Photography by Mr Andrew Stiles | Words by Mr Benjamin Seidler
Various supermodels have tried to strut their way from the runway to the silver screen, but Ms King actually managed it when she landed a role in the first film she auditioned for, 2001's cult comedy Happy Campers. When the makers of Pearl Harbor then went on to write a part especially for her in their epic film, there was little doubt that she had moved seamlessly from fashion to film. Still not satiated by her success in movies, Ms King, 32, has got her sights set on conquering our small screens as a Southern-belle-with-edge in Hart of Dixie alongside fellow MR PORTER-crush Ms Rachel Bilson. We're more than happy to welcome her into our living rooms.
How did you handle the transition from modelling to acting?
I was at a high point in my modelling career in the sense that I was doing the biggest magazines and shows, but I wasn't learning anything artistically. No one had totally crossed over from modelling to acting yet, except for someone like Brooke Shields back in the day. So I thought the way to do it was not to keep a foot in both fields but to completely do acting - and that was a big risk for me. One day I said, "I'm quitting modelling", and so I took my money, and I found a manager.
What drew you to play the fantastically named Lemon Breeland in Hart of Dixie?
Lemon is a Southern belle and she's a really interesting character for me - really funny and complex. She's a girl who thinks she has to be perfect, and she does this because her mother left her at a young age. She has a fear that everyone's going to leave her and so she has to do everything right.
Do you relate to that?
No one in my family left me, but I do understand the pressure of trying to be perfect. It happens when you're in the fashion industry or in Hollywood. It's a daunting feeling and eventually you realise that there's nothing to be afraid of. If you lose it all, then there'll be something else.
You've had quite an eventful life, overcoming drug use to become an accomplished actress - surely that feels like a huge achievement?
It does. Before, in my career, a lot of the things that I went through as a teenager in the modelling industry, when models had a lot of power - experimenting with drugs, making a lot of money and becoming famous very quickly - were a huge challenge. But I have so much to draw from in my life and I'm a very strong person. Anything I've been through that one would say is "dark" or "challenging", I've gone in and out of very fast. That's why I've been successful. I feel super-lucky that I can look back at every part of my life and have such great empathy for all sorts of people, which makes me a better actress.
When do you think a man looks his best?
When it comes to style, I think a man looks his best when he takes care of himself and makes a conscious choice to enjoy fashion in a way in which he is still being himself and having fun.
What do you first notice about a man's appearance?
His smile and general demeanour. I am definitely more inclined towards men with a great sense of style, but no one wants to look at anyone who takes themselves too seriously. At the end of the day, do you want to watch Monster's Ball or Bridesmaids? It's the same with men - do you want the guy who feels sorry for himself listening to emo rock or do you want the guy who smiles and says, "let's go watch a fun movie".
Who's the most stylish man you can think of?
I would say David Bowie and Frank Sinatra.
What are your dating tips for men?
I have a lot of single guy friends who are always asking me to set them up with girls. My advice is just don't pussyfoot around, but don't be a weirdo either. Be forward, but don't be so forward that you creep someone out - so don't try to make out on your first date. Just because you think a girl likes you, it doesn't mean she wants to make out with you right away! Go with the flow and don't force things. But don't try to do the "friend" thing either. If you both like each other, enjoy the flirting and getting to know each other. And if you like someone, don't play games, just ask them on a date.
What items should every man have in his wardrobe and why?
A cashmere chunky cardigan in a great colour that is versatile like navy, hunter green or camel - your lady will look hot in it too. Nice underwear is essential. Whatever style you like - boxers or briefs - it's important to invest in great underwear because we like it just as much as you do on us. Every man should also wear the chicest button-down he can find. I love Band of Outsiders. Its shirts are perfectly tailored, the styles are understated and you can wear it for day or at night with a slim tie. You should also own a tapered pair of trousers or jeans. Do not have dragons, embroidery or rhinestones on your jeans and never wear bell bottoms! Trust me, it just looks stupid. It really does.
Hart of Dixie is airing on The CW network now