Heidi Klum’s daughter Leni, 16, is featured with her on Vogue Germany


That was a short trip. No sooner did Heidi Klum mention something about her 16-year-old daughter Leni being old enough to model “if she wants to,” than Leni showed up on the cover of German Vogue’s January issue. And if that wasn’t enough to show the modeling world she’d arrived, she appears with her very famous German mother next to her, literally sealing her approval with a kiss on Leni’s cheek. A high-profile cover on her very first modeling job, not bad. American Vogue didn’t give the duo the cover, but they did give Leni some interior shots and a little write up.

On Leni’s desire to model: It was only a matter of time before I would try to become a model myself. 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.

Leni has Heidi’s energy: That’s what’s great about being a model. 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.

Leni’s style: In her interview with Vogue Germany, Leni reveals that she wears “streetwear [above all else]. Dickies, Wrangler or no-brand basics”. Her closet is pretty empty and only has a few T-shirts, trousers and jackets, as she often has clear outs and either gives pieces to her sister or sells them on Depop. The only thing she’s attached to are the field-hockey sweatpants she stole from her boyfriend. “My younger siblings love high fashion with logos — Supreme, Off-White, A Bathing Ape. I am less interested in those brands,” she says

Leni’s real name: Contrary to the internet’s shared opinion, Leni’s real name is not Helene Boshoven Samuel, but Leni Olumi Klum. Heidi has no idea where people got that information from

[From Vogue, via Go Fug Yourself]

So clearly this has all been in the works for some time. Leni’s been asking to model for years and this German Vogue shoot was obviously in the works if not fully in the can by the time Heidi gave that coy interview with People about Leni modeling. Like CB, I am curious about Leni’s Instagram, which is already verified. Given Heidi’s comments in the People interview, I think she might have restricted Leni from having one until she was 16. But the posts are bizarre. The first post is a from behind shot of Leni and her stepdad, Tom Kaulitz, embracing. That’s followed by a baby pic of herself on her 16th birthday, some shots of her mom on Mother’s Day, a landscape video and the rest are modeling shots from the Vogue shoot. It’s highly curated, but by whom? I suspect that not only did Heidi sign off on Leni’s modeling, she is managing every aspect of how it’s going to play out. It’s like Heidi took note of the criticisms the other nepotism models got and calculated Leni’s plan of attack from there. It could also be, as CB suggested, that Leni’s father, Seal, requested certain restrictions and Heidi is making sure those are honored.

As for the shots themselves, I only have the cover and this one interior to go off of so far. She’s a pretty young lady but I’m not sold on her star wattage yet. I find her comments about modeling allowing her to release ‘her energy’ interesting. That’s either going to come across as dynamic or chaotic on the page. Leni’s probably already accustomed to the lifestyle of jetting around and living out of a suitcase, so she’s ready in that respect. I guess 16 is when supermodels get their start, it just sounds so young to me. Good thing she’s known this is what she wants to do for so long.

The interview also mentioned Leni got a friendship tattoo with her stepdad Tom and his brother Bill, which is “three dots on the inside of their fingers.” You can’t get tattoos under the age of 18 in the US, did she get it somewhere else? Did Seal have to okay it?


Photo credit: Chris Colls/Vogue Germany, Instagram and Backgrid

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65 Responses to “Heidi Klum’s daughter Leni, 16, is featured with her on Vogue Germany”

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  1. Katie says:

    I’m jealous – she is at the very start of her life and career and she’s having such an immense boost both through actual help but also the knowledge. I’ve lost so many chances in life because I simply did not know how things worked in some industries until it was too late to get in and I was doing something else. good luck to her, hope this is something she enjoys.

    • ab says:

      I feel you. It’s unfortunate how we are expected to set out 18 or 20 and figure out what we want to do with the rest of our lives before we’ve gained any experience in the world. I’ve also missed chances in my life/career from lack of guidance. 40 now and wishing I could go back in time and steer myself in a different direction.

      Good luck to Leni, she’s cute but so many of these nepotism models are lacking the it factor their parents had. I’m sure Heidi will make it work for her.

    • GuestwithCat says:

      Scary enough this is what my own 16 year old is running into. She’s got varied interests and talents but Is finding herself squeezed out of opportunities because she can’t compete against kids who somehow found their calling at age two and already have a lifetime of lessons and practical experience behind them.

      Everything she’s gotten into, she’s been squeezed out by all these local prodigies. How on earth do kids know at ages 2-5 what they want to do with their lives and get this laser focus to excel? I do see in many, if not most cases, these kids have an inside track via their parents.

      Is there any hope for older kids who decide “too late” hey, being a concert pianist or a ballerina looks cool?

      I find I had to deal with a period of being resented because my husband and I apparently made the fatal mistake of deciding a kid should get the chance to be a kid and we spent her childhood exploring parks and playing games using our imaginations and giving her time to read and draw and dream and meet a wide variety of children instead of putting her into endless routines of lessons with the same insular and often privileged crowd.

      And, actually, we did get her years of piano, so of course she never plays a note and laments she didn’t take dance instead, and of course it’s my fault for not pushing her. She is conveniently forgetting she’s got foot problems and other issues she may need surgery to correct when all her growth is finished. I also got her karate lessons she asked for, then spent two years dragging her fussing and grumbling to them, before her foot problems got severe and she had to quit.

      In the cases of both piano and karate, which she started at 7-8, we were told we were starting her very late. Sweet Jesus we didn’t have the money until then. What hope do the kids of parents of lesser means have? I guess they need to be born prodigies that can be self-taught like Ray Charles or Alicia Keys. At least I think that’s how it, was for her. Not sure on that one.

      I have nothing to offer and no example to set. I was a simple office drone and then I was a SAHM because my health was such I had to choose and couldn’t be a working mom.

      Sorry, you’re on your own kid if you want to be more than that.

      In all seriousness I did get her to stop blaming and resenting me for any of this. That’s entitled behavior and I won’t tolerate that. It’s also not mentally healthy to foist your achievements or lack thereof on other people. If you have a goal you need to own it. But man, as I look around, I see so much success and so many opportunities predicated on nepotism and connections than on merit alone. I do worry.

      • Larisa says:

        You just articulated every fear of mine as well. I have a smart kid who could probably do any number of things, but doesn’t have THE thing that she’s passionate about yet. I think it’s ok, she’s only 14, but same – so many kids her age know exactly what they want to study, where, under which professor, with which specialization, etc., that I feel like a slacker for not getting my kid to that point.

      • osito says:

        Oh, your comment is so well written. I feel like I understand where both you and your daughter are coming from, and you sound like a really wonderful, supportive, loving parent.

        16/17 is when I felt overwhelmed because it felt like no one had told me that my friends were secretly specializing in fields that would win them scholarships and awards that I didn’t even know existed. She’s lucky to have had parents like you and your spouse, who encouraged her but didn’t overwhelm her. She might be looking for guidance now, but maybe feels embarrassed to start something new right when high school is wrapping up, and that appeal for help is coming out as a childish demand. I don’t know your daughter, but maybe seeing a counselor might help her start to think about what she wants to achieve and how she wants to achieve it in a more independent way. I’m decades older than your daughter, and tried a little counseling when I was about her age, but didn’t get very far until my mom pulled me out (…has her own issues, she does…). It took me a long time to go back, and I wish I had sooner because the conversations I’m having now could have changed a lot for me at 20, and 25, and 30. Something that I love my therapist for, and that she is kind enough to remind me of a lot, is that “it’s never too late” should be should be a mantra. Not as in, “you can do anything!” but, “Define a goal and work toward it in a realistic way, even if you feel like you should have started years ago.” I needed to hear that when I was 16, and maybe if I had I wouldn’t have needed to hear it so desperately 20 years later.

      • schmootc says:

        My nephew is about to turn 17. He used to play tennis when he was much younger (like under 10), but then decided when he was a tween that he wanted to be a musician. He’s already decided his entire path in life, even mentioning post-retirement. (At least he’s not trying to be a rock star or something.) My sister and I tried to tell him that life never turns out how you plan it, but he’s SO certain. So yeah, there’s got to be a happy medium in there somewhere between the kid who isn’t sure and the one who is too sure.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Well, I didn’t go into the arts, but there is hope for success & fulfillment even if you get a late start. I always wanted to be an archaeologist, but didn’t have the foggiest idea of how to do that or who paid you to do that, other than some vague understanding that there were university-associated archaeologists–which meant teaching, which I didn’t want to do. In my family, just my dad & I are the high school graduates (I have two sibs & a mom), so I’m the only one who went to college & eventually got a BA & MAIS. It wasn’t until my senior year in college, reading the job notices board at the anth department, did I discover who paid you to do archaeology. The government! In this case, the Forest Service. Oh, and I was 30 at the time (longer story there). So yes, you can get a late start & still follow your dreams & passions.

      • Louisa says:

        I have almost the same issues with my 16 yo son. He started playing guitar (his choice) at about 10 and was really into it for a few years but then started playing lacrosse and basketball and said that was his passion. He gets upset that didn’t I start him playing sports when he was much younger (most of his lax team have been playing since 4 – 5) and the one that kills me…. why didn’t / don’t you push me harder? Why don’t you yell at me if I have a bad game?? But then his best friend is always complaining that his mother pushes him too hard and he just wants to quit.
        Moms can NEVER win!

      • Your Cousin Vinny says:

        There is so much pressure on kids and in turn, parents today. It’s too much, kids should be free to be kids. All the children I know who were pushed and encouraged too strongly all rebelled at some point or felt resentful that they missed out on fun or in some cases, that they never landed the dream they believed they were entitled to.

        Related fun fact: the amazing Misty Copeland didn’t start ballet until the relatively late age of 13! Just goes to show when someone is naturally gifted at something there’s no stopping them.

      • Emm says:

        Um wow, now I’m really freaked out about my kids. They are all under 8 and don’t have an specialized skills yet and we’ve pulled them from any extra curricular since March. My five year old does ballet but she’s just having fun, and I don’t even think they have a summer intensive for her age.

        I also feel like I was never told what to do or what to expect or given any guidance. I was the first to go to college in my family and my parents weren’t instrumental in that at all, they just said go. I took out a crap ton of loans that I just paid off last year I think. I had so many interests and dreams as a kid and didn’t do any of it and I feel like a lot of that was because I wasn’t encouraged or nurtured. My parents both worked full time and I think it was just work and home and doing their extras like a bowling league and the jaycees and keeping my sister and I alive and that was it. My husband feels the same about his upbringing and we have vowed to be different but now I’m scared I haven’t started sooner with my kids!

      • MrsClincy says:

        I’m at both ends of this. My son has known from a vary early age he wants to be an artist. He has amazing natural talent and we were able to get him on a path to get him into the best art schools our city has to offer. My daughter on the other hand has no idea what she wants to be and envies her brother for having it all figured out.

    • Anna says:

      Agreed. And I’m in my 40s still feeling that way…

    • Nikki* says:

      I can’t believe how incredibly naive about money management and career options I was.

  2. Madelaine says:

    Leni is the true heiress of all beauties. I am usually not a fan of those girls who delude themselves into thinking they’ re as uniquely gorgeous as their illustrious mothers (Lili Rose Depp, Kaya Gerber) but Leni stands as a exception.

    • Lizzielight says:

      Seriously?! She looks like any other girl next store 16 year old.

      • schmootc says:

        She’s a very cute teenage girl, but that’s about it.

      • Jose says:

        She’s very cute, but it seems that her mother towers over her. I don’t think she’ll be doing too much real “modelling”. I’m sure she’ll get some nepotism jobs, and will be a great Insta-model. No matter what, good luck to her.

    • Paige says:

      Leno does not stand out as an exception yet (1 layout?), but time will tell.. she certainly could not get more of an opportunity….the career has been good for Heidi-why not pass it on…

    • Tanguerita says:

      What-the-what? Is it you, HeidI? And if not, are we looking at the same average, absolutely unremarkable, albeit cute girl, who would have maybe thousand followers on instagram if not for her pushy Mom?

    • Godwina says:

      IMO the Depp daughter is a much rarer beauty than Leni, who looks like any teen German on the street. Very pretty but hardly runway. Heck, even the Gerber daughter has more “it” than Klum’s kid, at least so far.

      • superashes says:

        Yeah, not to be an ass, but when I looked at the pictures I as getting major “Her?” vibes, a la Arrested Development. Lilly Rose Depp has a very unique look. Kaya and Leni are both very very pretty, don’t get me wrong, but they aren’t in the Heidi Klum or Cindy Crawford territory. Lilly is easily just as beautiful as her mother.

      • Larisa says:

        I never found Heidi Klum to be particularly pretty either, not anywhere near Cindy’s level.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Kaia is at least tall, both Leni & Lily Rose are short, though I agree, Lily has that same something about her that her mother has. Leni is in the same category as Kate Moss’s daughter, cute girl, but not exceptional.

    • Louisa says:

      Pretty girl but she would barely stand out amongst my 16 yo son’s friends. The only thing she has going for her is who her mother is.

    • coolspray says:

      Wow, I’m genuinely surprised by that comment because I came on here just to say that Leni is extremely generic and forgettable looking and looks like thousand other girls.

    • VS says:

      I actually do not agree; Leni does not stand out; her sister Lou does……..they’re both pretty girls but there are a lot of Leni’s out there. This post made me check Heidi and her other daughter Lou is a wow…..anyway good for Leni

      • serena says:

        Totally agree with this, would like to see Lou modeling now, or the youngest son (I don’t really know his name).

    • Madelaine says:

      By the French beauty standards, Leni is a beauty for being non botoxed, for not having lip fillers, for not yielding to that anorexia trend (Kendal Jenner?). But your reactions, ladies, make me understand that the US beauty standards are more exacting.

  3. LaraK says:

    It’s hard to tell with nepotism models this early.

    But i will say this – at least she sounds like a perfectly nice person, not full of herself or anything.
    I hate it when nepotism models who haven’t even booked a job yet talk about their “hard work”. She has none of that in her interview.
    Best of luck.

    • EEeehh says:

      Every industry of which I had taken as a young person was dominated by nepotism. I gave up. Tho if I had an “insider” I still could have excelled, tho getting name recognition would have been difficult…

  4. Rumer says:

    I am kinda interested in her. She was always very protected and the whole story with her bio dad Flavio Briatore was such a scandal. Also, she doesn’t look like Heidi or Flavio, so there has been a rumor for years that her real dad is a German tv host.

    • Ms Single Malt says:

      Leni’s father is not Seal as noted in post. It is Flavio Briatore.

      But that is a new twist I did not know about the rumor about the German tv host.

      I imagine things would look different if Seal was involved as he would appear to be much more controlling. [edit: ahhh .. Seal adopted her. So I stand corrected. Thanks, Rumer.]

      • Rumer says:

        Leni‘s father is Seal, he adopted her. Flavio is just her bio dad who didn’t acknowledge Leni for the first years of her life.

      • terra says:

        @Ms Single Malt, not to nitpick, but someone can be a dad without adoption. Seal was with Heidi when she was pregnant, when she gave birth, when Leni was a baby, and so on. He didn’t just magically become her father when the judge signed off. He already was.

        My father wasn’t my biological father, and even though he was never able to adopt me due to legal reasons, he was still always my dad. A line on a piece of paper couldn’t change that.

      • Tiffany says:

        Yeah he is. Falvio gave up parental rights so Seal can adopt Leni and have his name on her birth certificate.

        Seal is her father. Period.

  5. Angel says:

    She is really beautiful. I think she would have succeed in modeling even without her famous mother.

  6. josephine says:

    I agree that Heidi has taken some notes and they are rolling Leni out in a much more palatable way. And it doesn’t hurt that the camera actually seems to like Leni. I like that her look is a little different than that of her Mom, that you can definitely see a bit of her Dad in her looks.

    Hopefully Leni is a smart kid who appreciates what she’s been given and doesn’t instantly become awful and show her privilege. If she sticks to modeling and doesn’t go the influencer/endorsement route, maybe she can build a real career based on actual hustle. I know Heidi can be irritating, but the woman works her butt off and has built a real career so I admire her in that respect.

  7. Ladykatan says:

    Why is Heidi’s foot that color? Literally a completely different shade than the rest of her body. It’s like all the bronzer and self tanner ran down to her foot. I’m so confused!

  8. Myriam says:

    She has a great start for sure. But do I think she will make it as big as her famous mother, like Gigi Hadid? Nope.

    In the last few years, we’ve seen so many celebrity offsprings become “models” and I stop hearing about them. What’s Catherine Zeta Jones daughter doing? I can list a whole lot more. Paris Jackson, Kaia Gerber, Yolanda Foster’s son (not gonna look his name up), Sofia Richie, etc. They might still be getting gigs, but they’re not getting magazine covers or much of any press. I mean, we’ll see Leni a few times, but the hype will stop. Like it all does for these nepotism models.

    • S808 says:

      And none of them seem to have the it factor that their mothers had. They’re all just pretty. The hadids are the only ones I can name off the top of my head who have huge careers thanks to nepotism and are actually good at their jobs.

    • (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

      They “become” models because it’s EASY for them to do so, if they are even just moderately attractive. Mommy (or Daddy) opens the door and they walk through: instant “name” factor, instant interest, instant attention to the product. They don’t even have to be that good to continue to get work (though perhaps at not the level they/their parents warrant their little darlings deserve), and eventually, they WILL peter out because they DO lack that “IT” factor that ensures real success to move further on.

      Then again, a lot of these kids and parents don’t seem to put much stock on these kids getting a solid education first, so they *might* develop a real interest in something else. To the kids, it looks easy (of course, Mom / Dad have done all the grunt work FOR you getting there themselves), and they always have their trust fund cushions to ease any “fall”. Look at that older Beckham kid. How many things has he flitted through already, to now trying to “model”? WHO would give him a job if he wasn’t a Beckham?

      Another case of born on 3rd, thinking you hit a triple.

    • Jules says:

      Yes I agree, Leni is a cute teen, and she will use her mother’s name to sail along for a bit. I was interested to see the daughter of Kate Moss, mainly because Moss has such a mystique to her. Just the thought of her settling down enough to have a kid was kinda mind-boggling. Her daughter is another cute teen and seems very innocent, but I don’t think she has the It factor her mom has either.

  9. Amy Bee says:

    Nepotism modelling is irritating. She seems to be shorter than her mother so she’s probably not going to get much runway work. I guess we’ll she her in the next SI swimsuit issue.

  10. GuestwithCat says:

    Is that Heidi’s mom in the Instagram photo of the trio? If so, forget Leni, Grandma’s got the “it” factor and all I can see is the top part of her face! THAT is the face I’d pay attention to. She’s got prettier eyes than even Heidi.

    Leni is adorable but she looks much less worldly than Kaia did at the same age. And she’s still got a baby face that could go either stratospherically gorgeous or ordinary but cute.

    At least she has her mom to look out for her. Let’s hope it goes better for Leni than it has for the Crawford-Gerber kids. Presley Gerber doesn’t seem like he’s got his head on straight. Kaia looks like she forcibly altered her body weight to conform to modeling standards and she doesn’t ever look particularly full of joy. If I had a job that made me look like that, I’d quit. Oh wait, come to think of it, I did!

    • Angel says:

      I actually saw Kaia Gerber in real life in backstage of a fashion Show last year, and she is very very skinny and not in a healthy way at all. I hope she is doing better now.

  11. Noki says:

    I know there is pressure on the next generation and comparisons will be made. But honestly I am yet to see a supermodel kid who comes even slightly close to their mother in their hey day. Naomi Campbell is the only one who ended up outshining her mother.

    • Kate says:

      Was Yolanda a famous model? I thought Gigi and Bella have been much more successful than their mother ever was, but I could be out of the loop.

      Hard to follow in the footsteps of Cindy Crawford or Kate Moss though. They were so, so successful, that even if their kids do relatively well modelling it would be almost impossible to eclipse their moms.

  12. bgirl says:

    A little fun fact: The chief editor of german Vogue, Christine Arp, put Heidi on her first Cover of her first Vogue as chief editor. Now Mrs Arp is leaving this position, and her last cover is Heidi with Leni. I think this is kind of sweet.

  13. KhaoManee says:

    She’s a really pretty girl but I am not seeing model in her. Maybe she should try acting? Or college?? Lol

  14. Alexis says:

    She looks like any other teenage girl to me.

  15. Sayrah says:

    So will she date Pete Davidson or Scott Disick to up her profile?

  16. Syrah Eshghi says:

    I am so tired of this vapid woman Heidi Klum and I wish she would just go away…

    • Southern Fried says:

      I’ve really come to enjoy her enthusiasm on the fashion tv competition. Her latest, Making the Cut, was the of the most fun things I’ve watched this year. She was partnered with the always lovable Tim Gunn again.

  17. Midge says:

    UGH. Nepotism.

  18. Tiffany says:

    I will say this, Heidi has a pattern when it comes to the men in her life. She is doing the same thing with Tom that she did with Seal.

    It’s alright for your kids to get along with their step parent, but when you start the erasure of the other parent because, in your mind you are blindly in love and nothing else matters, that can be a problem.

  19. Sorella says:

    All the opportunities in the world and all they all want to do is model!! Like a regular person on IG is a `model`now and yet they act like modelling is THE THING. Crazy to me – do celebs not educate their kids!. They love the lifestyle they see and can`t imagine a regular job and life. It is just SO BASIC to be a celebrity offspring model now and as said, most of them are meh.

    • Meg3 says:

      Heidi has three other kids. It will be interesting to see what they will choose to do when they in a few years. I speculate that they will yeah also model, maybe sing, maybe a little Instagram fame, maybe photography (?) Bit like the Beckham kids or Will Smith’ kids or Cindy Crawford’s kids. I guess if parents themselves are not really “intellectuals or academics” then you can’t really expect it from their kids because it’s no fun to be a committed, strict parent to push, guide and pressure kids through their school years.

  20. Valerie says:

    I find this a bit weird. Then again, what else would someone like her do?

  21. A Fan says:

    As with Kaia Gerber, Leni is a cute teenager…but lacks her mother’s presence. Both girls’ mothers made it as models because they had ‘it’ (especially Cindy). Leni has advantages (like Kaia) and will have a some sort of a model career. But I doubt either girl will be legendary like their mothers.

    [*And both girls look like their fathers, not their model mothers.*]

  22. serena says:

    I mean she’s cute but, as with Kate Moss or Catherine Zeta Jones’ daughters, that’s all I got. I get why, growing up seeing their mothers, they would want to follow their steps but they also need a harsh dose of reality, me thinks. I’m so sick and tired of these nepotism models.

    Honestly the only young ‘It’ nepotism models that I acknowledge are the Hadid sisters. The others kinda blend all together, cute but ordinary.