David Gandy is undoubtedly one of the biggest success stories of the male modelling world. Rising up from Essex he’s gone onto the highest echelons of the fashion world, after his friends entered him into a daytime television modelling competition. Since then he has modelled for luxury labels and featured in top editorials worldwide, not to mention those infamous Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue ads. We spoke to the 31-year-old model about his latest venture, a book documenting his stylish success, entitled David by Dolce & Gabbana.
LDNfashion: Your new book comes courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana – a little bit of an honour! How are you feeling about it all?
David: Good. I probably view the book in a bit of different manner to how other people do. People probably just view it as a collection of what I’ve done over the last 6 years, but for me it’s like a book of complete and utter memories. Every picture has a story behind it for me so its lovely. From Dolce & Gabbana and the Light Blue stuff, how that sort of started, and when I started to get big and all of that, then to the underwear campaign, then the next Light Blue campaign and the calendar. It’s lovely to have everything kind of under one thing, to have all those memories together.
LDNfashion: So it’s more than just a collection of a pictures of you semi-naked then?
David: (Laughs) Yeah, they’re not all semi-naked!
LDNfashion: Obviously you’re doing really well in the world of modelling – was that what you always wanted to do or did you have other plans?
David: Well I fell into modelling when I won a modelling competition, my friends from uni sent in some pictures of me for the This Morning competition and so I won that while I was in my last year at university. My degree was coming to it’s end and I didn’t really know what to do and it was a bit of an adventure I suppose. When I started we [Gandy and his employers/PR company] thought about where we could really take it if we wanted to, so we set the boundaries very very high to see what we could achieve, and on some of the achievements I’ve worked with people pretty pretty high up and accomplished a lot. We’ve kind of surpassed everything we ever wanted to do.
I always wanted to be a vet, then I realised that would be really difficult, then I worked for a motoring magazine between school and university on my year off, which is something I still do now as I work for GQ Magazine as their car correspondent. So I would’ve gone somewhere along those lines – maybe a motoring journalist or probably working with animals or something like that.
LDNfashion: Since you’ve been modelling you’ve been in the public eye a lot more. Do you still think of yourself as a model or ‘David Gandy the celebrity’?
David: I don’t really like using the word ‘celebrity’. I don’t really like using that word anyway because I picture the kind of people from Celebrity Big Brother. I didn’t go out to be in the public eye, I went out to achieve something in modelling and it just happened – you get recognition for that. I see it more as like a brand, like a ‘David Gandy branding’ now. People associate me with things, like when you hear ‘David Gandy’ you instantly associate me with Dolce & Gabbana and with style.
Everyone now in the modelling world is using actors, celebrities and people in the public eye so you can’t really just be ‘a model’ anymore. You have to compete with the top actors and everyone else. Think about all the top fragrances out – we have to compete people like Ryan Reynolds, so you have to have something different.
LDNfashion: So you’ve got the career, the book – what’s next?
David: It’s difficult to say really – that’s the beautiful thing about being in the industry. I get bored so easily, I’m pretty terrible with that, but there’s so many doors and I’ve got even more projects coming up. I’ve got the book, the iPhone application came out last year, the style guide and now we’re doing another iPhone app around fitness and nutrition. I’m writing for Vogue – I’m the number one new blog on Vogue – and I’m doing the car stuff for GQ who have asked me to do even more now. Today it’s my day off and I’ve been editing ES Magazine (The Evening Standard’s stylish insert), the men’s edition, which will be out next Friday.
I did a short film last year with Helena Christensen, which I enjoyed, so there’s a future there. I’ve started my own production company as well making short films and all the applications are going through the production company. It’s a busy time, but I’ve surpassed the modelling already in some ways.
LDNfashion: Is there anything you’d like to do which you haven’t yet?
David: I’ve had offers of films, but if an offer of something really really good came up, even it was just one film that I wanted to do I would really get me teeth into that. That’d be quite interesting, but there’s lots to do and lots to achieve. There’s a couple of covers that I’ve got coming up over in America, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m known in America, but everything I’ve achieved over here surrounding the ‘David Gandy branding’, which is all a bit London and Europe based, now I want to see if I can do the same thing over there.
LDNfashion: You work in the fashion industry – how would you describe your personal style? Do you think you have one?
David: I probably do. It’s difficult because women have the choice of skirts, dresses, everything, men really have just jeans, shorts – that kind of thing. I’ve always gone down the tailoring route, so I have wardrobes and wardrobes of Dolce & Gabbana suits, Thom Sweeney suits and three-pieces. Occasions for me are always like working so I kind of mix two things together – I’m very traditional, but then I really want to modernise up. I love vintage stuff, so it’s an eclectic mix of everything really. I want to be modern, but like to be traditional, like wearing jeans with a waistcoat and a jacket with a tie. I don’t know if you could call that a style really, maybe like ‘shabby chic’, or ‘traditional chic’ – something like that.
LDNfashion: Do you have any favourite brands or shops?
David: I’m really lucky that everything from Dolce & Gabbana is made to fit me, but probably recently the best suit I’ve bought is from a tailors called Thom Sweeney, they’re the best at tailoring. There some exciting young guys in Mayfair in London.
LDNfashion: You’re originally from Essex, which is now well-known thanks to The Only Way Is Essex. Did you ever think you’d make it so big coming from a place that was relatively unknown when you started out?
David: I don’t think coming from Essex ever holds anyone back. It’s amazing how many successful people are actually from Essex, like Lee Evans, Jamie Oliver and other models like Paul Scolfer. I don’t think things like The Only Way Is Essex do anyone any favours really. I haven’t really seen it, but what I gather from it shows people the exact cliche of what people thought Essex would be.
LDNfashion: For those people who have never been to Essex where would you recommend visiting?
David: My parents are from the Essex/Suffolk coast, up in a place called the Colne Valley and it’s absolutely stunning. I’d head up there – I’m kind of a country guy and the countryside is stunning. All the cliches of Essex are completely broken there.
David Gandy by Dolce & Gabbana is available to buy in Dolce & Gabbana stores now.