On the set of the shoot for Macy’s private brand INC International Concepts, Heidi Klum leans in close and poses the question: “Do you think American guys are ready for G-strings?”
She’s serious about it, while also playfully suggestive during an interview covering a range of subjects – from being the face of INC, the Macy’s private brand, to the “extreme talent” auditions for “America’s Got Talent” airing in a few weeks, including one where she gets sawed in half by a magician. “I wasn’t in on it,” Klum professes, meaning the act just happened without rehearsal.
Then there’s her line of colorful, risqué men’s underwear called HK Man, available in Australia and New Zealand. She tells WWD she’s ready to import the line to the U.S. and wants to know if it’s right for the market. “What kind of underwear do you wear?” she inquires.
Klum makes the point that being a model isn’t all fun and glamour, like with her 30-second commercial for INC airing this week for the first time, to promote INC’s 30th anniversary, in which she sings “Happy Birthday.” Initially, she coos seductively, Marilyn Monroe-style, then suddenly rocks out, tossing the microphone, twirling 360 degrees with a guitar, jumping like Mick Jagger, and completely upping the tempo, all the while seen in a variety of INC dresses, sportswear and shorts. “Don’t worry. I’m not going to be a singer, but I gave it a go,” Klum said.
Creating the video ad wasn’t an easy stroll down the runway, Klum stressed, considering all the body motion: gyrating, jumping, and tossing her long hair back and around. The session went on for hours, requiring lots of takes. At the end of it all, “I had whiplash,” Klum said, or at least she felt like she did.
But performing an edgy rendition of “Happy Birthday” was right for the INC image. At Macy’s, the INC collection is considered a “power brand” along with the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren and others. “The clothes are fun and sexy. It’s not an old-fashioned brand. We make it rock,” said Klum, during a different INC shoot at Pier 59, on the West Side of Manhattan. She was wearing faux suede boots with fringe, a poncho with fringe and faux leather pants with flair legs, exhibiting INC’s approach to Seventies styles, which are trending.
For the INC ads, “I got to choose all my favorite pieces in the collection and shoot them.” And it’s best to exercise that kind of control, she said, explaining, “You look like you — not like someone is dressing you.” In several of the ads, she’s paired with Gabriel Aubry, who wears INC’s men’s wear. “He’s a lot of fun. He’s not only very handsome, he’s a nice guy to work with.”
In the mid-Nineties, before she became a Victoria’s Secret Angel, Klum was an INC model, and did a TV spot, which took a different approach. “It was a very cute commercial. I was walking down the street, and there was a little dog tied to a lamppost who sees me and starts pulling on his leash and the lamppost starts bending.”
Her association with Macy’s goes beyond INC. She recently launched Heidi by Heidi Klum intimates exclusively at the store, which she says give women “the perfect boost” and “the most natural shape.” It has some spicy meshy looks, peekaboo keyhole cutouts and racer-back cuts.
No question that intimates is her comfort zone. She serves as the creative director for the Heidi Klum Intimates line made by the Bendon lingerie group, which is also producing the Macy’s line. Klum also hosts “Germany’s Next Topmodel” and “Project Runway” in addition to judging on “AGT.” She says that between all her projects, and her family, she’s got “a full plate,” and doesn’t need another new business venture, at least for now.
The key question is, what’s her personal preferences with undergarments? For one, she prefers to buy her own lingerie, rather than receive as gifts. In terms of style, she doesn’t want to leave much to the imagination. “I like low-plunging, not too much push-up. I like to show some skin — less fabric. I do wear low-cut tops. I like to show cleavage.”
She’s got some underwear advice for men — avoid the mundane. “I like it when there’s a surprise. When they take off their pants, a woman wants to see some color, not just basic white…I will send you some of my men’s underwear,” adding that, “the G-strings are selling like hot cakes.”
Recently, she and her fellow “AGT” judges and production team drove two hours outside Los Angeles to film some “extreme” “America’s Got Talent” auditions. “These people were risking their lives, in 90-second acts, doing the most outrageous things,” Klum said. “It was kind of a weird group, with sideshow, freaky acts. One woman blew herself up in a car. One guy jumped off this 180-foot crane into these mattresses and blew up with explosives.”
For Howard Stern, the extreme part was getting out of town and out of his element. “It was fun to get Howard out in the open, out of his house and into a motor home. He’s a whiner.”