Welcome back to Mr. Blasberg's Book Corner, the feature wherein our editor at large Derek Blasberg picks his read of the week, and meets the author. But this week, Blasberg chats with the subject! David Gandy by Dolce&Gabbana is the Italian fashion house’s tribute to today’s icon of male beauty. Blasberg chatted with the Essex boy turned international male supermodel about how his life — and his style — has changed since winning a London modeling competition and becoming the (very chiseled) face of Dolce and Gabbana.
Derek Blasberg: Let's talk a little bit about your biography, David. Anyone who has read a magazine in the past few years knows your face, but probably not your story.
David Gandy: I was born in Essex and grew up in a very small town called Billericay. Whilst at university, a friend sent in some pictures of me to a modeling competition where the first prize was a contract with Select Model Management. And I won.
DB: Growing up, did you ever think you could make a living out of having your picture taken?
DG: I literally never thought of being in the fashion industry growing up; clothes were more a necessity rather than an interest. I didn't quite realize how much fashion brings into a country's economy until I worked in the industry. It’s billions of dollars, and people will always need clothes. This may be at the luxury end or on the high street, wherever people are going to profit from it.
DB: You've had a prolific relationship with Dolce and Gabbana. Do you remember the first time you met them?
DG: Of course I do. It was for a fitting in 2002 for their runway show.
DB: What were some of your first impressions?
DG: Funnily enough, the second time I went to the fitting for the show they wanted to cut my hair. I refused and ended up walking out and didn't go back to do the shows in Milan for 4 years. I have huge amounts of respect for Domenico and Stefano now. What they have achieved is astonishing and even after 25 years they still show so much passion for pushing the boundaries of fashion. The majority of the most memorable shoots I have done have been with Dolce and Gabbana. Especially the shooting and filming of the Light Blue fragrance commercials.
DB: Before you worked with brands like D&G, would you have considered yourself a stylish man? Are you more put together now that you've had success in this industry?
DG: Working with some of the best creatives in the world of fashion has certainly taught me a lot about style. After 10 years, I probably couldn’t help but subconsciously absorb a lot of information along the way. Last year, I developed an App called "David Gandy's Men's Style Guide" to share what I've learnt with other guys and help with advice and tips on men's styling.
DB: Which do you prefer: a residential space, or a commercial space?
DG: Personal spaces are always the most interesting as it gives me "evidence" to go on. A lot goes into making portraits of people in their own spaces, as I feel obligated to tell some kind of story about them.
DB: There's this great quote in the book about which is your favorite part of your body. You say your eyes, but then you admit that you have bad vision and you're color blind. Is there a part of your body that you don't like?
DG: Of course. Probably too many to list!
DB: Do you have a favorite picture in the book?
DG: Each picture has a story to it. This is the beauty of the book to me. To others it may be just a collection of pictures, but for me it's a collection of amazing memories.
DB: Do you have a favorite fashion experience, like a favorite shoot or a favorite location?
DG: New York is very inspiring to me, but the best locations are in Italy: Capri and the Almalfi coast
DB: Do you still go home a lot? What do your friends and family think about your success?
DG: I left Billericay when I was 18. I go back now and again to see friends, but my parents moved 6 years ago. But I hope my friends and family are as proud of me as I am of them.
DB: Looking back on your career, if you weren't working in the fashion industry, what do you think you would be doing?
DG: Working with animals. Or maybe a motoring journalist.
There comes a time when a man suddenly realises that his youthful bravado is no more and he has grown old and ever so slightly tame. My moment came when I collected what turned out to be one of the most significant cars I'll ever drive: the Caterham Supersport.
The very British Goodwood Festival of Speed is now said to be the finest motoring event in the world. I wanted the top driver's car produced by a British Company, so Caterham was the obvious choice: it suited the exuberant, slightly rebellious nature of of the festival. As I entered the small Caterham offices in Surrey, dodging the numerous tourists taking pictures of the unique-looking cars outside, I already had this review written in my head: A fast, unpredictable, big toy that really belongs, like a lot of the British car industry, in the history books. However, I couldn't have been more wrong.
David Gandy, the fashion phenomenon, picked from obscurity and presented to us as the god like face of one of the world leading luxury fashion power houses this year celebrates 11 years in the making as a model, an icon and a fairy tale story of epic menswear proportions.
The fairy tale began as a boy, when ironically he was bullied at school for being fashion forward, or one of the In Crowd and for having a bit of a speech impediment. It wasn’t until he graduated from university in 2001 that his life changed from Essex boy ugly duckling to international heart throb and iconic mega star. While David was busy enjoying himself in his dream summer job at car mag Auto Express (he’s a huge car geek for those of you who don’t read his Vogue Blog) his friends secretly entered him into a male modelling competition on Richard & Judy’s This Morning show. Not surprisingly David won and landed a contract with Select Model Management.
His first few years were not a shinning success, but eventually someone (that clever Italian duo) saw in David Gandy what we all thankfully do and a star was born. Dolce & Gabbana selected Gandy to front their ad campaign for their new fragrance Light Blue Pour Homme and subsequently he has become a brand name in his own right.
He’s had rapid success within the brand becoming the international face of menswear as well as working with some of the world most notorious super models like Naomi Campbell. He also worked on many other campaigns from Ermeregldo Zegna, Zara, Harpers Bazaar, Glamour, GQ Style and worked with some of the worlds top photographers like Mario Testino. Forbes Magazines even ranked Gandy as the third most successful male model in the world – quite an achievement for an unfashionable high school kid from Essex.
But what of Gandy’s own style? Well, his handsome smouldering good looks and perfectly tuned and sculpted body certainly help, but he also has a calming masculine confidence and charm which mirrors a style that is simple, elegant and impeccable.
He wardrobe has a strong emphasis on strong correctly tailored clothing, be it a jacket, suit or casual shirt and jeans.
His reliance on tailored clothing to accentuate his superhero-esque physique with it’s clean lines and silhouette is most apparent in his favoured staple, the two piece suit. However, for Gandy and any gentleman of good taste and a sense of style the attention is in the detail. He always adds something to give his outfit a signature David Gandy stamp of approval, whether it be a waistcoat or a scarf layered into the jacket. He also isn’t afraid to blur the edges of conventional menswear mixing formal separates with jeans or a simple (fitted) white T’s.
He’s also a man who values the importance of layering in his casual wear too, be it tweeds, woollen sweaters or leather bomber jackets it’s all done with an impeccable edit.
After an accolade like that, what’s not to love? Home grown, handsome, Grecian proportions and a personal style fit to challenge the best style icons history has to offer.