Adorned immaculately in a checked Saville Row suit accompanied by his favoured fragrance Dolce by Dolce and Gabbana (naturally), 34-year-old model David Gandy met with Fashion London at London’s Mayfair Hotel to discuss getting his break, his now iconic Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue campaign – remember those white pants?! – and his latest foray into the fashion industry: his own line of men’s underwear.
Gandy’s rise from would-be veterinary surgeon to the face of Dolce & Gabbana and beyond has been an astonishing one, encompassing driving Porsches and Jaguars, spending time abroad boats in Capri and racking up a net worth of reportedly £10 million. Not bad for a career spanning just eight years since he got his first big break. Now showcasing his own line of clothing with iconic British retailer Marks & Spencer, Gandy is relishing the more creative role he has garnered within the fashion industry.
He, along with fellow model Rosie Huntington-Whitely are playing a key part in taking M&S in a new direction. “Gandy and Huntingdon-Whitely, think that has a nice ring to it” he laughed. “M&S has been fantastic to work with. It once had this old school image but everything is changing, the food, the logo, it’s nice to be a part of that. There’s a lovely buzz about M&S right now. It’s an exciting place to be. I really wanted to work with a British brand, which is actually quite hard because there aren’t that many. Especially high-street. Proper British,” he explains.
“I thought it would be great to dip my toe first into styling, designing,” he continues. “This underwear and sleepwear line is 28 pieces so I had a very fast education! I had to learn so much. When it came to the design process, I had the final say, and it’s the first time that I’ve put my name to anything. I wanted my product to have a luxury feel, without the price tag; I had full control, from the quality to the stitching to the branding. I wanted it to be very subtle, understated, classic underwear that doesn’t say ‘Beckham’ or ‘Calvin Klein’ – I want to get away from that. I also don’t agree with paying £45 for underwear. I want that quality but I want you to pay £19, £20, for the best underwear, in the best packaging.”
Had it not been for a 21-year-old Gandy’s housemate secretly entering the then catalogue model into a competition on ITV’s This Morning, he may not have grabbed the attention of D&G. Entering the industry at a time when androgyny was all the rage, Gandy’s Adonis-like frame was striking and to a degree, risky. “If it’s all going right, then you go left. Why try and follow?” he said of this appearance. “I probably wouldn’t have got the Light Blue campaign if I looked like everyone else. They didn’t want a skinny guy, they wanted a masculine, Mediterranean-looking guy. I could say it was sheer brilliance on my part, but it wasn’t. You make your own luck.”
The Light Blue campaign, in which a hulking Gandy appears scantily clad on a yacht in Capri, was his breakout, and one that cemented his position as the face of D&G. It was a quick turnaround for the model: “There was no casting. I did the appared campaign with Steve Meisel for Dolce and then went to do the show in June. And then thy called up, and bearing in mind Dolce didn’t even know my name at this point, they wanted the guy who they think was called David, who was in the glasses for the Apparel shot, that’s who we want for Light Blue, that’s it. Cut to a week or two later and I’m on a boat with Mario Testino heading over to Crapri to go shoot it.
Despite having dated celebrities such as The Saturdays’ Mollie King, Gandy is shy, and admittedly very private in real-life. “I’m just a naturally quiet, under-the-radar person. I don’t tweet my dinner or let people know of my whereabouts. I don’t like being centre of attention and I hide how nervous I am. When I turn up to a red carpet, I still get butterflies. At the GQ Awards, I got nervous, lots of butterflies. Nine times out to ten, I want to say to the driver, “just keep going, I want to go home. “ Some people thrive on it. I think it was Cary Grant who said, “I wish I was that Cary Grant, because that’s the image you give out to other people.• But it’s not necessarily you. “Turns out, even the superhuman Gandy isn’t that different to the rest of us after all.
So what’s next in the career of David Gandy: model, designer and luxury car aficionado? Not acting, according to the man himself. “There have been many offers. We were offered Fifty Shades of Grey, 300 2, Hercules, which a lot of people probably would have taken as actors, but I’m in the fortunate position where I like what I’m doing. I don’t feel the need to act. I know if you’re in a successful film, your status changes overnight. And I’m not saying I wouldn’t, I’ve read many parts that I’d love to play, things that I’ve chosen, not things that have been sent to me.”
“I’m always, always adapting, I’m never fully satisfied,” he insists. “You know what, sometimes I wish I would just enjoy the moment, and think, that’s great. But I’m always thinking. “Could I do another collaboration, could I work with another charity?” moving on and on and on. That’s what I thrive on personally. I’m in a business where I can do so many different things. I’m lucky. I want to break a record. I want to break the land speed record. There’s so much I want to do. My mind’s always racing…”
The international jet-setter does find time to relax occasionally. “When I’m at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, chilling out with the animals, or when I’m out driving, or when I’m with my family,” he says. “I haven’t had a holiday in a couple of years. Because stuff gets in the way, and opportunity comes that you can’t miss.“ With an enviable work ethic like that, Gandy’s meteoric rise becomes all the more explicable.
David Gandy for Autograph is available in store and online now.
Source: Fashion London