DEK: David Gandy has made a career out of doing things his way, whether being the first male model nominated for the British Fashion Council's Model of the Year award in 2010 or being the only man in the epic 2012 London Olympics Fashion Show, Gandy has shown he's not afraid of going against the grain. Now with another Model of the Year nomination under his belt, the Dolce & Gabbana muse talks about his rise from humble college student to one of the fashion industry's most important icons. BODY: On a hot July afternoon in Hollywood, David Gandy sits, fidgeting slightly as he waits patiently for the interview to start. It's a simple setting: just a stool in front of a white canvas, and it only serves to highlight Gandy's striking features. With his slicked back hair and famous piercing blue eyes, he looks almost ethereal; it's like you're staring into one of his famous billboards above Times Square or sitting across from a real-life James Bond. If it weren't for the occasional good-natured smirk, you'd have a hard time believing otherwise. It's difficult to imagine a time when Gandy wasn't planted firmly at the top of the fashion world. Since 2006, the Essex-born model has been the de facto face of Dolce & Gabbana, appearing in numerous campaigns for everything from fragrances to swimwear. In the process, he has established himself as an international superstar and redefined what is possible for male models everywhere. Not bad for someone who originally had no interest in modeling. "I wouldn't have actively pursued modeling," he admits. "I wouldn't have approached agencies; probably if I'd been approached in the street, I wouldn't have accepted the idea." When his friends initially told him to enter a modeling contest airing on TV, Gandy scoffed at the idea. His roommate at the time refused to allow the all-too-modest college student to pass up such a golden opportunity and secretly mailed in photos of him. The judges loved what they saw, and it wasn't long before he received a call from Select Modeling Agency. Of course, not knowing anything about the contest, Gandy thought the whole thing was a prank. "I put the phone down to them," David says, smiling. "I didn't know anything about it!" Eventually, he was convinced to enter, and after winning the contest, he hasn't looked back. "I had just finished university, and I thought [modeling] might be an adventure for a couple of years." But when Dolce & Gabbana decided to take a chance on Gandy for their Light Blue fragrance campaign, fashion history was made. At the time, Gandy's body style was deemed "too big." Most male models had followed the lead of their female counterparts and become ridiculously skinny. The masculine aesthetic was nowhere to be seen, with most major designers choosing to highlight androgynous models in their major campaigns. He was told repeatedly that if he wanted to find work, he'd have to lose weight. Instead of following orders, however, he did the opposite—he hit the gym and got bigger, adding on pounds of muscle to his already athletic frame. Dolce & Gabbana loved what they saw and quickly made Gandy the face of their brand. "We put the male model industry on its head," says Gandy. "The industry went from skinny androgynous guys to more muscular. It all stemmed from Light Blue." Soon, it seemed like everyone was copying D & G's vision of a return to male masculinity. Even David Beckham got in on the action, as billboards splashed with images of him bare-chested in white shorts began to pop up all over the world. The "Gandy look" had become a sensation. As Gandy speaks about his past, it quickly becomes obvious why he has been able to stay at the top of an industry that's notorious for chewing up and spitting out its participants. There's a certain sense of modesty and charisma about him, and although many might have a hard time believing that someone who seemingly has it all can stay even remotely grounded, you get the feeling that being a model isn't all that defines Gandy. The name of his charity, Blue Steel Appeal (after the Ben Stiller pose in Zoolander) shows he has a definite sense of humor about what he does. When he's not in front of the camera, he writes and often serves as somewhat of an ambassador of all things British. He seems to regard his considerable success and fame with skepticism, always deflecting praise towards those around him. When asked how it feels to be known as a universal style icon, he reminds that it is the support staff around him that puts together the wardrobe and takes the pictures. "I just stand there," he says with a grin.
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