This post was written by Jennifer Ferrise and originally appeared on InStyle.com.
Heidi Klum is one of those rare, near-mythical humans who still looks exactly the way she did two decades ago, flapping her angel wings up and down the Victoria’s Secret runway. But even supermodels grow up. And following her 45th birthday earlier this summer, Heidi has adopted a decidedly refreshing perspective on aging.
“I don't really think about getting older that much — I mean, know it’s happening to me, it's happening to all of us,” she says. “But it’s not like I wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and say, ‘Oh my God, oh my God.’ Lately, I’m being reminded more about my age by people other than myself.”
Heidi, of course, is referencing the onslaught of media attention she’s received since she started dating 28-year-old Tokio Hotel guitarist Tom Kaulitz, who is, yes, 17 years her junior. The couple made their red carpet debut in May at the Cannes Film Festival’s amfAR Gala and have since documented their lazy Sundays and aww-inducing couple moments on Instagram.
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“My boyfriend is many years younger than me, and lots of people are questioning that and asking about it,” she says. “That's really the only time when age seems to be shoved in my face and I have to give an answer for it. I don't really think about it that much otherwise. You have to just live a happy life without worrying too much about what people think because worrying is only going to give you more wrinkles.”
Tabloid fodder is something that Heidi has learned to brush off over the years. But that doesn’t mean she likes being the subject of it. Just as often, though, the headlines make her laugh. “Sometimes they’ll compare a photo of me from 10 years ago, right after I had a baby, with a photo of me right now, and say, ‘Oh, she was curvier then, or her boobs were so much bigger.’ Yeah, they were so much bigger because I was breastfeeding! And I probably really needed to pump right then. You just have to come to terms with it.”
Good thing Heidi has a lot else to focus on. The model-turned-mogul and mom of four balances her business pursuits, as the creative director of Heidi Klum Swim and Heidi Klum Intimates, with her hosting and judging gigs on America’s Got Talent and Project Runway. Earlier this month, she also nabbed her ninth Emmy nod for Outstanding Host of a Reality Show Competition for her work on Project Runway (she took home the prize back in 2013), tying the record for the most nominations ever in the category.
Of course, she still models too. And when we caught up with her in Miami, she was celebrating her latest cover of Ocean Drive, where she’s posing in — what else? — her very own Heidi Klum-designed bikini.
Below, Heidi gets candid about what she’s like as a boss, the secret to the perfect selfie, and the most memorable swimsuit she’s ever worn.
Congrats on your Emmy noms! This is the 14th consecutive nomination for Project Runway—is it still exciting when you get that call?
Of course! I mean, can you imagine how unexciting it would be after so many years of getting an Emmy nod to all of a sudden not be a part of it? We literally hold our breath when they put out the nominations. And then when we heard, Tim [Gunn] and I were fist-bumping each other left, right, and center. Same with Zac [Posen]. This season was the first time that we had models of all sizes on the show, so we're proud of that. I'm hopeful we’ll win!
You’re in Miami for Swim Week. What inspired your latest swim collection?
I don’t like telling one story with my collections because that’s kind of boring. Women are just looking for what works for them, and so I like to offer a lot of options. We have bikinis and one-pieces with cool leaf prints, sexy cutouts, fun stripes, and great cover-ups and dresses too. I look at hundreds of prints because they can do wonders on a body. I always want my swimwear to work for many body types because we aren’t all the same size.
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A lot of women get frustrated when they’re swimsuit shopping. Any pro tips?
When I order clothes, I buy two sizes, sometimes three. That way when it arrives and you try it on, it won’t be too small. That’s always like, womp, womp. Then you can try them all on at home, in front of your own mirror. That's always key.
What’s the most memorable bikini you’ve ever worn?
Definitely the one I wore when I was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. But it was a one-piece, not a bikini. I didn't love it at that time because I always loved string bikinis or being topless and just hiding my breasts with coconuts or a leaf or something to make it more interesting. But they put me in this one-piece and that made it on the cover, so obviously I was like, "Wow!" I still have that bathing suit too. It’s in storage with all of my Halloween costumes and special pieces I’ve worn on the red carpet.
You’ve become the queen of the beach selfie … and the naked selfie. Pretty much all selfies! What’s the secret to taking a good one?
Oh, I don't know [laughs]. I'm coming from the world of modeling and I’ve always had a little bit of an art director inside of me. I love taking cool, fun photos. I literally just figured out how to do the self timer on my phone. Before, I was always like, "My arm is not long enough!" Now it’s a game changer because you don't need to hold it yourself and you can figure out how you want to lay and how to get your legs in there, and all that stuff.
What about the lighting? Are you pretty particular?
Well, light is absolutely important. Sometimes when I shoot with professional photographers and they have side lighting, I'm like, "Why are you doing that? I'm 45 years old. We're not trying to get artsy right now. Please give me some good light from the front." It's the same when fans come up for a selfie and the sun is on one side, I always tell them, “Let's turn this around.” You always have to find your light. Pictures look the best when they’re lit from the front or the back.
What’s one thing that’s always in your beach bag?
I love to play music on the beach, so I always have a little Beats Pill. If I’m with my kids, we’ll play be upbeat music, like Cascade. They love Drake too. If I’m by myself, it would be a little more like Marvin Gaye.
You’ve transitioned into the business world seamlessly with your swim and lingerie lines. How would you describe yourself as a boss?
Even though I’m the face and the creator of these things, you can't do anything by yourself. I have a great team around me that I've been working with for many years. I don't really let the boss in me hang out. I don't yell at people. I'm not speaking down to people. I'm appreciative of all the people around me who helped me get to the place where I am and continue to stay here.
What did you learn from your time on Project Runway that has made you a better designer?
A lot. But I learned a lot from being a model too. Many, many years ago I used to be a fit model—the one that was not hired for the actual job, but tried on all of the stuff while it was being made. So now, when my samples are being fit, and someone says, “This or that can't be fixed." I'm like, "Oh, I know this can be done because I’ve seen it done before.” I did not hatch out of my egg today. That’s when being the boss comes into play [laughs]. I just say it all in the nicest way possible.
Have you ever asked Tim Gunn's opinion on your designs?
No. I love him, but he has a very different style aesthetic than I have. Sometimes he doesn't love what I'm wearing because I'm a little bit more experimental with my choices. Sometimes I push the envelope a little bit more than others would or he would. Ultimately my designs come from my head and from my heart, though. I want to give women something cool. Not everyone wants to wear basics with a little twist. It's fashion!
See some of Heidi's hottest moments with SI Swimsuit: