Eye Gandy

“Great and good are seldom the same man.” – Winston Churchill.
Can you have the whole package – good looks, money, a sense of humour, loving family and friends, and intelligence? Well, if you’re David Gandy it would appear that you can. This issue we feature a full spread on David Gandy, shot by VELOUR’s very own Eddie Bovingdon.

His striking blue eyes, swarthy complexion and dark tresses have pitched the half Scottish – half Londoner at the top of the bookers pile since his world famous Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Homme campaign. This also saw a 50-foot billboard of the model in Times Square, rocketing him to becoming one of the most recognized faces in fashion today. Starting life in Essex with a penchant for fast cars, which he admits is his “one great love”, Gandy’s success spring-boarded from winning a daytime television modeling competition to modeling for high profile brands such as seven for all Mankind, Massimo Dutti, PKZ, Sarar, Carolina Hererra, Zara and Sergio K – to mention a mere handful. Not just a pretty face, the marketing graduate also blogs for Vogue.com and contributes to GQ. Now in his tenth year of modelling, he’s become fully enveloped into the fashion fold, works towards charitable endeavours and still remains seemingly grounded.

Becoming Dolce & Gabbana’s muse in 2006, Gandy has since starred in the apparel campaigns and, of course, the Light Blue Homme fragrance campaign, shot by Mario Testino. Commenting on when he first landed the job, Gandy says, “When I got the Dolce & Gabbana apparel campaign for the first time, I was hugely excited as it was the highest regarded campaign I had got in my modeling career so far. It was also wonderful that is was Dolce & Gabbana, who have one of the largest profiles in fashion.” Having since become ‘Mister Dolce & Gabbana’, his next greatest achievement to date is the David Gandy coffee table book by Dolce & Gabbana, which sees the tanned Adonis immortalized in over five years’ worth of collaborations; “Every image to me has a different story and I’m very proud to have a book now to celebrate our contributions together,” he says. The book itself features a high number of campaigns, editorials, press, calendar shoots, show pictures, and brand new material. What could be seen as a guilty pleasure is easily excusable however as the profits will be going toward EUPLOOS Project in Italy that aims to put the entire collection of the Gabinetto Disegno e Stampe degli Uffizi in Florence online, in order to create a completely accessible computerised catalogue together for future generations.

“I’m flattered if anyone describes me as iconic…”

Now fully educated in the world of fashion, Gandy admits that he had no interest in fashion before he became a model, previously spending a lot of his time playing rugby and cricket. However when he quashes the rumours about him putting out his own label, but comments on what he would put out there, it’s clear to see the man’s certainly learnt a lot along the way, “Individual, very high quality clothes. Maybe taking influences from the past, such as Steve McQueen, James Dean, YSL et cetera. Along the same lines as Tom Ford, with great cuts, top quality cloth…but more everyday wear and at a price that is achievable for most men.”

On the suggestion that men have never been referred to as supermodels in the same way that female models such as Christie Turlington, Cindy Crawford and Kate Moss have, Gandy offers up his thoughts. “In my opinion this is because it’s an acclaim to be a female model whereas people have looked down on men who use their looks to earn a living and therefore have almost been slightly embarrassed to say what they do in the past.” Gandy also makes the valid point that most supermodels have become just that from acting on celebrity culture and becoming famous outside of fashion. Gandy looks to Tyson Beckford who ruled the male modelling world in the 1990s and observes, “Tyson Beckford has become known really through work and celebrity status outside of modeling.” Reflecting on his own success as an iconic face in fashion he admits, “I’m flattered if anyone describes me as iconic but in reality I think it’s certain campaigns that are iconic and Light Blue is certainly that, alongside famous ad campaigns such as Levi’s or the ‘man with tyres’ arena poster.” With Gandy’s success going the way it is, it would be fair to maybe present the idea that perhaps he is the first male supermodel.

Working alongside Dolce & Gabbana has certainly put Gandy where he is today in the world of modeling, but what has helped is the relationship he shares with the notorious design duo commenting, “It’s really an honour to be so close to two of the most influential people in fashion. I’ve learnt a lot from them.” Putting the success of their campaigns down to a joint love of fashion and being able to come up with the goods time after time, Gandy elaborates, “The Italians and the English have a very different culture. But when it comes to fashion, we have very similar thoughts. For example they use icons such as James Dean, and Steve McQueen as inspirations, as I do. Whatever projects we work on together seem to be very successful and we respect that and each other, which is the most important factor. I owe them a lot when it comes to my career.”

Working across a number of campaigns and getting involved in editorial for the likes of Vogue.com and GQ, it would certainly appear that Gandy is becoming fully immersed in the industry. However what is apparent is that he remains grounded and processes his experiences with thoughtfulness and integrity. Showing his literary side, Gandy often begins his blog entries for Vogue. com with a quote immediately exposing a depth of knowledge of the wider world, explaining why, he comments, “I love quotations, I find them quite inspiring. For years when I’ve read a quote that I like I just seem to remember them. Therefore depending on what I write about that week, I try to connect the quote with the writing.” He also confesses his well-documented love for cars, “My great love is cars and I do a motoring column for GQ.com, so I read a lot about cars, especially the history behind motoring and manufactures.” But his literary interests don’t just stop there, “I’m also interested in World War II and especially Winston Churchill, thus I have read pretty much everything on him and that subject,” he muses.

“Life is full of surprises, I’ve learnt so, so much.”

Having been in the industry for ten years, it wouldn’t be a fruitful career without some good anecdotes along the way. Giving an insight into one encounter with Gisele Bundchen, he quips, “We were shooting together on a bed with her on top of me (I’ve had worst days!) We finished the shot and she started shuffling backwards towards the back of the bed to get off of it. I could see what was going to happen and could have warned her, but she was being a pain the butt all day and had been telling me how much she hated English men, so I watched as she shuffled herself off the bed. Seeing Giselle falling backwards with legs flying up in the air was quite a sight to behold.” Evidently showing he still harbours the cheeky chappy Essex boy mentality despite having been propelled to stardom. Remembering less successful moments in his career, from early castings, another flicker of humour comes to mind as Gandy reveals the oddest things that have happened to him, during his time in front of the cameras, “One casting agent said to me, ‘Right, you are crawling along a drainpipe’. I just told him to bugger off and walked out.”

Commenting on his most recent shoot for VELOUR, Gandy said, “The shoot for VELOUR was a great experience. Eddie [Bovingdon] had approached me a few months ago with the idea of shooting in a location and manner that no one has thought of before.” Continuing he says, “He wanted a lot of acting, movement – no posing, very real and gritty shots. The team and rest of the guys on set were all a pleasure to be around and it made for both a memorable and effective shoot.” Having made it to the top of his game at the grand old age of 31, there is evidently a lot more in store for his modelling career, and perhaps other avenues within the fashion and motoring industries. He’s met some incredible and inspiring people along the way – from car designer Ian Callum to the husband of Vivienne Westwood, Andreas Kronthalar – but admits that the most important things to him are still his family and friends, and of course, (he jokes) his Blackberry. Reflecting on what his colourful life has taught him so far. “Life is full of surprises, I’ve learnt so, so much. I’ve had many deaths in my family over the last few years and I’ve seen how life can be cut short very abruptly. It’s important to make the most of every single day.” Perhaps one day in the future the next male supermodel will be quoting David Gandy as much as he quotes his own heroes.

By Hannah Shakir

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