David Gandy was voted one of the world’s sexiest men by not one, but two British women’s magazine’s last year (Glamour and Cosmopolitan). He’s also ranked second on Forbes’ list of top-earning male models. When I sat down with the gent from Essex to talk fragrance (specifically Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue, for which he is the face and body), I was surprised at how dually down-to-earth and driven the man behind the muscle actually is. He strives to be on par with female supermodels, but he isn’t afraid to “flop like a seal” at a photo shoot with Bianca Balti and Mario Testino. Here, his thoughts on scent and why he’ll never fully embrace the iPhone.
You changed men’s modeling and helped designers embrace a more muscular physique. How do you feel about altering the face of an industry?
It’s an honor that people say that, but you can’t really put it down on just me. It was the genius of Dolce and Gabbana and Mario Testino—they came up with that concept of going against form in the modeling industry. Once a trend works, they all follow. [The campaign] worked for Light Blue, so everyone else—from Armani to Calvin Klein—all tried to copy the same thing. So yes, it has changed a lot, I really kind of hope I paved the way for guys, not just as using a more masculine man…but really competing with the female supermodels and not being complacent with or satisfied with what we have. Women are being paid so much more and they have so much more acclaim as a female model. I was like, ‘Why is this?’ The men usually don’t take it as serious as the women and they don’t have a business mind. We can compete with them; we can brand ourselves; we can be the ambassadors for [labels] instead of just modeling for them. In that way I hope I have changed [the industry].
You shot with three different models thus far for various Light Blue campaigns. How does the dynamic change on set and is there a Light Blue woman that stands out as your favorite?
A favorite—I can’t possibly say. First of all, when we did the Light Blue with the first girl [Marija Vujović], we didn’t know the impact it was going to have. It was all very new and we didn’t know each other. Then we shot the second one with Anna [Jagodzińska] and had big shoes to fill. We got on very well, had a great laugh, and the second one was probably the most fun. Now, with Bianca [Balti] the dynamic has slightly changed. In the first two [campaigns], I was the domineering Mediterranean man, and in this one, she’s the Mediterranean Latin woman—she’s more domineering of me. The shoot with Bianca—she’s so lovely to work with—but she is the definition of that Latin Mediterranean woman. She is the one that fits the mold best.
Which Dolce and Gabbana fragrance is your favorite on a woman?
You are going to think this is so cliché, but actually I still love the women’s Light Blue. It’s just a classic fragrance. When [I] first started negotiating with Dolce & Gabbana and they said it was for a fragrance with P&G and we didn’t know what it was, my mom said ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if it was Light Blue because that’s the one I use.’ It turned out that it was the Light Blue for men. It was such a strange coincidence, but it was one of those coincidences in life that makes you say ‘I wonder if that was meant to be?’
So when you smell Light Blue, does it remind you of your mother?
No, it reminds me of the first time we shot really…Light Blue just takes me back to that first trip to Naples and Capri.
Where do you spray cologne?
I’m probably quite traditional, so around my neck. My girlfriends say that…when they then wear my clothes, they can smell me, Light Blue.
What about on a woman—where should a woman spray fragrance—perhaps someplace more risqué than just the pulse points?
Oh God, I don’t know. That’s for me to know and her to know, I think. A fragrance is so important to me on a woman. There is nothing worse than when you really like someone but can’t stand that fragrance they have. It’s quite weird when you miss someone and you smell that [scent] on someone else—it totally takes you back to that person.
As far as shooting the latest campaign, you said that you are playing the secondary role to stronger female counterpart, so what was that like?
It was not the easiest shoot because the weather didn’t really play ball, but just standing up on the boat was tricky for both of us because it was so rocky. Even when the weather became beautiful the sea was still quite rough, and that was the first time we’ve had that. It was quite comical; we were in hysterics trying to stand up. You have to look domineering and sexy and everything else, but Bianca was falling all over the place and I was trying holding her up. Mario was shouting at us to try and look sexy, and try and do this, and try to do that—it was quite funny. On the video [spot for Light Blue] I have to push myself off the boat. If anyone has tried that, [they know] there is not an elegant way of doing it—it’s one of the hardest things to do.
You made it look relatively easy.
Well, after many, many takes. The [raft] was connected to a speedboat and we were going around and around. Once it would be in position, they shouted, ‘David go again,’ and I was being absolutely torn to pieces by the sea. I put my arm in [the boat] just so I didn’t have to keep treading water, and then [the director] said to the speedboat ‘Go!’ My arm was still [attached] so it dragged me off. Everyone was saying, ‘No, David’s connected!’ By that stage, we were laughing so much anyway and Bianca was in hysterics.
About how many takes did it take to get that shot?
I didn’t want to hang around too long, but it was probably four or five takes. But you get exhausted after treading water and having to push yourself off the boat. The first time I did it, I looked like a seal trying to get up onto a boat—I was sort of flopping on, but [eventually I was able] to do it more eloquently.
Fragrance aside, what is the rest of your beauty regime like? What are your skincare must-haves?
There isn’t much to it. It went everywhere for some reason when I said in an interview that I use rose oil, but really it’s because I fly so much, you know how it is, it just dehydrates the skin. A makeup artist asked if I ever tried organic rose oil, and I said no, so she put that on my face and it worked wonders. It’s my little secret. Otherwise I just use moisturizer, fragrance, a bit of hair gel and that’s about it.
What’s your go-to hair gel?
The one at the moment is an Aveda product that’s not even mine. It’s actually my hairstylist’s. He’s got that one and he mostly does the hair—I leave that to him, he’s the expert.
You are traveling so much for you job, so what do you pack? What’s one of your must-haves that you always bring with you?
For some reason, I have a bag of chargers. I don’t know about everyone else, but everything needs to be charged, so I have a separate bag of these chargers that seem to take up half my bag and all the adaptors for them. My Mac goes everywhere with me—that’s probably my one savior with communication, but really if I could not lose anything, its my Blackberry. I would rather lose my wallet and my cards than my Blackberry.
Interesting that you’re a Blackberry man. You won’t switch to the iPhone?
I love the iPhone, but if they come out with a keyboard I’m there. It takes me about a half hour to type one message with fingers and thumbs. Its really great for slight hands but my thumbs cover half the screen. I think I’m going to be one of those people that have two—the Blackberry and the iPhone—so you have all the apps, you have everything. I have my own iPhone application, that’s the thing; I actually have two of them. But I can just go down the road and use my keyboard and not even look where I’m going and type a message. It’s quite amazing in the fashion industry how so many people still have Blackberrys. I mean we are on the forefront of design and trends and everyone comes in and gets their sneaky little Blackberry out—it’s still old school.
I like a guy who appreciates the classics.
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For W Magazine March 2014 ‘Pillow Tweets’, photography duo Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott gather a few (insta) celebrity friends and their legions of followers for some serious social networking. With styling by fashion and style director Edward Enninful, David Gandy [Ford Men] casually poses for the camera in Brooks Brothers boxer shorts and American Apparel socks. Lounging in bed in a state of undress has never looked so good.