By Ray Rogers | August 21, 2015 | People
Globe-trotting model Kate King is as grounded and giving as the words permanently inked on her wrist would suggest.
Dress, Dolce & Gabbana ($5,545). The Shops at Crystals, 702-431-6615
I’s always a good idea to read the fine print. On the underside of model Kate King’s delicate right wrist, in tiny elegant type, are two powerful words: “be kind.” It’s a handy reminder whenever she needs it that no matter what’s going on in her life—jam-packed as it is with exotic locations (from the runways of Milan to palaces in India), a new boyfriend in London, and major success in the halls of high fashion—kindness is key.
It’s not just a cute tattoo. It’s a code of conduct that she tries to follow every day. When we meet on an early morning in late July, you’d never guess that King—fresh-faced, clear-eyed, and as graceful as they come—just jetted in from London the night before. But here she is, in a simple but chic striped Sandro dress with gold buttons around the waist and a pair of chunky Zara sandals, with a teal Dolce & Gabbana bag at her side, gamely prepping for a 10-hour fashion shoot in the blazing summer sun. Then again, this is business as usual for the 21-year-old stunner, who has risen through the ranks of catwalk models (when she would clock a punishing schedule of up to 70 shows a season) to dominate in the world of high fashion. You may recognize her exquisite face and penetrating, almond-shaped hazel eyes from her many Dolce & Gabbana campaigns. She is currently the face of the brand’s fragrance, Dolce.
The looks may be God-given, but the work ethic and good attitude are all hers. Raised on the outskirts of Toronto, in Mississauga, Canada—which King calls “a great place to grow up”—until she was 11, when her family relocated to Naples, Florida, the “painfully shy” youngster was relentlessly teased by boys in school for her slight build. “There was a group of boys that were really mean to me,” she says. “They’d call me ‘celery stalk.’ It made me a stronger person. I would just yell back. I let people’s comments bounce off of me.”
It was good training for what awaited the young King in the often cutthroat world of modeling. Spotted by a scout on the streets of Manhattan at age 13 while on vacation with her parents, she began her career a few years later, at 16. “When I frst started, I was 5-foot- 10 and weighed 100 pounds, at most!” she says. “I was tiny. I had an agent who was like, ‘You need to lose some weight off your hips.’ I was 16 and just really didn’t know how to process it. It just kind of blew my mind. I knew that it was outrageous.” Her reaction was perfectly sane: “I remember going home and frying some bacon and eating cookies. I just knew it was crazy—even in the beginning, when I was living in a model house with a bunch of other girls. I saw girls who were victims of that and I knew that I didn’t want to be.”
Of course, there are sacrifces. “I don’t get to eat pizza every day for dinner followed by cake,” King says. “But I would never compromise my health or happiness in order to have this career.”
Today, although she says she’ll break for a berry crumble anytime (“I make a good one”), she eats healthily (this morning it was oatmeal with banana, blueberries, and honey), avoiding meat and dairy for the most part. “That’s a moral thing as well as a health thing,” King says. Her mother is a food scientist working in research and development, she adds, looking at questions such as: How can we make this healthier and more environmentally friendly?
Top ($2,195), skirt ($12,000), choker (price on request), and boots (price on request), Altuzarra. Barneys New York, Grand Canal Shoppes at Venetian and Palazzo, 702-629-4200
To stay in shape physically, mentally, and spiritually, King does yoga at Equinox and runs along the East River in Manhattan. She lives with her next-oldest sister, a 24-year-old public relations executive, and their close friend in a three-bedroom “quintessential New York walkup, with crown moldings and an iron fre escape.”
King is the youngest of four kids, and “my mom hammered into us how important those relationships are,” she says. “There’s nothing like a relationship with a sibling.” Her parents’ love story continues to inspire her: “They’ve been together 32 years. They have a really beautiful story. My mom’s black and my dad’s white. They met in Wisconsin in the ’70s, and my dad’s family was really disapproving of my mom.” Her parents shielded King and her siblings from that fact, ensuring them a loving, nurturing home. “I had a really happy childhood.”
Black geometric lace shift dress, Vera Wang ($1,595)
She remains tight with all of her siblings, spending time with a sister in London while she’s there on shoots or visiting her new boyfriend and hanging with her brother when she’s in Florida, where she likes to escape the craziness of her globe-trotting model life. Thanks to her lucrative brand deals, King was able to buy a three-bedroom condo not far from where she grew up in Florida, in Estero, where she tools around in her other big extravagance: a white Mercedes. She calls it “a classic Florida-girl car.”
“Living in New York, you can get a bit frazzled,” King says. “I think human beings really should live in nature.” Which is not to say she wouldn’t love a razzle-dazzle Vegas trip. “I’ve never gambled, so I’m not a huge risk taker, but it would be fun to play around with just a couple hundred dollars, so that if I did lose it, I wouldn’t be too disappointed. I want to stay in a lavish hotel and walk outside at night when it’s still light out.” Her visit would end, however, in a spectacular canyon or at the Hoover Dam. “It would be amazing to have that quintessential Las Vegas experience and then spend a day in nature, because that can ground you again.”
King’s penchant for outré style would ft right in in Vegas, where the exuberant brand she’s so often associated with, Dolce & Gabbana, is wildly popular. She frst turned to statement-making fashion as a child, a reaction to her shyness. “I started dressing myself at 7 or 8,” she says, “with a little heel; a shirt with fur sleeves; happy, sparkly pink leather pants. I didn’t realize I was wearing things that were slightly outrageous. My friends were all in jean shorts and T-shirts and I’m wearing a fur scarf.”
These days King gets to let her freak fag fly—“loud and proud!”— in acting classes. “I’ve been studying acting for the last two years, and a lot of it is just breaking down those ideas of how you think you should be and act. So in acting class, I’m more eccentric than anywhere else because I’m jumping up and down and screaming and singing and dancing. If someone walked in, they would think that we’re a bunch of lunatics. But it’s pretty awesome.”
For King and many who came before her, acting is a natural progression from modeling. “Stories are really important in helping people learn and relate to each other,” she says. But for now, she’s content to keep modeling as long as she can. “I’m so fascinated by the world we live in and people that inhabit it. I have a job that lets me see parts of the world that I probably wouldn’t have gotten to see otherwise and meet people that I wouldn’t have met. It makes me really appreciate the things that I have, and it makes me want to be better. It makes me want to do more for the world.”
photography by RAndAll SlAvin. Beauté: Charlotte Tilbury
Filmstar Bronze & Glow in
Light to Medium ($68), Cheek
to Chic Blush in Ecstasy
($40), Colour Chameleon
Eyeshadow Pencil in Bronzed
Garnet ($27), and K.I.S.S.I.N.G
Lipstick in Nude Kate ($32).
R+Co Death Valley Dry
Shampoo ($29). Neiman
Marcus, Fashion Show,
Kate Somerville Dilo Oil
Restorative Treatment ($65).
Neiman Marcus, see above.
Anti-Humidity Spray ($39).
Neiman Marcus, see above.
Styling by Garth Condit.
Hair by Dominick Pucciarello/ABTP.com.
Makeup by Robert Sesnek/The Wall Group using
Photography assistance by
by Katie Fish.
Video by Brad Holland.
Shot on location at Daniels
Lane in Sagaponack,
New York, via