Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Heidi Klum spread her wings this Halloween. Well, technically, several Cirque du Soleil acrobats spread them for her.

Ms. Klum, a model and former host of “Project Runway,” is famous for her annual Halloween bash in New York City, where she arrives in an elaborate costume.

In 2013, she was a dramatically aged-up version of herself, complete with white hair and liver spots. (That year she went to the party straight from a hospital, after a particularly nasty bout of food poisoning, but she was not about to stay home on Halloween.) In 2018, she dressed as Princess Fiona, the ogress from “Shrek.”

Last year’s ensemble, a prosthetic worm suit, looked like something from a drug-induced nightmare.

“I was like, ‘How the heck do I top this rain worm?’” Ms. Klum, 50, said during a dress rehearsal the day before the big reveal.

The answer, she decided, was to stage a performance with the help of 10 Cirque du Soleil performers to transform herself into a giant human peacock.

Dressed in faux feathers on the carpet outside the party held at the nightclub Marquee in Chelsea, Ms. Klum and the performers assembled into a human pyramid. The acrobats twisted and contorted and flew through the air in a mesmerizing display, concealing Ms. Klum who waited on the ground. Legs and arms went up to reveal giant wings, and Ms. Klum crawled through a set of legs and stood at the center atop the thighs of one of her flock mates. A prosthetic beak on her face brought the entire costume together.

Her peacock headpiece, designed by her longtime collaborator, the makeup artist Bill Corso, is artfully detailed, but overall this year’s costume is less reliant on prosthetics than past looks.

Ms. Klum said she had become familiar with Cirque du Soleil through her work hosting “Germany’s Next Top Model” and reached out during the summer to begin the project. She picked a peacock because she thought the dynamic way the birds are known to show off their feathers would lend itself well to the performance.

Ms. Klum wore a stretchy velour unitard in a shade of bright cobalt speckled with subtle sparkles to simulate the neck and head of the bird. “It’s very comfortable!” she said before the party.

Her hands were painted in blues and greens and decorated to conceal any trace of human skin. She wore shoes that looked like ballet slippers, which blended into the costume of the man whose thighs she stood on. The shoes were a little too tight, she said, but “you need a good grip” — something she had learned from the circus members.

Each of the performers surrounding Ms. Klum also wore unitards in varying shades and patterns of feathery greens and blues. The custom patterns were designed and printed by Cirque du Soleil’s in-house team, said the costume designer Marie Chantale Vaillancourt. The team applied individual Swarovski crystals to each suit.

“I’m really into the bedazzling,” Ms. Klum said. No real feathers were used in the costumes.

The goal was to recreate the custom pattern of the unitards on the hair and faces of the acrobats. This involved myriad products including foil, sparkles and airbrushed paint, which took about two hours to apply on each performer, said Vanessa Ashley, Cirque du Soleil’s makeup artist.

“We’re trying to make the artists invisible as much as possible,” Ms. Ashley said in an interview before the event. The idea was to transform the group into a seamless bird tableau.

Ms. Klum’s transformation started around noon on Halloween, as Mr. Corso applied glue, metallic paint, rhinestones, feathery fake eyelashes and other products to Ms. Klum until she was all but unrecognizable.

Ms. Klum joked, to be able to kiss her husband, Tom Kaulitz, a German musician, she’d have to peck him.

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