By  on December 13, 2005

NEW YORK — With Heidi Klum of "Project Runway" at his elbow, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave the designer reality show a plug Monday and unveiled an initiative to give the city's Garment Industry Development Corp. a shot in the arm.

Dresses designed by contestants will be auctioned at projectrunway.auction.shopthescene.com on the day after each episode, with 50 percent of the proceeds earmarked for the GIDC. In addition, the city will pony up a $244,000 grant to the GIDC to train and improve the skills of garment workers.

Bloomberg said at a press conference at Parsons the New School for Design that he was pleased that "Project Runway" highlights "our city's superior [$35 billion] garment industry and that the show is giving back to the community." Full Picture, the show's executive producer, picked up a proclamation from the mayor, who noted the city's entertainment and garment industries constitute more than 200,000 jobs for New Yorkers.

Klum, a West Village resident and the host of "Project Runway" and its executive producer, "fought" to keep the show's production here even though her husband Seal's musical career requires he spend a good deal of time in Los Angeles, where they also have a home, said Desiree Gruber, another executive producer. The German model hasn't always been so charmed by the city. During a phone interview Monday, Klum recalled how homesick she was during her first stint here in the colder-than-usual winter of 1993, when she lived in an "awful, awful" unheated East Village apartment with two other equally ambitious but unemployed models.

Needless to say, things picked up substantially. Now strangers routinely stop Klum in Starbuck's or on the street to talk about the latest escapades on "Project Runway." She said she sometimes comes up with ideas for the program's challenges while in the shower or lying in bed. Just back from a six-week run in Düsseldorf where she hosts "Top Model," Klum, a mother of two under the age of two, also designs a signature collection for Birkenstock and jewelry for Mouwad.

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