It’s hard not to be intimidated by David Gandy, or rather by the idea of him. Of course, as soon as he steps through the door and grins, you realise that you can relax – and that he’s human, like the rest of us. Beforehand, though, it’s hard not to feel at least some trepidation. It’s not every day of the week that you meet the man who the media regularly holds up as an ‘icon of modern masculinity’, after all. What makes the experience even more surreal is that Gandy freely admits he finds this pedestal as strange as the rest of us. “I know it sounds odd, but being a model has never come naturally to me,” he says, perched on the side of the pool table at No.24c Old Burlington Street. “It’s a bit like being an actor, where you find yourself taking on a role and becoming someone else to get the job done. I don’t ever see the ‘me’ that appears on camera as myself.” So, who is David Gandy, then? What sits behind the piercing blue eyes you’ll see staring down at you from glossy billboards and advertising hoardings? “I’m not sure if I can really define what I actually do, these days,” he continues, stoically, “I just like to graft. Fingers in pies, as the old saying goes.” You’ll probably already know that Gandy fell into modelling after winning a contest on ITV’s breakfast show This Morning in 2001, and that he shot to fame as the face of Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue fragrance campaign, photographed by Mario Testino in 2007. But, following a 20-year-long career, Gandy has transcended the role of male model extraordinaire, and now is part consultant, part creative director, part investor. To this end, he works with a wide variety of luxury brands on their strategy and visuals, and he helps to power-up or mentor young brands too. “It’s the way I’m wired up. It’s a natural thing for me just to keep on pushing boundaries and seeing what I can achieve; I like to always be moving forward,” he says.
In a similar vein, David’s charity work is also important to him. He’s worked with countless organisations over the years; ranging from mental health support groups to cancer awareness charities, and the past year has been no different. Quite apart from his long-term work with a range of pet charities including Wild At Heart and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home – “it’s a passion of mine,” he says – he spent most of 2020 working closely with Achievement For All, a charity system that supports the educations of under-achieving children in school. “The statistics around education are crazy,” Gandy explains. “Currently, the education system is struggling to meet the needs of one in five children in classrooms; from behavioural issues to the fact that almost two million kids in the UK don’t have access to a laptop. So, I’ve become an ambassador for the charity and I’m working with a couple of big tech companies to provide more tech for schools. That’s been quite exciting for the past few months.”
Spend any time chatting to David and it becomes apparently pretty quickly that he really cares about the things he chooses to take on. Back in the realm of fashion, Gandy has worked with many a high-profile designer label over the years, but he’s always gone out of his way to fly the flag for independent British brands too. “I’ve never used a stylist,” he says, “so hopefully people know by now that I only wear what I like. When I started attending Fashion Week, I chose to wear a suit at a moment in time when no-one else was. It just always made sense to me, British style is built on tailoring.” There’s a picture emerging here. Alongside the rakish good looks and impeccable dress sense, one can’t help but feel that Gandy is also a thoroughly grounded, decent individual. Small wonder so many people admire him all over the world. Does the pressure of being an international role model play on his mind, then? “To be honest, I’ve never really thought of myself as a role model,” he says, chalking up his pool cue and leaning over the table to play. “I push for what I believe in and work on things where I think I can make a difference. I can safely say that what you see is what you get with me, whether I’m a good role model or not.”
“It’s the way I’m wired up. It’s a natural thing for me just to keep on pushing boundaries and seeing what I can achieve; I like to always be moving forward”