He's the world's most famous male model and as he launches his own range of underwear, Mr Tightey Whitey himself tells Amber Graafland about his late-night sessions in the gym, Becks and the story behind his scar.
09.19.14 - By Amber Graafland | Daily Mirror
David Gandy is a big guy. And I mean really big. Meeting “The Tightey Whitey Man” to talk about his latest venture, a range of underwear for M&S, all I can think about is how ginormous he is. But I should probably mention that he’s fully clothed and I am referring to his stature – all 6ft 3in and 14st of it – not to mention his handshake which envelopes my entire hand.
Dressed in a dazzling white T-shirt and skinny jeans with a stylish blazer, he’s ridiculously handsome.
Not conventionally though. His nose has been broken and he has a scar below his right eye from a disastrous New York taxi ride eight years ago when a friend accidentally slammed the cab door in his face.
“There was a lot of blood,” he recalls. “And, yes, I think my mate probably did think he’d ended my career at one point. It was two weeks before I shot the Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue advert and it looked horrendous. I had a huge black eye and yes, I guess it was a bit of a worry. Eight stitches later.”
The 34 year old from Billericay, Essex, might be the world’s foremost male model, with so much written about THAT body, but in the early days the fashion was for weedy looking men. At model castings he was always greeted with, “Hey, it’s the big guy!” and he reveals: “I couldn’t even get one leg in the trousers at a Dior shoot.”
But everything changed in 2006 when he appeared in the now infamous Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue TV commercial. Or as he’s been known to call it, the “On the boat with the pants” ad.
Advertising aftershave and shot by famous fashion photographer Mario Testino, it featured David relaxing on a boat drifting in the Mediterranean in tiny white trunks – an enormous leap from when he was ‘discovered’ in a modelling contest on This Morning with Richard and Judy.
The raunchy TV ad with David frolicking in the boat with a sexy female model got 11 million hits online and saw a 50-foot billboard of him displayed in Times Square. Everybody wanted to know who the hunk in the white trunks was and David Gandy mania ensued.
When I suggest a natural synergy with modelling underwear and designing his own range for Marks & Sparks, he laughs. “I think it’s a common misconception that I have modelled loads of underwear throughout my career.
“I find myself having to remind people that the Light Blue image is from 2006 and other than that I’ve only done the Dolce & Gabbana underwear campaign in 2009 so actually there have only been two photoshoots of me in underwear.”
He also laughs at my suggestion it must be his most memorable work. But pants or no pants, Gandy is credited for causing a seismic shift in the male fashion industry from the skinny to more masculine and there’s no question he raised the bar in the six-pack stakes.
So who has the better six-pack? Him or rival David Beckham?
He looks taken aback for a second before replying: “I don’t know. But I guess I haven’t looked that hard.”
He is well aware that he’s up against the ‘other David’ who has his own sellout range in H&M and has joked that he should stick to his day job and leave him alone, but he acknowledges that all the brands are using celebrity faces now.
“For some jobs, I’m more likely to be up against Brad Pitt and Clive Owen than I am other models,” he explains.
So how does he keep that body looking so perfect? He shrugs.
“I never really know how to answer that question because people expect some amazing shortcut or fitness secret and it simply doesn’t exist. It’s a lot of hard work unfortunately. There is no big secret,” he says, without a hint of an Essex twang.
“When everyone else is out partying late at night or curled up at home watching a film, I am probably at the gym, usually around 9.30pm to 10.30pm. It’s my release and now it’s just a part of my routine. I played so much sport when I was younger so I am used to training.
“I brought out a David Gandy mobile fitness app a few years ago just because so many people would ask me how I keep in shape.
“I think it’s quite simple but then I guess I’ve been doing it for so many years I know the rights and wrongs. Basically the more sweat and tears, the better the results.”
So back to the pants. What makes the perfect pair? “For me, it’s comfort. Most guys, like women, have a favourite item of underwear, the pair that makes them feel sexy and confident. Mine are hipsters, in a beautiful material. You don’t know you have them on and they haven’t lost their shape.
“I wanted to rival big brands like Derek Rose but I don’t want them to cost £45 and I want them to be attainable.
“I also wanted to keep things very subtle, I didn’t want loads of branding over everything. So I brought in houndstooth, a traditional pattern, but not many people have used it for underwear, that I know of anyway. That’s a bit of a nod to my love of traditional tailoring.”
So when he’s not posing in underwear what does he get up to in his spare time?
“I am a complete petrolhead,” confesses David, who got his racing licence in 2012.
“My love of motoring was already established by the time I bought my first car, a 1.1 Fiesta Ghia with electric windows that would only open if you pressed the button and banged on the door.
“We called it ‘The Beast’. I remember taking a girl on a date in it. Both the doors broke and she had to climb through a window. It’s not surprising that I never saw her again.”
Ask him if he’s dating anyone now and he remains tight lipped. Just over two years ago, Gandy was dating Mollie King from The Saturdays and more recently he wasspotted with model Sarah Anne Macklin.
Choosing not to discuss his private life as it’s been rumoured he’s dating Mollie again… David’s simply much too much of a gentleman to give anything away. Which only makes us love him more.
David Gandy for Autograph underwear and loungewear is available in store or online at marksandspencer.com.