esmara by Heidi Klum. Klum was inspired by New York for the line, and the collection ranges from $6.99 to $29.99, apart from a leather jacket priced at $49.99.
Klum doesn’t just talk the talk with Esmara though, and it shows. When she sat down with InStyle to give us the inside scoop on the line, her entire outfit (jacket, blouse, jeans, shoes) was from the Lidl collaboration and totaled a shockingly low $65. She even wore a full leopard Esmara suit on America's Got Talent, much to the surprise and delight of her fellow judges (Klum says they couldn't believe how much it cost when she told them, and we believe it).
The collection comes out Sept. 21 in Lidl stores nationwide, but in the meantime, InStyle caught up with Klum directly about the importance of designing for more than just models, whether she'd ever return to the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show catwalk, and what Esmara is really all about. Read the interview below.
VIDEO: Heidi Klum x Lidl
InStyle: Lidl is known internationally for selling produce, and it's opening a lot of stores in the United States this year while starting this line with you. What was the design process like collaborating with them?
Heidi Klum: It starts in my head. Even though I have a whole team, they first had to understand how involved I am. I basically did everything apart from sewing the clothes, because that I can’t do. I thought a lot about New York while designing—I love New York, this is where my first stop was in 1994, and I lived here for 15 years, so I wanted this to be New York inspired.
In New York, people are from all over the place. It's all a mixed bag of people and influences, so for me, it was the urban jungle. In the jungle, there are animals, and that's why you see a lot of leopard print throughout the line. I also added a pop of color, because when you come into the store you need something that is bright and also that goes with all the pieces that are made. I chose cobalt blue because I think it looks cool and looks good on most skin colors, and I really tried to design the line in a way where everything mixes and matches together. Anything I take off and swap with another collection piece will go together.
IS: Do you have a favorite piece?
HK: Of course I love everything, but I really love the leopard, that’s why I wore a leopard piece the other day on America’s Got Talent because I wanted to shock everyone by the price. They said, "Oh sexy leopard girl," and I was like, "This entire outfit $60." Everything goes together, so I feel like I can make a woman’s life a little bit easier by giving her a lot of pieces so she can have a lot of different looks.
IS: Why was it important to you to have that balance between the look and the affordability?
HK: I want to make clothes that women can actually wear. It’s one thing to be super creative and come up with the weirdest most avant-garde thing where it’s all for the art—and I love that too because I love art and I love creating things—but what’s that going to do for anyone? Where is someone wearing it going to go? Not a lot of people have the opportunity to go on a red carpet, and when you go on a date, do you really want to wear something that’s so avant-garde? You don’t.
I tried to really make cute things that women of all ages and sizes can wear. I think that a young person looks really great in my clothes, but I’m also thinking about my mom, who is 73. I know that she will look good in a lot of these pieces, the leopard trench coat, or even the blazer that’s super chic. It’s for everyone, really.
IS: How has being a judge and host on Project Runway informed your design process?
HK: I think everything kind of influences you a little bit, and my modeling career has too. I started as a hand model. That's what I got the most jobs for when I was younger. Most of my books was just hands, and I always had to wear jewelry or hold thing. Then I started fit modeling. There was a catalog called Newport News in America, and I was kind of their girl because I did a lot of work for them.
I would never just stand there. I'd say, 'I don’t think this looks good, I think you should do it like that, I would never wear that.' And they’d be like, 'Really?' But then, after a few years of working with them, they'd start to ask what I thought about things. [With Project Runway,] I’ve seen how clothes are made, the process that they go through, and it's made it easy for me to slip in and do my own work.
IS: Like a fish to water.
HK: It’s not that hard for me to do this, and I love doing it.
IS: On the new season of Project Runway, there are different sizes of models, instead of just one size like in past seasons. What spurred the change and what do you think of it?
HK: Finally curvy women and women of all sizes are more accepted. It's crazy, but I experienced it myself when I was younger. When I just started in the modeling industry, I won my modeling contest at 19, and I went to Paris. I tried so hard to get into a fashion show, but I would never fit. At that time, the girls were so thin that even when I was lucky enough to get the call to try something on, I would never fit into it because everything was just cut a different way.
It is wonderful that finally the fashion industry is getting more realistic because fashion is for everyone. Fashion is not just for models. When you walk down the street in New York or in any city in the world, not everyone is a model-size walking down the street, so who are you really designing for? Are you just designing to pat yourself on the back? You have to design for real people, and they come in all different shapes and sizes and age groups and shorter and taller and more voluptuous and some are thinner and everything in between. So if you want to be a good designer you have to be able to create for everyone.
VIDEO: See the "Intimate" Gift Heidi Klum Gave Seth Meyers
IS: We totally agree. The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is coming up, would you ever walk in it again?
HK: I have my own line now so I don’t think Victoria’s Secret would like having Heidi Klum Intimates sneaking in there, but I don’t know!
IS: You never know, maybe you could collab.
HK: Yeah, there would be a music change, and then boom, Heidi Klum Intimates coming down from the ceiling.
IS: We would definitely watch that.
HK: I know, maybe I should. No, I had an amazing time with them, I worked with the company for over 14 years and we were an absolute amazing family, but it was time for me to move on. I like to do my own thing, and I always have, so I don’t think I will be walking anytime soon. But I’ll be watching!
This interview has been edited and condensed.