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How Heidi Klum became the undisputed queen of celebrity Halloween

For over two decades now, Heidi Klum has served up tricks, treats and ever-outlandish ensembles to retain her title as the queen of celebrity Halloween costumes, arriving at her annual bash on or in gurneys, spaceships, biohazard trucks and clouds of smoke.

And that’s before we even get to the looks themselves.

When the German model first moved to the United States in 1993, she “immediately fell in love with Halloween and the spookiness of it,” Klum told The Hollywood Reporter in 2018. “All that was missing was a fantastic party. It felt like a real opportunity for me.”

In the years since, Klum has spent hundreds of hours in, and likely hundreds of thousands of dollars on, hair, makeup and prosthetics preparing for her star-studded festivities, dedicated to her goal of doing for Halloween what nobody has dared do before.

“I have sleepless nights over Halloween; you have no idea,” Klum told People magazine earlier this month. “I can’t rehearse this; it’s only on the day. I always hope that it works out.”

Musing over what her next costume will be often begins the day after Halloween, she told THR, because of both enthusiasm and needing ample time to construct such elaborate costumes.

Of this year’s costume, Klum told Entertainment Tonight it would be “very colorful, and super big” — and boy, did she (and her feathery entourage) deliver. Here are some of her most iconic Halloween looks from years past, from 2023 dating back to the early aughts.

2023: The peacock

Noam Galai/Getty Images
Noam Galai/Getty Images

Klum ruffled feathers, literally, at her 2023 Halloween party by arriving in striking fashion as a peacock, with 10 Cirque du Soleil performers acting as her legs and wings. After the initial reveal of her costume — which featured a royal blue crushed velvet bodysuit and avian facial prosthetics — the performers leapt, danced and flipped across the orange carpet.

2022: The worm

Taylor Hill/Getty Images North
Taylor Hill/Getty Images North

Last Halloween, Klum wriggled and writhed into her annual party as a very realistic earthworm, with only her eyes peeking through the sculptural worm-suit itself. (She later changed into a sheer bedazzled bodysuit for the party — lest she be limited to doing the worm on the dance floor — but left her facial prothesis on.)

Klum’s husband Tom Kaulitz accompanied her on the red carpet dressed as a fisherman with a ghoulish twist — a prosthetic eyeball hanging from his socket.

2019: The skin graft zombie

Noam Galai/Getty Images
Noam Galai/Getty Images

Perhaps one of Klum’s creepiest costumes, her 2019 look saw her dressed in a head-to-toe bodysuit resembling a decomposing body — scarred and visceral, flayed in parts and with an exposed brain — seemingly revivified by cables and other surgical bits.

Klum and Kaulitz — a zombified astronaut, naturally — arrived together in a biohazard truck.

2018: The ogre

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

In 2018 Klum and Kaulitz dressed as animated movie stars Fiona and Shrek, respectively, in costumes so realistic it was as if they had walked off a character parade float at Universal Studios.

2017: The “Thriller” werewolf

Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Back in 2017, Klum paid homage to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video by recreating the werewolf look Jackson transformed into in the music video’s movie-within-a-movie opening scene. As well as meticulously copying the clothes Jackson wore in the video, the costume also incorporated prosthetics, so Klum’s werewolf face moved with her own features. (Klum’s zombie entourage, also pictured above, referenced the second horror movie trope referenced in “Thriller.”)

2016: The clones

Michael Stewart/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Michael Stewart/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Technically this wasn’t a costume “on” Klum, because she came to her party dressed as herself. Her Halloween twist, though, came with her plus-one — or plus-five, rather: a group of models she enlisted to appear as clones, using eerily-accurate prosthetics and identical outfits.

2015: The cartoon bombshell

Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Halloween is often synonymous with “sexy,” and in 2015 Klum went as one of Hollywood’s most iconic sex symbols, Jessica Rabbit — a costume both realistic and yet also so quintessentially cartoonish. The costume’s two hours-long removal at the end of the night — which cost her some of her own skin — called for a nail polish remover-like substance and a chisel, Klum told People magazine.

2014: The butterfly

Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images
Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

As a longtime Victoria’s Secret Angel, Klum had spent years wearing wings for the lingerie brand’s annual Fashion Show, but never ones quite like this. For her 2014 party, Klum become a butterfly — with wings hand-painted by artisans who’d worked on Victoria’s Secret Angels’ wings. Her glowing bugs’ eyes were powered by batteries placed inside the mask, near her real eyes.

2013: The senior citizen

Mike Coppola/Getty Images
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Klum aged herself by a few decades for this Halloween costume. From head to toe, she was made unrecognizable with layers upon layers of makeup and prosthetics that gave her wrinkles, sagging skin, age spots and yellow teeth. (Nonetheless, she donned an elegant tweed twinset, paired with a paisley blouse, pearls and a tan handbag.)

“Just going into my future is what I wanted to do for myself,” she told Yahoo Entertainment in 2022. “I wanted to, like, look in the mirror and be like, ‘OK, I want to see, you know, what I might look like when I’m like in my 80s.”

2011: The flayed body — and the ape

Michael Tran/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Michael Tran/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Marion Curtis/Starpix/Shutterstock
Marion Curtis/Starpix/Shutterstock

A predecessor of sorts to her alien zombie look, Klum in 2011 wore a body suit (and matching face paint) designed to look like the human body sans skin. She made a grand entrance to her first of two parties that year in Las Vegas rolling in on a gurney pushed by two people dressed as bloody doctors.

But that wasn’t all — in her second look for a party in New York City, Klum and then-husband Seal donned outfits inspired by the “Planet of the Apes” films.

“We didn’t really think about, you know, going to the bathroom,” Klum told Yahoo Entertainment of the costumes. “It was very tricky.”

2010: The glam robot

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

In preparation for her red and purple costume that transformed her into a “Transformers”-worthy robot, for days Klum practiced walking on stilts in her backyard, she told People magazine. “It was amazing, though, because I was so tall and I could just tower over everyone,” Klum said — until she’d had a few drinks.

2006: The Garden of Eden

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images

Then nine months pregnant with her third child, Klum and then-husband Seal dressed as the biblical forbidden fruit (wrapped by the serpent, no less) and Eve, respectively. The original sin here, though, is the lack of effort put into Seal’s ensemble.

2004: The vampire witch

Arnaldo Magnani/Getty Images
Arnaldo Magnani/Getty Images

In a testament to just how over-the-top Klum’s costumes have become, it’s telling that her 2004 look — a sexy vampire witch costume which featured a voluminous wig, oversize witch’s hat, knee-high boots and blood red makeup — now seems positively understated. “I was rigged from the ceiling and then I was flying over all the people like ‘Happy Halloween ha ha ha’ on my broom with a skeleton on my back,” she told People of her grand entrance to that year’s party.

Since she wanted a full, realistic skeleton, Klum bought one from a supply store for doctor’s office materials.

2003: The gold-grilled E.T.

Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage/Getty Images
Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage/Getty Images

At her 2003 party, Klum made her arrival by exiting a golden spaceship, dressed as a cyberpunk-style golden alien. Reminiscent also of the Grecian god Hermes, her look featured gold armor and boots with leaf accents, golden belt detailing, gold body glitter, a golden grill and gold ribbons woven into her long braids.

2001: The Anglo-Saxon legend

Evan Agostini/Getty Images
Evan Agostini/Getty Images

In 2001, Klum dressed as the 11th-century Anglo-Saxon gentlewoman Lady Godiva. Though the eponymous legend told of Godiva’s naked ride through the English town of Coventry on horseback, Klum covered up, wearing a white bodysuit with crystalline detailing. She added a long blonde wig.

“I was always looking for something that I hadn’t seen, and so I was Lady Godiva,” Klum told People magazine. “I came on a horse, obviously. It was a police horse from New York City.”

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