#23 Dorian Magazine (Winter 2013)
MADE IN ESSEX
MADE IN ESSEX
After six years as the face of Dolce & Gabbana. David is now a global body image ambassador. David opens up to us just how he reached the peak of the fashion world in those white swim trunks.
In an industry dominated by skinny boys, it’s a wonder David Gandy ever made it as one of the world’s most successful male models. But it seems Gandy is the first man you think about when it comes to men’s fashion.
Born into a working class family in Essex, England, David James Gandy never dreamed that he would one day end up as one of the most sought after men in the fashion world.
His self-confessed “lumpy build” failed to turn heads where girls were concerned, meaning that he missed out on sex during his oh-so-important teenage years, but it wasn’t to last. Everything changed during David’s college years when he blossomed into the chiseled, 6ft 3 inches-tall man we all recognize.
His transformation from an ugly ducking quickly helped him win a televised model search competition in Britain, and later secured him a job on the books at London’s Select Models. The latter led him to becoming the lead male model for Italian designers Dolce & Gabbana in 2005 and after years in the shadows, Gandy finally turned heads in 2007 when an advert for their fragrance Light Blue was erected on a 50ft billboard in Times Square, New York.
His muscular build has not only put him firmly on the fashion map but also forced some of the world’s biggest menswear labels to up a gear and move to a more masculine standard.
Today, David continues to stand tall among the fashion world. His current projects include writing a blog for the British Vogue and car reviews for British GQ, as well as helping to raise the profile of many charities.
DM: So David, have you always been beautiful?
DG: When I popped out at birth, apparently the first thing the nurse said to my mum was. “Look at the size of those legs and look at the size of that bum”.
DM: Were you a good looking teenager?
DG: I was tall when I was younger but I grew out first and so I had a lot of puppy fat.
So around age 16 or 17, the time when you want to go out and start having sex and dating, that’s the time God decided I should be on my large side. Then luckily, I grew up, I shot up to 6ft 3’ and I was actually a skinny version of myself although I was still big. There still wasn’t as much sex as I would have liked. It was a hard time!
DM: Was your big build ever a problem during your years on the catwalk?
DG: I wasn’t told I was fat, but I was told things by some big names in fashion because I didn’t fit the clothing. Not because I was too big, though, just because I didn’t fit the clothes. I never fitted into sample sizes. I never have.
DM: how does it feel to be surrounded by stunning models all the time for work?
DG: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I do work with some of the most beautiful women in the world, so I’m very fortunate, but it’s much more than that. A certain type of person would be attracted to that first, but once you strip everything away it’s all about if someone makes you laugh and what their personality is like. Sometimes I can’t have a laugh with some of the most beautiful women in the world. I can’t connect with them. You don’t see the beauty, so everyone is different.
DM: Do you feel there is too much pressure on male and female models to keep looking good?
DG: There is much more pressure on women than there is on guys. I met two old friends recently and we asked where each other had been, as we hadn’t seen each other for ages. One of them said. “By the look of it, you’ve been down the cake shop”.
But it was a joke so we all burst out laughing. But you probably couldn’t say that to a group of girls or a woman. That’s the pressure. But there isn’t that same pressure on men; we don’t sit around talking about our weight.
DM: Do you think the fashion industry is changing and becoming more accepting to models of different sizes?
DG: Some advertisers don’t use high fashion models now. The Dove commercials (they’re not fashion advertiser) use women of all sizes and shapes.
DM: Have you ever felt insecure about the way you look?
DG: Yes, God, absolutely. There’s more pressure now than any other time in my life because of the accolades I’ve got. I don’t feel like I can step out of the house now in a pair of tracksuit bottoms and a T-shirt and just walk down the road. There is a lot of pressure and a lot of insecurities. We changed the male fashion industry. But now I’m 33, I look at the younger guys coming in and they’re amazing looking with better bodies, so handsome and a lot younger. So of course there are insecurities. I go to my agency and meet those guys, and I’m very competitive. I think those guys are ten times better looking than I am.
DM: How did life change when you got your job with Dolce & Gabbana?
DG: It changed my life and it changed the industry, as back then it was full of the Dior guys. They were quite thin and skinny. We wanted to create an iconic commercial. People always think I live that life – that I’m always in a dinghy from the aftershave advert – but I don’t. That does not happen.
DM: Can you tell us how you muster up those amazing Light Blue aftershave adverts?
DG: We always do it in Capri, off the coast of Italy. We’ve done three now in the same location and we always use a holiday home to get changed. But on the last shoot I accidentally used a family’s bathroom by mistake. I went to get changed and I ran up to one of the bungalow things. I’m sitting there on the loo and looking around, and I think. “Why have the crew brought all their toiletries with them?” Anyway, I got off, put my pants out and walked out. At that point I realized I had somehow gone into a bungalow that had been rented by a family. My Italian isn’t the best and I said to the family. “You might not want to go in there for a while”.
DM: Do you have to change much on those shoots?
DG: You get a fresh pair of pants for every take, and there is someone who will take a look at your crotch to make sure it looks right.
DM: Tell us about your diet. How do you make sure you always look good?
DG: I don’t like the word diet. Food is a lifestyle. The word diet is a fad and your body will always revert back quickly to the way it was. It’s a matter of educating people. People are getting bigger around the world and the UK is the most obese nation in Europe now, so it really is a case of educating people about nutrition. Not all fats are bad, your body needs fat, but it’s the saturated fats that are bad. People think some foods don’t contain fats but they do contain sugar. I don’t eat in the morning – it’s apparently the worst thing you can do as once you start eating, your metabolism starts and you are burning calories straight away.
DM: How do you manage what you can?
DG: One of the most important dietary and nutritional requirements is protein. People often think that you should only eat protein when you are weight training, or that if you eat too much protein you will gain size and muscle. How wrong could you be? In my opinion, you can’t eat enough of it. I don’t just mean when training or exercising, but on normal rest days it helps your body and muscles to repair. Proteins can also help break down unwanted fat. Actually, I can’t tell you enough about how essential proteins are. Let me put it this way. Protein is the most abundant component of the human body, and we all know how important it is that we drink water. Getting enough protein in our diet can be difficult and also many people don’t want to give up certain treats in life (for example, ice cream)
DM: What has growing older taught you?
DG: I am much more comfortable in my own skin now than I ever have been. Before, I was trying to either prove something to myself or other people, but now I’m just happy being me, really.
DM: You have dated many beautiful women. Who are you seeing now?
DG: I’m single at the moment. I don’t know how that happens. I’m not too picky. I am very busy but everyone says that when they are not in a relationship.
DM: David Beckham has done wonders with his underwear range, why don’t you launch your own?
DG: Dolce & Gabbana were first with the white pants and they just followed. The way the industry has gone is that brands now pick celebrities rather than models, but we could see that happening, Beckham is an amazing ambassador for the UK though.
DM: What does the future hold for you?
DG: I’m 33 now. I don’t know how long I’ll continue but Kate Moss and Naomi are top of their game.
Source: Scans courtesy of @Anne_DK (Denmark)
Source: Scans courtesy of @Anne_DK (Denmark)