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David Gandy: BLUE STEEL LOOK
Businessman, ‘deco friend’ and film producer. Far from the stereotype that the film 'Zoolander' film gives about models, the top who came from Essex has made his name as a rising brand.
Ten minutes. I take a look at the clock again. Five. Never have three hundred seconds felt so long. The countdown begins until one of the most handsome men on earth appears at the door of the suite at the Hotel Ritz in Madrid begins. Bip bip. An incoming whatsapp message. It’s the ELLE graphic editor. “Oh my God, what did I leave unfinished?” I ask myself. Nothing really. The message consists on a destabilizing close up of the man I am about to interview. Nervousness increases. No one prepares for the effect that David Gandy (Essex, England, 1980) produces. No one. With an unrivaled ease and English punctuality, he enters: 1,88m t high, completed with a deep blue look and a disarming smile.
"Hi, I’m David: you must be Claudia", he introduces himself with a strong handshake. He fits the classical ideal of beauty. Dark, features that seem taken from an alley in Naples or a Venetian gondola on the Grand Canal. "It’s my mother’s fault, she had a very Mediterranean appearance. From the looks of my face, I could be Southern: Italian, Greek or Spanish. But, no, I'm English, although I may have an appearance that is far from the typical British gentleman".
Despite his Latin profile, David was born and grew up in Billericay, a town at the northeast of London, which is identified by the rest of the country with the self-tanners and discreet wardrobe. However he has shown a passionate for tailoring and a model that, since chosen by Dolce & Gabbana back in 2006, almost exclusively, to represent the standard of the new standards of beauty, he has been able to pit himself as style icon "I never aspired to dedicate myself to this profession. A country boy, how could it be possible?! In fact, at high school, I wasn't paid much attention. My teammates bullied me for being plump and for talking in a way that seemed high class if compared to their cockney accent”. Listening to him, with a calm tone and marking the end of each syllable with perfection, one would think that he just came out of Eton boarding school. "My parents may not be rich, but they gave importance to education and the correct pronunciation". His speech hypnotizes.
Suddenly, he shows himself as a melancholic lover in full abandonment; on the other hand, he might be a scoundrel that with one look could convince you to rob a bank. "Maybe, the way I was prejudged when i was a teenager, it's the reason why I want to end the elitist image we have about fashion and bring it closer to the everyday. Before, when a man cared for his physique, it had a gay connotation, but now it is common. David Beckham, Jude Law or me, have shown it is so" he affirms strongly. Gandy, who became a model by coincidence was studying Multimedia Marketing at the University of Gloucestershire, his flat mates entered him in a contest without him knowing and he won. "I didn't fit the "mold" when I arrived in this industry. All models were androgynous and designers' clothes did not fit me". His beginnings were 'normal'. He was in some catalogs and campaigns, including one with Paul Smith, but he aspired to something more iconic as female supermodels did. "They were my inspiration. Although men's collections were becoming increasingly important, the fact is that no one was known. They said, 'Look, the hunk of Dior or Chanel', but a name never stuck out. I wanted to be like Lucky Vanous, the "worker" of the 90's Coca-Cola Light ad, or Nick Kamen, the guy who took off his Levi's in the laundry room in the 80s. I grew up thinking they were the coolest guys on the planet. I wanted to make an iconic ad like that. "And then Light Blue came, the Dolce & Gabbana ad. David, Anna (Jagodzinska), Capri, the sea, a boat adrift two tight white swimsuits and summer heat, gave the way to its success. The snowball started to roll. "One of my mantras is: "There is no luck, there's only a well prepared person waiting for an opportunity".
"And mine was just that” Since then, he has known how to squeeze out the success out of a campaign directed by Mario Testino in 2007 and its two later versions, to become one of the few men who can compete with his female colleagues in economic terms and popularity. "The ultimate goal is to sell. And me, as a model, I sell myself. The key is knowing how: becoming your own brand and working on its development. Our reason for being is ephemeral, it lasts as much as it lasts. The model who believes to be eternal, no matter how great he may be, is ridiculous. Being on the catwalk is not neurosurgery, but you have to professionalize and go further." One of the secrets to achieve this is not to say yes to everything. "I say no to a lot of work and I am very careful with what I do. It is always way more important what you reject than what you accept. It´s a very strategic thing." He possesses a body made for sin, but he has mind made for business."You can not rest on our laurels, time passes and we must seize the opportunity." He stops, looks at me and suddenly says: "Do you know how I notice the passage of time? Because I use moisturizing cream..Anti-aging!". And bursts out laughing. In addition to his positioning in fashion, David has released his own mobile app, David Gandy Style Guide for Men, which answers style questions for thousands of his followers, and another one about fitness. "The most successful section is the one which helps to weigh loss and improves muscle definition".
This ability to be constantly changing, to change the rules of the game, is what attracted Johnnie Walker to name him as their ambassador to their Blue Label whisky.
"I like working with premium brands and Johnnie Walker is one of the greatest ones. I will confess that I've always liked whiskey; even more after seeing Don Draper drinking it in every episode of Mad Men. Sometimes I think I'm in the wrong era. If I could travel in time, it would be one more of the Rat Pack. I see myself sitting between Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin holding an Old Fashioned cocktail." Apart from strengthening his image with multiple products, Gandy has gone beyond the fringes of photography and he does hesitate about crossing over into acting. “It is true that I have received several scripts, like 300: Dawn of an Empire and Spartacus. People see you posing in white shorts and think you'll be in your underwear the rest of your life ". Instead, he prefers to invest in films, like he did by helping John Cusack with Defense Code, because he liked the script and loves John's acting. However, his life is not all about business. He runs an organization for children at risk of exclusion, which has been called Blue Steel, the name of the look made famous by Ben Stiller in the movie Zoolander. "I've heard so many jokes about Zoolander that I took it with much humor and as a tribute, I named my foundation Blue Steel Appeal". When not busy with professional affairs, he's lurking in the antiquities market at Sunbury (Kempton). "I'm a passionate about industrial furniture, I am even considering to release a line of decoration. Even more now that I'm remodeling a Victorian house in Fulham and restoring a Mercedes Benz 190SL 60. I'll take you for a ride ... "
KEYS TO KNOW HIM BETTER
1. A Night out. Where a glamorous soiree or a charity event is held, you will see him wearing a perfectly tailored suit, with celebrities like Blake Lively. He is the perfect host.
2. Gym 2.0. In his app David Gandy & Fitness Training, he gives the guidelines for achieving a body like his. "One Friday you'll see me doing cardio rather than going to a club."
3.Petrol head. With a license to drive race cars, and a regular in the Mille Miglia, he still remembers his first car when he was 17 years old, a Ford Fiesta 1.1 Ghia 1988. "The beast" for him. "You had to give a hard smack on the door to lower the windows."
4. Sensorial journey. He is an ambassador to the best selection of whiskey that Johnnie Walker stocks: Blue Label. Only one among ten thousand barrels has the excellence to be bottled.
5. Style lessons. His debut on the catwalk was "through the main gate", with the Dolce & Gabbana spring-summer collection 2006. After that, he and the designers are inseparable.
6. Front Row. It's not often we see him on the catwalk anymore, but more sitting in the front row wearing one of his English Savile Row suits. In addition, the British Fashion Council has chosen him as their ambassador during its menswear week.