Being David Gandy: We meet the world's first male supermodel
Drop dead gorgeous
Having face to face time with David Gandy is not the walk in the Garden of Eden you might expect. When the 35-year old trains his mesmerising blue gaze on you, it's easy to lose your train of thought... let alone remember your next question. There are beautiful men, and then there is Gandy. He seems almost unreal — carved out of marble like a modern day Greek god. And he has used his showstopping looks to good effect in memorable campaigns for the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Marks & Spencer (and wisely stayed away from 50 Shades of Grey). But there is much more to the man than his looks. After all, in an industry as fickle as modelling, one minute you're in and the next minute... well, you know the drill.
What Gandy obviously possesses is a healthy dose of professionalism and savvy that has kept him at the top of his game. Here to represent Dolce & Gabbana's Light Blue scent — an iconic advertisement that he is perhaps best known for — he never seemed to tire of the countless selfies with journalists, bloggers and fans alike and struck a campaign-worthy pose at the drop of a hat. In our chat, Gandy reveals his need for speed, his philosophy on modelling and the surprising reason he admires Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford.
Is Dolce & Gabbana's Light Blue the campaign that many of your fans know you by?
Yes, I suppose it is. I wouldn't be here if not for Light Blue at the end of the day. That was the campaign that kickstarted everything. Yes, people do come up to me and know me as David Gandy from the Light Blue ads.
What are the scents that you usually go for?
It depends. I always go for something very light, something vibrant and fresh for the day. In the evenings, winter and autumn, I prefer something muskier and deeper.
What do you like about Light Blue?
As a scent, it's that freshness that I was talking about really. And I'm lucky enough to have smelled the fragrance for the first time when I shot Light Blue. So it takes me back to being in a boat in Capri and shooting that campaign... which has led to this. It always takes me back to the images I have of that day.
What is your skincare regimen?
I'm still learning as a male. Women know about it from a younger age: About their skin, makeup and things that work. Men don't. We might put some moisturiser on... but I'm still learning from P&G and other people about why you need good quality ingredients and moisturisers.
I don't think men need to do that much. I think you exfoliate, put a serum or an oil on and then you moisturise. And then you do it twice a day. Men shouldn't be scared of it, but of course you have to look after your skin. SK-II is very good, rose oil is very good... but I think we've still yet to see a really good male-oriented line if I'm honest.
What are some of the things you do that people find surprising?
I write (for Vogue.com and GQ.com). I race cars. I'm in a powerboat racing team. The boat racing is a very new challenge I've started. Now I'm going to learn how to drive the boats. I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie. It's speed at the end of the day. It's why I love skiing and why I love car racing and why I love cars. Anything with an engine and a steering wheel and something going fast is fun for me.
I also bought a shoe company last year and have percentages in many other companies. I have five charities. I design a range with Marks & Spencer. So it's quite a few different things really, that nobody really quite realises.
Tell us more about the shoe brand, David Preston, that you acquired last year?
I invested in the guy and not the brand. I bought the brand in the end because that was the most sensible way of bringing in the right people to work on it. It's a tiny team working on the brand, but I believed in him [David Preston] as a designer. I loved his shoes. It was really me giving him an opportunity to show what he could do when spread to a wide audience. It might work or it might not. It was me just investing in a young, British brand at the end of the day.
Other brands I've helped out by wearing their clothes and supporting them, but this one is actual financial investment and bringing in a team to help him him so that he could get on with actual designing. It's a tricky challenge, but I still think the shoe market is very open and there is room for another brand that takes on the luxury labels, but prices it much more sensibly.
What is special about David Preston's designs?
They're handmade in Italy and Spain. Ours are much more European in design, but we take inspiration from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. His Chelsea boots are a staple and we will expand that a lot more. It's a traditional Chelsea boot, but really comfortable and made from calf leather. But he's mixing materials like suedes and leathers, and colours. The difference is, we're taking on Saint Laurent, Lanvin and Tom Ford, but pricing it much lower.
If you want longevity, you have to be clever about it. If not, you'll be around for a few years, but you're not going to last that long.
You've appeared in various stages of undress in some campaigns. What do you think about people who say you should cover up more as you get older?
I think people talk about age in a critical manner and use it as an insult. And I think that's wrong at the end of the day. No I won't be underwear modelling for much longer. But it's not a matter of it being classy or not. It's about giving other people a chance. With my underwear campaigns, I would like the new faces of the industry to come in.
How has the modelling scene changed since you started and how do you stay relevant?
The competition since about 2008 or so hasn't been other models, it's been the movie stars. I was an unknown then, doing a brand new fragrance, but if you think of other fragrances, now you've got Brad Pitt for Chanel and Johnny Depp for Dior Sauvage. Hugo Boss has changed several times with different actors. So it's the actors who you're up against, more than the other male models. So they are the competition.
It's not about staying relevant, it's about branding yourself and bringing something to a campaign. I am very loyal to the brands that I work with, but now I deal mainly with my own stuff — like the David Gandy brand and the brands that I work with — that's who I use my image for.
Light Blue is completely and utterly different — but there are not many fragrances that are going on for nearly ten years with the same imagery and the same guy. But it's still working. We've won 40 awards and we're still one of the top-selling fragrances in the world. Why people don't look at that and replicate the formula, I have no idea! They try and change it and bring in new Hollywood stars, if that works, it works. But for us, this formula has worked very well.
What makes a model have a decades-long career?
Brains probably. The two that come to mind, who have come back stronger are Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford. They went away, had families and did charity work, but they've come back and are still at the top of their game. Really it's about keeping things very exclusive and both women are the definition of class.
I've worked with Christy Turlington and she did not turn up with an entourage or a huge team, it was just her. Both women were very quiet and very humble and very lovely. Well I learned a lot from them and I think other people should too. It's running your brand as a business and not just being floaty and working with every brand and doing every campaign. If you want longevity, you have to be clever about it. If not, you'll be around for a few years, but you're not going to last that long.