Born on the 3rd December 1993, Canadian model Kate King signed with Elite Models in 2010.
She debuted at Fashion Week a year later in February 2011. Appearing in a 36-show season, she walked for Prada, Marc Jacobs, YSL, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Lanvin and Miu Miu. Later that year, Kate booked her first campaigns: Dolce & Gabbana and Topshop. Also making her couture debut with Valentino and Elie Saab, King was rapidly climbing the fashion ranks.
September 2011 saw Kate appear in a massive 70 RTW shows, with opening and closing honours from Chloe, Nicole Miller and Cynthia Rowley. Also walking for designers such as Burberry, Chanel, Jason Wu, Oscar de la Renta, Richard Nicoll and Thakoon, Kate’s booking sheet was a collective of new and older labels: the perfect mix for a model still new to runway.
Kate then built up her editorial experience with appearances in Love, i-D and Interview magazine. The latter saw Kate take part in a piece profiling ‘The Row’ – a high-fashion label developed by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
A range now firmly established, The Row defies the expectation that celebrity-led fashion can’t appeal to the highest levels of the industry. The Row has been a universal success story, trading on the simple concept of providing high-fashion basics.
Instead of transplanting their own personal styles into a collection designed for quick profit, the Olsens used their entrepreneurial experience to see what was missing and how they could provide solutions. Intended as a supplement to other labels, The Row fills a gap that had existed in fashion for years.
Making not just classic pieces, but pieces that work in tandem with other collections, Mary-Kate and Ashley have turned the concept of the fashion basic on its head. Taking their own years of buying and wearing high-fashion into account, they applied what they knew about good design to basic shapes making the everyday extraordinary.
These pieces are so well-crafted, they stand on their own merit, but their real application becomes obvious when slotted into a pre-existing wardrobe. The plain maxi-dress, the white shirt, the ¾ length trousers all get a makeover – making them as covetable as the latest piece from Prada. For years, fashion retailers assumed basics needed to be cheap because consumers just weren’t willing to pay more. The Row has transformed the way the industry sees the basic for good. Kate’s appearance in ‘Interview’ is aligned perfectly with the ethos of the brand: cool, calm, effortless.
Kate continued her association with high-fashion in November 2011 with an editorial for Teen Vogue. ‘Home Run’ was an All-American take on sportswear, with King actively muscling in on American Sweetheart territory.
The same month, Kate appeared in V magazine who profiled her 2nd agency, Ford Models. Alongside Alana Zimmer, Hanne Gaby Odiele, Karmen Pedaru and Ming Xi, what becomes immediately obvious is how Kate slots right into Ford’s vision of creating a stable of models with a strong, high-fashion pedigree.
In 2012, Kate’s charm offensive on the fashion industry continues in earnest. In January she appeared in the Chloe Pre-Fall collection. Pre-Fall is rapidly becoming a touchstone for the industry, giving buyers and editors a heads-up on what’s coming next.
In the same month, Kate took to the couture runways again, appearing for Dior, Atelier Versace and Giambattista Valli. With Dior having a storming run with their 50’s inspired collection, Atelier Versace returned to the runways in similarly spectacular fashion.
Featuring classic glamazon shapes, Donatella played not only to the crowds, but to the Versace template with glamour-packed column dresses and goddess gowns fit for the red-carpet. But this collection demonstrated a more measured approach: less flash, more substance. The use of angular cutting acted as a subtle counter to the flesh on show. This collection was still recognisably Versace, but with an intelligence that made the sex appeal that bit hotter.
Kate’s turn at couture season served her well, with a seriously high-fashion editorial courtesy of Russian Vogue. More usually known for its love of grand, ornate design – this spread was a radical departure with Patrick Demarchelier behind the lens. ‘Second Site’ was a series of avant-garde portraits featuring Kate along with Ming Xi and Anais Pouliot.. The white and silver palette of the cutting-edge fashion was accessorised perfectly with blue, painted lips.
Making an appearance in the March issue of Japanese Vogue, Kate appears in ‘Road to Tijuana’. Working winged eyeliner and cowboy boots, Kate models a very different look to her previous editorials. Registering here as more commercially sexy, Kate looks virtually unrecognisable when compared to the high-fashion siren in Russian Vogue. When you factor in that Kate has only been active since 2010 – this level of versatility at this stage of her career is a very good sign.
Kate’s body of work paid off when it was announced only days ago that she would be one of the new faces in the S/S Chloe campaign. Photographed by Glen Luchford, King appears with campaign regular, Karmen Pedaru.
This signing represents Kate’s move into big-league campaigns. Chloe has taken a gamble on hiring a newer face, and it is a mark of their confidence in Kate’s abilities that she was only one of two models used for their Pre-Fall collection.
The campaign, featuring striped ‘balloon’ gowns echoes the Pre-Fall collection’s obsession with slouchy, relaxed shapes. Striking a more retro note than previous collections, this campaign marks a new stage in Chloe’s creative development.
The decision to hire Kate over more established names points to her growing reputation for dependable performances, even when under pressure. Though still a fairly new name within the industry, Kate is evolving into a new breed of directional model: capable of steaming it up for Dolce & Gabbana, but also able to master the focus needed to model minimal fashion like The Row.
A modern-all rounder, equally adept at couture, RTW, editorials and campaigns, she is on the verge of joining better-known faces like Karlie, Lindsey, Freja and Anja. The reason behind her success is clear when looking at her print work. Her face is a perfect storm: somewhere between full-on glamour and cool androgyny, Kate’s fortune lies not in squeezing into an already-overpopulated niche, but in her ability to take on any concept.
The timing of Kate’s growing fame is no accident either. Fashion is now beginning to remember why these all-rounders were so popular just five years ago. Pre-recession, clients wanted a multi-skilled model that could reliably produce a winning performance every time, under any condition.
In the economic downturn, something very surprising happened. Clients still wanted versatility, but they wanted a face that was either classic or memorable. Even the more eccentric looks (such as Wixson and Kloss) grew in demand because their eccentricity made them memorable; a visual point of reference. Lindsey’s larger-than-life pout and Karlie’s famous runway stare – these were all anchors that a client could use to good effect. It’s no accident that Karlie has remained with both Oscar de la Renta and Dior as their loyal campaign face during some very tough times.
What fashion needs now, however, is versatility. From Louis Vuitton’s super-girlie show to Kenzo’s tribute to Frida Kahlo, no one trend dominates, and a model that can do it all suddenly becomes very useful.
Fashion’s new diversity isn’t a cause for concern: a symptom of an industry at odds with itself. Rather, it speaks of an inner confidence that fashion houses are confident enough to go their own way. It means more excitement on the runway and more choice for us. Instead of one trend colour, or one type of hemline, fashion is branching out – and everyone benefits.
As it returns to a confidence and diversity, fashion needs models just like Kate: versatile in the purest sense, Kate has the potential to become fashion’s next great icon. Just wait and see.HELEN TOPE