2015年1月11日 星期日

David Gandy: sole man

  1. David Gandy
    Model
  2. David James Gandy is an English model. After winning a televised competition, Gandy became a successful model. For several years, Italian designers Dolce & Gabbana featured him in their campaigns and fashion shows.Wikipedia
  3. BornFebruary 19, 1980 (age 34), Billericay, United Kingdom
  4. Height1.91 m
  5. NationalityBritish

January 9, 2015 10:59 am

David Gandy: sole man

He earned his fortune on the catwalk, but now ‘the white pants guy’ is stepping into footwear, writes Luke Leitch
I
f you’ve seen Mario Testino’s 2006 pictures of David Gandy — he’s in a boat, framed by a suggestive Italian rock formation, legs akimbo and wearing nothing but some tight white swimming trunks and the faintest drizzle of baby oil — then you already know a few facts about him. His abs are astounding, his glutes great and his pecs impressive. He has saturnine, lustrous hair. However the real zingers in Gandy’s muscular portfolio are his zygomatici: 14 years of smoulders, half-smiles and Zoolander-style “blue steel” pouting have made this Billericay-born 34-year-old Britain’s — and possibly the world’s — best-known male fashion model.
The scrupulously polite Gandy deploys a straight face when I observe thatZoolander, Ben Stiller’s comic film about the fashion industry, was released in the same year that Gandy’s career began. But while that film pitilessly parodied the world of “really, really ridiculously good-looking” male models, Gandy has done seriously well since winning the “Male Face of 2001” competition on ITV’s This Morning. “A friend at Gloucestershire university [where Gandy was studying computing] put me up for it secretly — so when the agency called I honestly thought they had the wrong person and I hung up on them,” he explains. He later returned the call, and you can see his win on YouTube.
Consistently at the very top, or thereabouts, of earnings estimates for the world’s most successful male models, Gandy has an annual income that reportedly hovers just above £1m. That’s a fraction of what his female equivalents earn but still useful. And Gandy is one of the few male models whose name is internationally recognised: although not entirely sold on social media, he has 85,000 Twitter followers, 230,000 on Instagram and large fan-run communities on both. His birthplace means his fate is forever to be called an Essex boy but his received pronunciation sounds long-established.
David Gandy at home in London©Victoria Birkinshaw
David Gandy at home in London
We have just toured his new four-floor house in Fulham, west London. His spare room features a houndstooth bedspread and Prince of Wales check lampshades. His walk-in-wardrobe includes menswear classics such as suits by Ralph Lauren and Thom Sweeney. On his dressing table rests a golden tube of Elnett — which, to be fair, may well belong to Mollie King, his long-haired pop star girlfriend.

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Once King has popped in, wearing a paparazzi-repelling baseball cap to take their dog, Alfie, for a walk, Gandy rattles through his career. His first three years or so involved “lots of commercial work, catalogue work. I was on very good wages but it was never all I wanted to do.” So he lobbied his agency, Select, for a change of brief. Select “bullied people into giving me editorials and I gave up every catalogue client — it was risky”.
The pay-off came when Dolce & Gabbana recruited Gandy to star in the Testino campaign for its fragrance Light Blue. That 2006 shoot began Gandy’s final ascent to the summit of male modelling greatness, although it took a while longer for people to learn his name: “At first I was the white-pants guy. Then it was the Dolce & Gabbana model. Then it was David Gandy the Dolce & Gabbana model — and finally it was just David Gandy.”
Wise management has helped Gandy broaden his profile: today, he is an ambassador for London Collections: Men (the British menswear fashion week) and a columnist for GQ. He has two apps — one for fitness, one for snappy dressing — and investments in a whey protein ice-cream maker and a sock subscription business. He wore some snowy smalls for Marks and Spencer last year to launch his David Gandy Underwear collection, a strong seller. And Gandy has just formally announced another business venture: his acquisition of the shoe company David Preston, which might explain why his glass-roofed basement extension is piled high with shoe boxes containing prototype designs.
Shoes by David Preston©Victoria Birkinshaw
Shoes by David Preston
This endeavour, he says, began with a pair of Paul Smith Chelsea boots (with a Cuban heel). “Everyone commented on them — they loved those shoes,” he says. Gandy loved them, too — to their death — but, because they were seasonal, could not replace them until a Paul Smith insider tipped him off about a Bethnal Green-based designer who specialised in just such a style.
“We met, had lunch, and he was a very interesting guy,” says Gandy. “David is very creative — he’d worked as a nurse for 20 years, then taught himself how to make these boots when he couldn’t find anything like them — and found a cult following.” Wearers of Preston’s rock star-appropriate footwear include members of Blur, Kasabian, Iggy and the Stooges and, since that meeting, Gandy. In October, he bought Preston’s company and has since recruited a PR and commercial team. With Preston in situ as creative director, the first Gandy-owned collection launches this weekend at London Collections: Men, and then at the Tranoï trade show in Paris. Preston plans to catch the eyes of wholesale buyers with a 15-style collection whose retail prices range from £350 to £520.
Walking me through the collection, Gandy says the Chelsea boots are still to the fore: “After all, that’s what brought us together, and the Chelsea boot is a style that reaches from west London to east London and beyond.” One of them, the Regent, is sized to fit female feet as well, and should exert a strong pull over women who hanker after Hedi Slimane’s best-selling “Babies” bootie for Saint Laurent.
The collection also offers Oxfords, brogues and monk straps that are more business-appropriate but, via patina, subtle detailing and rich colouring still retain a touch of swagger. There are also a few styles touched by flashes of velvet or suede that are made for partying.
Gandy is not an invisible proprietor — the first publicity shots for the brand feature one of him shoeless, in a bubble bath
Surely, though, the shoes market is saturated? What’s the niche? The Gandy brow furrows and he replies: “Guys are always asking me about clothes. Where would you buy a suit, knitwear, even a T-shirt — and what would you wear with what? And I always have something to advise. But when they used to say, ‘Here is my budget — £400, say — I want to spend a little bit on a pair of shoes but I don’t particularly want to go old school, where can I go?’ all I could think was to say, go to Russell & Bromley . . .  So that is the niche. To rival the best at an attainable price.”
Once the last was perfected, Preston travelled to a factory in Portugal to have the shoes made. Team Gandy has upgraded the manufacture, using Italian-made soles that are transported to Spain for the shoes’ final assembly. “We would have loved the manufacture to have been in the UK but, as well as being too expensive for the prices we want to sell at, the factories here tend to specialise in Goodyear welting [a strip of rubber that runs along the perimeter of the outsole] — exactly what we didn’t want,” says Gandy.
He is not an invisible proprietor — the first David Preston publicity shots feature one of Gandy, shoeless, in a bubble bath — but, even without his star power, the shoes make a compelling case as a half-priced alternative to designer shoes, which can cost upwards of £800. Gandy knows, though, that success is far from assured. “Fashion is a fiercely competitive business, for sure,” he says.
So is modelling — even when you’re David Gandy. “Male models have never had the cultural credentials of film stars or sports stars, and all those stars now want to model. They want a fragrance campaign, a clothing campaign, a beauty line — and, whatever they say, that’s modelling. No one seems willing now to take a chance on a brand new face like Dolce & Gabbana did with me,” he says.
Which partly explains why he’s striking out in business. Evidently, this is a passion project — “People say why are you doing it? Well, it’s exciting, and it’s different.” But Gandy is exerting caution in his new role as company chairman. He knows “there is always a risk when you invest your own money”. His father is a self-made businessman and Gandy seems determined to broaden his entrepreneurial portfolio: his other investments are, he says, promising and there are hints at further Gandy products in the pipeline — though he won’t be drawn on details.
There is a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. But it helps.
The new David Preston collection will be available at the end of Julydavidprestonshoes.com
Photographs by Victoria Birkinshaw
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