Seventeen-year-old Canadian newcomer Kate King was the toast of fall 2011 New York Fashion Week, walking for Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Michael Kors, and Proenza Schouler. Overseas, she opened for Moschino in Milan, and modeled for Prada, Yves Saint Laurent, and Christian Dior. And this just in: Stefano Gabbana confirmed yesterday that King will be one of Dolce & Gabbana's newest fall faces — alongside the established Isabeli Fontana, Liu Wen, and Maryna Linchuk. When we met with the Toronto native, who is represented by Elite New York, we were surprised by her Zen-like demeanor, which contradicts her rakish, almost aggressive good looks.
Tell me about your childhood and how you got discovered.
I grew up outside of Toronto in Mississauga till I was 11. I had a great childhood with my two older sisters. Even though I'm the baby of the family, it was actually my oldest sister who was the brat if you're reading this, sister, sorry! I was first discovered when I was 13. My mom took my sisters and me to New York to watch Les Misérables on Broadway when a lady stopped me after the show asking if I was a model. I didn't take them up on their offer at the time because I wanted to wait until I was at least 17.
What do your friends and family think about your new career as a model?
I think they're all excited for me. As long as I can remember I was interested in the fashion industry, so I would always talk to them about this designer's spring collection or that new model and they would make fun of me saying, "What are you talking about?!" Even when I was 3 years old I was talking about that kind of stuff.
Who are some of the models you looked up to prior to getting your start?
Daria Werbowy because she's a Mississauga girl, like me! When she first started modeling, she taught my best friend how to sail so I always looked up to her because she's an amazing model and person. I love Coco Rocha, too. I met her backstage this season and she was one of the nicest people I met so far. She's done so much in her career, which might lead one to believe that she would be standoffish, but that was not the case. From the supermodel generation, I always loved Cindy Crawford's pictures.
You walked in every major show in New York, Milan, and Paris. What was the craziest thing you saw backstage?
That's hard to answer, as a lot of crazy stuff goes on backstage with everyone running around. Doing a show with Lady Gaga at Thierry Mugler was probably one of my favorite memories, though. In person she was just as you would imagine; she was such a character.
Are you friends with other breakthrough stars like Emily Baker and Josephine Skriver? Or are you guys competitive with each other?
Not at all. Emily is so sweet and we get along very well. She's probably one of the girls I'm closest with, as it was both our first season and we also debuted at rag & bone together. We saw each other all the time in Milan and Paris. I also clicked with this Chinese model Sui He. She's 22, but she looks like a baby.
Less is more.
What scares you?
The dark scares me; sometimes I think I should get a night light. I'm kind of a wimp.
If you could meet anyone dead or alive, who would you meet?
Gandhi. I'd like to think I'm a pretty peaceful person.
What's your ultimate goal in modeling?
For me it's not so much about getting a certain campaign or editorial, it's more about reaching a point where I feel fulfilled. I would love to have enough exposure so I could do other work, like charity. I know it sounds cheesy, but I would love to work with children's charities. What breaks my heart the most is when I hear about children who are in these desolate conditions, whether they are in Africa or even in America, which I think is really overlooked.
If not modeling, what would you be doing?
I would be in school finishing up my senior year, definitely. I'm switching to online school soon because I had no idea I would be skipping this much of my senior year. My success came as a surprise for me. You always hope to be successful in everything you do, but I knew breaking into the fashion industry is difficult so I wasn't expecting it at all.
You're stranded on an island and you can bring one person and one thing. What would you bring?
I would bring my sister Sara. She probably wouldn't be that helpful, but she'll be good company, especially if I'm stranded there for a while. And I would bring sunscreen.
If you could change one thing about the fashion industry, what would it be?
Being that I'm a medley of different races, I would love the runways to continue integrating different faces and bodies.
What would you say is the most difficult thing about being a model?
Sometimes we're treated like an object, which is just what it is. You have to be aware of it and not take it personally. And the people aren't being mean; they are just trying to get their job done — like the rest of us.
Books. I read like a crazy person. I was at one of those huge high school parties one time and I just went into my friend's room and read Dreamland by Sara Dessen. My friends kept coming in telling me to come out and party, but all I wanted to do was sit and read.
What's the one thing you couldn't live without?
My family and friends; people. I could live without objects and superficial things, but I couldn’t live without people in my life.
What's your life motto?
Success is humbling.
Model Profile: Kate King
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