Taking his cues from McQueen, Newman and Jimmy Dean, David Gandy epitomises a classic, blue-eyed masculinity that’s all too rare these days.
By Hannah Kane
Photographer: Leigh Keily
Fashion Director: Rebekah Roy
Sometimes as a journalist you are charged with a task so ludicrously enjoyable that it becomes apparent you’ve perhaps not pursued a serious career path.This moment came during my lengthy trawl of ‘David Gandy’ on Google images in the name of ‘research’ ahead of our cover interview.
In the flesh he’s exactly the same, except taller and broader. And yes, he really does have hypnotic, glacier-blue eyes – no Photoshop trickery required. Gandy, 32, is one of our finest exports, notable as a face and body of Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue. You know the TV Ad, an impossibly beautiful couple in skimpy white swimwear, frolicking on a boat in Capri surrounded by azure sea and sky. It’s a tough gig.
Gandy agrees, “Modelling… what to do you really do” he mock-musses, wrinkling his brown. “You come to a shoot, someone’s done the photography, someone’s done the lighting; you go in and take a few shots. None of the creative part is actually done by you.”
He has subsequently quenched this artistic drive with a variety of pursuits, from writing and editing, to producing iPhone applications, such as his David Gandy Style Guide (he studied multimedia computing at university). The app came a close second in the iTunes charts after Jamie Oliver’s. “But you can’t really compete with Jamie, ” he says, flashing that megawatt grin.
The app contains advice about everything from essential gent’s wardrobe items, to finding the right cut for you build, and dress code conundrums. He’s managed to be the male fashion icon that guys don’t feel emasculated by emulating. He plays sports: he ran the London Marathon last year. To say he likes cars is an understatement. Prior to being “discovered” he had been delivering cars for testing to a car magazine.
These days he’s still channeling his passion for petrol by having a “pretty spectacular” 1958 Mercedes 190SL restored, as well as working as a motoring correspondent for GQ. He also dated a Saturday.
“Metrosexuals like Beckham can still be a bit more edgy than most people want to be. I’m probably more old-school in terms of style, you know, like Steve McQueens and the James Deans of the world.”
“Men’s styling goes back to icons like Paul Newman,” he continues. It’s a fetching look and such a utilitarian way of dressing. The Dunhill driving gloves, the aviator jackets. They didn’t have heaters in cars, so that’s what they had to do to stay warm. That’s really how I grew up, that’s why I have Barbour jackets, because I used to take my dog for a walk in the country and ir can’t be anything other than a Barbour jacket and hunter willies!”
Speaking of canines, Gandy was recently appointed ambassador for the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, the first such position in the Home’s 150-year history. This has a neat symmetry to it, for his teenage self-volunteered at a local Billericay sanctuary. “There are a lot of celebrities, unfortunately, who are not willing to give their name to the cause or put their name in the press about it which is a little bit sad. Simon Cowell is a huge supporter of Battersea, ” Gandy reveals. “You’d think Simon Cowell isn’t a big softie, but you see him around dogs and he’s wonderful.”
Someone whose bark is worse than their bite? Brings to mind a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, the breed currently being rebranded (as it were) by BDCH under the “Staffies: they’re softer than you think” campaign.
“A horse can kick you, but you don’t go to the news about it; yet dog bites get straight on the news, which is a bit depressing,” says Gandy, going on to explain that bad dogs are essentially made, not born.
“It’s all about responsible ownership at the end of the day. It’s not the dogs, it’s the owners and that’s that.”
Gandy became a model by chance, when a friend entered him into a competition on ITV’s This Morning. Needless to say he won, and was promptly snapped up by top agency Select Model Management in 2001.
Initially he was considered too muscular, male models at that time still pertaining to the sper-slim Heidi Slimane silhouette.
“When David came along it was the skinny waif look that the fashion world adhered to, but David changed that and men could now look like men,” his fabulous booker Devon Parsons tells us. “He completely changed the male fashion landscape.”
That landscape is still shifting. This summer sees the launch of LONDON COLLECTIONS: MEN (note testosterone-fuelled Caps Lock) that will run from Friday June 15 to Sunday June 17, bringing it in line, nay ahead of, the other massive European men’s showcases in Milan and Paris.
Chaired by GQ editor Dylan Jones, the committee is a veritable who’s who of dandies that includes a plethora of Davids – our very own protagonist Gandy, as well as Furnish, Walker-Smith of Selfridges, and comedian Walliams; there are also editors Jeremy Langmead (Mr. Porter), Tim Blanks (Style.com) , Alex Bilmes (Esquire); retailers Harold Tilman and Topshop’s Gordon Richardson, as well as demi-gods Tom Ford and Christopher Bailey.
A male pertness of fashion-peddless.
Price Charles is opening the event and rumors are circulating that HRH Elton may put on same kind of concert. British menswear is well and truly out of the doldrums and into the limelight.
“My wanting to be involved comes from trying to push British fashion, “ he says. “A lot of models and guys in the fashion industry seen to get a little successful and then they’re off to Paris or New York – but Britain has so much heritage, just look at Savile Row. The fundamental staple of men’s fashion has always been the suit – and there we have Tom Ford and Dolce & Gabbana and anyone else doing all these fashion weeks and shows, and none of it was in London.”
Now duly rectified, The schedule is an encouraging mix of the old guard (Savile Row, Hardy Armies, Paul Smith, Timothy Everest, E. Tautz), and new blood (RAKE, Aitor Throup, Christopher Sannon, James Long, NEWGEN MEN).
The natural progression from supermodel style icon tends to culminate with a clothing line, à la Ms. Moss.
“People have offered me to do clothing line, which could be fun and would be something I’d like to do,” he admits, but with a caveat. “Not a big one, just something very small, just to see if I had any talent at it whatsoever and then maybe move on from there.”
He’s on a mission to get the (one would assume straight) boys of Britain dressing better. “It’s OK to be stylish, it’s OK to be interested in men’s fashion as well as football. You’re not gay, don’t worry about it. Go get a tie!”