Saturday, October 16, 2010

Interview with the Dolce & Gabbana supermodel David Gandy

David Gandy is the world's best-known male supermodel - the face (and body) of Dolce & Gabbana. Yet, he tells John Preston, he's really 'just a normal guy from Essex' who doesn't have much luck with the ladies.
By John Preston

There can be very few men in history who have had a 50ft-high photograph of themselves wearing only a pair of underpants plastered over Times Square in New York.

When this happened to David Gandy three years ago, one might have expected him to jump on the first available flight and spend hours gazing, enraptured, at his enormous semi-naked self. In fact, he never even bothered to go and have a look.

'Some friends of mine who were over there sent me pictures on my phone,' he says. 'But if I had seen it I'm not sure how I would have felt. Probably nothing, to be honest. It's a persona. It's not really me.

In life I don't go around wearing just a pair of white pants - at least not on the number 14 bus down the Fulham Road.'

David Gandy, as will become clear, is an unusual male model. He is also a hugely successful one - the most successful in the world.

He is Dolce & Gabbana's catwalk star and the face of their fragrance and apparel campaigns. He writes a menswear blog for and recently became the first male model ever to appear on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross.

Before we go on, I think I ought to record my wife's reactions when I showed her a photograph of David Gandy - not that this gives me any pleasure at all. 'Bloody hell!' she said, snatching the picture from my hand. 'He looks fantastic!'

There is, I fear, a lot of truth in this. Indeed, I've never come across a man before whose looks can reduce a room to muted awe.

But it's very hard to be anywhere near David Gandy and not find yourself staring at him. He's tall with wavy black hair, astonishingly blue eyes and features that somehow manage to be delicate but not at all effete.

He also has an effortless elegance, in the way he both moves and dresses - today he's wearing black trousers, a white T-shirt and a double-breasted blazer with a neatly folded spotted handkerchief in the top pocket.

The idea of male beauty has gone through some bewildering changes in the past 60 years. Suave brooders have given way to fresh-faced college types.

New Romantics have been succeeded by beefcakes, followed by Calvin Klein-wearing frat packers. By the late 1990s the catwalks were full of grungy, stick-thin approximations to manhood with bodies like coat hangers.

The skinny, androgynous ideal stayed indomitable through Hedi Slimane's neo-mod designs for Dior Homme all the way up to last season's menswear collection for Burberry. And then along came Gandy.

Very early on I went to a casting for Dior and they asked me to try on a suit. I couldn't even get one leg into the trousers, let alone put the jacket on. All the models were standing around going, 'Hey, who's the big guy?'

There was quite an unpleasant atmosphere there, quite intimidating. I remember thinking, 'Are these guys appealing?' They certainly weren't appealing to me.'

Gandy's rise represents a return to a more clear-cut era when men were unmistakably men. They played sports and didn't spend hours agonising about, or experimenting with, their sexuality.

'It wasn't as if I thought I had a particular look. But I'd played a lot of cricket and rugby at school and I think that helped. And I try to take good care of myself.'

To watch him settle himself on a sofa, put his dark glasses down on the coffee table and cross one taperingly long leg over the other, is to watch a man who appears to be brimming with self-confidence.

Except that Gandy isn't really like that. Beneath his immaculate exterior he's modest, even bashful, and says that the idea of being an object of desire makes him 'want to hide under a chair'.

'I'm not confident with women. I'm better than I was, but that's not saying much. As a child I was pretty shy, and I'm not sure you ever lose that. It's only in the past couple of years that I've been confident enough to go up and talk to a girl.'

Not that Gandy has much time to talk to anyone at the moment - he's far too busy working. 'At one stage I spent so much time on British Airways I was verging on being a steward.

But it is a very strange life - Palm Springs one day, New York the next. It's great, but it's certainly not the life I ever expected for myself.'

Nor is it a life anyone could have predicted for him. Growing up in Essex, Gandy had no interest in fashion or the way he looked. At school he was singled out for all the wrong reasons.

'I got bullied quite a lot - partly because I was quite fat for a while, and partly because of the way I sounded.'

Gandy went to a comprehensive in Billericay, but hearing him speak you'd think he was a bit of a toff. 'My parents didn't come from wealthy backgrounds,' he says. His father is a self-made entrepreneur. 'But they did attach a lot of importance to the way you sounded.'

Gandy's story is one of (fairly) modest beginnings and bizarre strokes of fortune. He was studying marketing at university when a friend suggested he go in for a nationwide modelling competition.

Gandy found the idea laughable and did nothing about it. Unbeknown to him, his friend went ahead and entered him.

He won, of course, although it later transpired the judges had plucked his name from the 'No' pile at the last moment. First prize was a contract with the model agency Select.

'I can't say I felt this instinctive aptitude for modelling. I just fell into it. That said, though, I always want to be the best at whatever I do.'

Gandy's new career was progressing solidly - until he decided to commit career suicide. I was doing a lot of catalogues and modelling for high-street stores. That was fine, but you don't get to work with the best people. I decided that if I was going to carry on doing this I needed to do something radical.'

In future, Gandy decided, he wasn't going to do any more catalogues. When his agent had picked herself up off the floor, she asked him what on earth he was talking about. 'We ended up having this huge argument.'

An anxious few months followed, but then in 2006 Gandy's master plan paid off. Dolce & Gabbana whisked him off to Los Angeles to be photographed by Steven Meisel. A year later his 50ft self was towering over Times Square.

Now everyone seems to know who he is. Yet while his looks may have brought him fame, he reckons they've also made people wary of him.

'Women tend not to approach me. I'm not sure if they find me intimidating, but I'm probably quite pensive and I don't necessarily look that approachable. Guys tend to be very wary. I think they expect me to believe my own hype and it's quite difficult to convince them that I don't.'

Men may be wary of Gandy, but perhaps they're just confused about what masculine ideal they should be aspiring to.

Looking at men's fashion over the past half-century it's hard to avoid the conclusion that this is a gender that's deeply unsure of itself, that doesn't know if it should be sporting designer stubble or reaching for the depilatory cream.

In his own distinctive way Gandy is the embodiment of traditional values - a man so full of testosterone it seems to be leaking out of his pores.

And while he's not one to beat his own 37in chest, Gandy hopes that his success might make men a bit less fretful, more at ease in their own skins.

'I do think that when you're advertising clothes, or a fragrance or whatever, it's important that whoever the advertisement is aimed at should be able to relate to the person in it.'

Right now, though, he's busy trying to make men more like women - at least in the way they choose clothes. 

He is about to launch an application for Apple, the Style Guide For Men, in which he offers fashion tips to men who want to dress well, but can't stand shopping.

'Partly it's things I've learnt over the years. For instance, women always look at a man's shoes first, yet most of the time men's shoes are in a pretty terrible state.

And most men I know want to look good, but they can't afford to spend £4,000 on a Tom Ford suit.

One of the things I'm doing is pointing out that you can buy a high-street suit and then, for really very little money, get a tailor to alter it so that it fits you perfectly.'

He's got other plans, too. He's hoping to talk to the marketing guru Mary Portas about a retail idea, and when he lies awake at night he wonders how he can boost the men's share of the fashion market from its lowly 28 per cent to about 50 per cent.

'Whoever can persuade men to shop for clothes is going make a hell of a lot of money.'

When he's in London Gandy lives in a flat in Fulham - alone. 'Yeah, my bachelor pad,' he says with a rueful laugh. 'The trouble is, I don't think it's fair to ask someone to put up with the sort of life I have.

When I'm in a relationship I like to dedicate myself to that person and I just don't have time for that at the moment.'

These days, of course, everyone wants to be like David Gandy. Indeed, there are so many models out there who resemble him that sometimes even he finds himself looking twice at a poster. He's very much the leader of the pack, but at 30 he has to work harder than ever to stay there.

'I do work hugely at my physical fitness. One day I'll do my chest, the next my arms - that sort of thing. As for food, I have to watch that, too.

When I'm doing a shoot for [the Dolce & Gabbana fragrance] Light Blue, I cut out all carbohydrates for a month beforehand, work out every day and drink protein shakes at God-knows-what hours of the day and night.'

Although his parents found his supermodel status weird at first, they're now his biggest fans. 'My mum keeps everything I do; my dad doesn't make a big thing of it.

But my mum told me they were on holiday once in Slovenia and these women were talking about being so transfixed by a Light Blue poster that they almost crashed their car. My dad leaned over and told them, 'That's my son."'

While Gandy has friends in the fashion world - he's particularly close to Mario Testino - his best chums are people he's known since childhood.

'A lot of them have no interest in fashion. We go out and have fun and never talk about clothes.' He grins and flicks fluff off his lapel. 'So you see,' he says, not at all convincingly, 'I'm just a normal guy from Essex.'


Friday, October 15, 2010

"Tell me about your pants Mr. Gandy..."

Tell me about your pants Mr Gandy...  And other questions we asked the male supermodel *while breathing very heavily*

Oct 2010
David Gandy and Company's Emma Justice! 

So he’s best known for that Pants shot – you know the one where he’s wearing tight, white Dolce and Gabanna underwear and reclining in a boat. Just in case you don’t here it is again for your viewing pleasure (see below!). Yes we’re nice like that.

So you can understand why, when given the opportunity to interview the male supermodel at the V festival, we found our hands go ever so slightly clammy. Tall, dark and looking very, very handsome in a white tee and unbuttoned shirt, he had every girl in the Virgin Media Louder Lounge swooning. Plus he was hanging out with his best mate and fellow model Louis Dowler who also happens to be Kate Winslet’s latest squeeze. Two supermodels for the price of one – you can’t get much better than that...

We bet you’re fed up with people asking about your pants...
Actually no – that picture has become iconic so I’m proud of it. In fact I’ve just shot the next Dolce and Gabanna Light Blue ad...

We can’t wait! So if you weren’t stripping off for us what would you be doing?
My plan B was to be a vet but you needed three A’s at A level so that was never going to happen!

Are you saying modelling is the easy option?
Not at all! Only 5% of modelling is as glamorous as you think it is - the rest is hard work. Catwalk work can involve trying on the same T shirt and pants as half a dozen other models (eurghhh – or should that be mmmmmm). I remember one shoot which started at 7am and didn’t finish until 3am the next day. I was exhausted but you have to be ‘perfect’ all the time so there I was posing for shot after shot with these massive dogs pulling on a leash. It can also be mind numbing just standing there looking pretty and being prodded around by people – at least in your job there’s some mental stimulation!

At the moment that mental stimulation is talking to you Mr Gandy! Is that why you think some models get thought of as stupid?
Put it this way if you’re offered loads of money to do a fashion shoot in an exotic location with gorgeous supermodels do you have to be stupid enough to say no or intelligent enough to say yes?

What do you think of reality shows like Britain’s Next Top Model – do you think they give a realistic picture of the profession?
I don’t really watch those shows. I was actually asked to be on it but turned it down.

Noooo – we could have worked with you! Oh well there’s always next year – is keeping your body pants perfect hard?
It can be but I have the lovely Louis to work out with – he’s like my personal trainer even if he does have sparrow legs (we’re sure Kate would disagree!).

So how’s your summer been so far?
Good thanks but busy. I’m working on an iPhone app with men’s style tips so I’ve been interviewing designers and doing lots of research so I can launch it later this year (spruce up your men with the David Gandy Style Guide girls). You ladies are so lucky because you have so many places to get fashion advice but there’s hardly anything for men so I’m trying to redress the balance.

What about love – are you seeing anyone at the moment? *asks hopefully*
It’s difficult to have a personal life as a model so no I’m not seeing anyone – I just wouldn’t be able to give her the attention she’d deserve.

Yes but we wouldn’t mind seeing you try!


Friday, October 8, 2010

David Gandy - Britain's top male model

By Hermione Eyre from

David Gandy has invited me round to breakfast at his pad in Fulham. I'm bringing the patisserie; he's bringing the million-dollar face and body, with which he made such an impression reclining on a dinghy for Dolce & Gabbana's Light Blue advertisement. He answers the door looking home-casual – his feet are bare – and gives me an overpowering smile: chin down, brow furrowed, eyes blazing. He really should charge for that smile.

  (Cooliris) Pictures by ninaduncan (@ninamduncan)

Instead, he is launching his very own iPhone App, the David Gandy Style Guide For Men, with hints for those who don't look as good in a dinghy. He is on a mission. 'I could not bear seeing another bad tie!'he exclaims in a voice that has a comfortable Essex swing and the tiniest hint of a lisp. The body is divine, but the voice is distinctly human.

He is living the male model's dream in this small, stylish bachelor flat, crammed with antique cricket bats, Rolls-Royce headlamps and French carpenter's drawers. The bathroom is stocked with Kiehl's and Aesop products, and he uses a badger-hair shaving brush. There are vintage wooden skis propped near the front door, as if he might grab them at any moment and slalom down the stairwell. He gets all these treasures from Sunbury Antiques Market in Middlesex, arriving at 7.30am to snap up bargain leather portmanteaux. Today, for our mid-morning appointment, he has lit some candles, bless him (masculine black Diptyque Baies), and put on a playlist that jumps from The xx to Tony Bennett. The place is spotless, though he doesn't have a cleaner ('It's too small to justify, isn't it?'), but he hasn't tidied away the white canvas floppy dog an ex-girlfriend, a model called Chloe Pridham, gave him that he seems rather attached to. In the corner of his sitting room is a stack of magazines with his face on the cover. Pictures of his style inspirations, as seen on his App, are pinned up beside his desk: Steve McQueen working a cardigan; Jude Law with a skinny scarf and trilby; Tom Ford. Brad Pitt has not made the cut. 'Great guy, but would you wear what he's wearing?'Nor Johnny Depp, nor Russell Brand –'He's got a look, but I wouldn't suggest people copy it. This is about how to dress classically, about how to get a suit tailored. A suit from Marks & Spencer can be adjusted from £40 – it runs an in-store service and so does Reiss.'

Next we head to where the magic happens: David Gandy's bedroom. This is where he throws together a perfect outfit. The décor is a symphony of wood – old oak wardrobe, priapic mahogany bedposts. The elephant in the room is the huge framed photo of him, propped against the fireplace, which neither of us mentions. He shows me a few favourite pieces: 'my Guccis'– shearling-lined leather slouch boots (right) which, on him, are winter in New York, but would make most men look like a Sherpa. Then there's his Dolce & Gabbana leather aviator jacket lined with sheepskin that would have cost 'about $6,000' if Mr Gandy hadn't been rather a favourite of Stefano and Domenico. He's had the jacket about four years and 'nearly cried'when he ripped it in New York in a Zoolander-style accident: he was getting out of a taxi with his hands in his pockets when his friend mistakenly slammed its door in his face; he couldn't get his hands out of those deep pockets in time to protect himself. He had eight stitches and a broken nose. The jacket was torn, but has been invisibly mended by D&G, better than his face, which still bears a scar.

There aren't many colours besides a cobalt blue Balenciaga T-shirt, bright as a Nice sky. Colour is Gandy's Achilles heel: 'I'm slightly colour-blind. I bought some lovely grey trousers, which my friends insisted were green. “You look like a leprechaun,” they said, so I went home and changed.'

The inside of a gentleman's wardrobe should probably stay between him and his valet, but somehow here I am inspecting Gandy's tie rack. His favourites are all skinny or middle width ('I do like a mid-tie'). Stand-out numbers include a velvet bow tie by Dolce & Gabbana and a discreet blue pattern by Peckham Rye, as well as a long, skinny, pure white tie by Spencer Hart of Savile Row. But what's this? It has traces of make-up in tan rough-and-tumble marks. He laughs sheepishly and says he wore the tie at Elton John's Grey Goose charity ball. It looks like it was quite a night – although it could be his own make-up... 'I didn't want to go for white tie and tails so I put this spin on it – a more 1950s look. There's a dress-code cracker on the App, because men get weddings so, so wrong.'

Gandy's style is, I suppose, a new, inspired formality: dressing up for fun rather than to conform to social codes. He is proudest of a chocolate velvet suit he bought from Dolce & Gabbana before he had a contract there. Only about 12 were made, and he feels it was worth the eye-watering price. 'My parents aren't clothes people – they didn't hand anything on to me, 'he says, and then considers his style legacy to the future: 'I like to think my nephew, or maybe a son, will want my aviator jacket one day.'

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Look Back at 2010 - Plaza Magazine

This Monday we would like to take another look back, this time we're back in October 2010. David Gandy was on the cover on the Swedish based Plaza Magazine #2 issue and he delighted with a beautiful photo shoot by Kate Davis-McCleod that accompanies the cover story. Today, we hope you enjoy this unseen behind the scenes video of that photo shoot with some out takes that were not included in the editorial. (Published on Monday June 3, 2013 by

Behind the Scenes Video
Screen Caps