Tuesday, September 30, 2014

David Gandy talks with Irish Tatler Man (October 2014)

Fine & Gandy

A select few advertisements make an indelible impression. Eva Herzigova’s ‘Hello, boys’ billboard for Wonderbra is said to have been responsible for many a traffic pile-up, while Benetton’s adverts of the mid-90s, which included everything from foetuses to kissing priests, made headlines across the globe for their blatant shock tactics. Then, of course, there’s Dolce & Gabbana’s advertisement from 2007, featuring a photogenic Essex boy on a boat, his modesty preserved only by a pair of barely there white trunks. David Gandy shot to instant fame, initially becoming known as the “white pants man.” These days, however, his real name is arguably the best known in the men’s modelling world and he has proven himself to be far more than just a flash in the pan, as Domhnall O’Donoghue, complete with bitter lips, discovered.

A few weekends ago, an old colleague of mine joined me for something of a drink-fuelled night out. Three sheets to the wind, she proceeded to share with me a secret that she’d never revealed previously to anyone. I assured her that I would take it to the grave. It turned out that when she was just 10 years of age, battling to embrace her freckled face and fiery red curls, she took a dislike to her similarly aged next door neighbour largely on account of the fact that this young girl was the proud owner of beautiful blonde hair, sallow skin and brown eyes that apparently angels would exchange for their wings for one day as they were roaming around the fields of Donegal together.

My friend found herself unable to control her jealousy any longer and flung her leg out, causing the celestial cherub to fall flat on a rock, resulting in a broken nose and scarred forehead. That my green eyed and red haired pal didn’t turn into Aileen Wuornos is nothing short of a modern day miracle. Now, while I’ve experienced my fair share of envy over the years, I’ve never wanted to go so far as to cause them physical damage. Until today, that is.

Not only is David Gandy a global supermodel - the owner of the face and body that helped turn Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue into one of the world’s top-selling fragrances - it emerges that he is also a shrewd businessman, an avid philanthropist and an animal lover, as well as being ridiculously well mannered. And to add insult to injury, a recent naked shoot for a Dolce & Gabbana book revealed that, in terms of size, his ‘down below’ is as long as his list of admirers. It is a good job that this interview is being conducted via the old dog and bone otherwise, just like my would be serial killer chum, I might have been forced to stick the leg out.

The 34 year old has trouble ringing my phone and takes two attempts to get through. When he does, he apologizes profusely, taking full responsibility for the error. Needless to say, I don’t mention that it was actually my fault, my fat, clumsy fingers up to their old tricks. I deftly move the conversation forward and talk about something far more interesting than broken phone connections; getting sozzled in Ireland! I’ve been to Ireland so many times - not only for work but also on a personal level,” Gandy reveals with an added air of mischievous “I’ve lots of friends in Dublin, and I’ve been to a fair few stag parties over the years. In fact, I’ve to organise another one in October so I could be over there again soon.”

Ladies of Ireland, start airing and ironing your Sunday Best post haste.

When your body is your temple, and in Gandy’s case, his empire, it’s somewhat difficult to reconcile the idea of him living at large in Copper Face Jack’s, wrecking back one pint of Guinness after the other, though. “I think people have stereotypical views of models,” he concedes. “Being a British guy, I still like my drink, I still like my cakes and my fry ups and everything else. My favourite drink is whiskey." And that’s something that becomes increasingly apparent about the model as our conversation continues. Even though Forbes magazine reported that he earned $1.4 million in 2013 alone, the 6’3” Essex native has steadfastly refused to cut the apron strings with his humble working class beginnings.

His father, Chris, left school when he was just 14 and some time later, along with his wife, Brenda, David’s mother, he opened a successful freight and property company. What is more, his grandfather, James, even worked for a certain iron lady called Margaret Thatcher. This hardworking upbringing has clearly stood Gandy in good stead, and rather than spending his days plucking his eyebrows and thinking he’s the dog’s bollix, he is continuously searching for ways to expand Brand Gandy. Not only has the fitness fanatic created an app called the David Gandy Fitness Guide, but he also acts as a contributor for Vogue, GQ and The Telegraph, and is brand ambassador for Johnnie Walker Blue and Whey Hey ice cream, a company in which he owns a stake.

"I’m always trying to push the boundaries of what male models have done before or have achieved before,’ he explains. ‘If you look at the models from the 80s and 90s, they didn’t stick to one platform - they expanded, such as Cindy Crawford. I’m always looking for the next challenge, like doing this underwear line." The particular line of smalls he is referring to is the one that Gandy has exclusively designed for popular chain Marks & Spencer. The capsule collection, entitled David Gandy for Autograph comprises of 28 items ranging from boxers and briefs to sleepwear.

"I wanted to do something that was a bit different - decent but different and at an accessible price." Gandy explains. "The whole range has the best quality fabrics as well as the best packaging all of which I worked on. It was an honour to work with M&S on this, after all, they are experts - one in four British guys wear M&S underwear.”

When discussing past times, it appears to be something of a nice synchronicity that Gandy has such a vested interest in the underwear industry, as his own are sure to need frequent changing when pursuing his biggest passion: high-speed racecar driving. But, upon further investigation, it seems that this hardy would be Evel Knievel rarely shits his pants, despite the fact that last year, when competing in Italy’s legendary Mille Miglia race with fellow supermodel Yasmine Lebron as his wing woman, he found himself getting caught up in a nasty accident.

David’s Favourite Things

--- from Inset, last page of article ---
City:  London 
Hobby:  Racing 
Designer:  D&G - because I work with them so much 
Film:  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 
TV Show:  The Sopranos 
Album:  Michael Jackson, Off the Wall
Food:  Sushi and Asian 
Drink:  Whiskey
Car: XKSS 1950s Jaguar
Memory:  Being with my grandparents. My grandfather used to build clocks so I loved hanging out with him in his shed.
Favourite pastimes:  I love photography. Writing I love. Directing I like. Fashion, I really like. Food, I really like. I’m kind of all over the place - I have ADD in that way. 
Favourite trait in a person: I know it sounds so lame, but being true to yourself and being true to that is very important. 
Worst personal trait: I am vain, unfortunately. I have banished all mirrors from my bedroom. 
Sexiest trait in a woman: Seduction and elegance has to do with who you are, how you sit in your own skin - people find that as you walk in a room, how you speak to them and that is sexier than anything. All the rest is just accoutrements.
--- End Inset, last page of article ---

And it seems the tormented matriarch of the the Gandy clan is the only woman in her son’s life at the moment, with previous relationships with beauties such as The Saturdays’ Mollie King having gone the way of the Roman Empire. He is also quick to dismiss comments that global superstar Jennifer Lopez made about him recently, when she confessed having something of a crush on him after he appeared in the steamy video for her minor hit First Love. 

“I’ve known Jennifer for a few years,” Gandy mentions. “She’s very down to earth but I also think she’s very astute and a clever business and PR lady so, obviously, when she says stuff like that, people get intrigued about the person she’s [referring to] then they go and watch the video. So, she’s just being a clever business lady, really.”

While Gandy talks a blue streak about his own successes as a businessman, surprisingly, he gets somewhat tongue-tied when discussing his most lucrative commodity - his looks. “It’s strange,” he admits. “I suppose I’m very critical and I look at myself with a very critical eye - no matter what I’m doing, no matter what the campaign is.”

Funnily enough, it emerges that he was something of a chubby teenager, you can imagine that the haunting memory of being Chunk from The Goonies forbids him from ever getting complacent. Indeed, it probably spearheaded his interest in fitness and nutrition in the first place. “There is so much more information, especially in this country. I think the UK is the most obese country in Europe and I think we’re quite inept when it comes to nutrition and fitness compared to the rest of the world.  “It’s very difficult to tell people what to eat and what not to eat. James Oliver is trying as well - he’s doing a brilliant job.” Gandy acknowledges. But he is quick to defend the industry that made him a superstar when questioned about its role in perpetuating unattainable and unhealthy body ideals, particularly among women. 

“When you want to keep yourself in great shape, What we do - we use our bodies - so we should be in the best condition. If you look at Giselle, if you look at Victoria’s Secret models - their bodies are incredible because they work hard at it.” Something else that Gandy is currently working hard at is breaking down the boundaries that male models face on a daily basis. For example, the aforementioned Giselle, who Gandy has previously gone on record saying he doesn’t like very much, earned almost 25 times more than he did last year.

“You have to change the way people talk about male modelling. Most male models get absolutely nothing - they’re sort of second-rate citizens at shoots - separate from the female models and the photographers - so we have to change people’s way of thinking and that includes rates and everything."

A leading supermodel. A charity worker. An animal lover. An accomplished sporting enthusiast. A polite and hardworking businessman. And now, it seems, an equal opportunity rabble rouser. Sad that, the next time I see the cad, I’m tripping him up.


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