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Newsmakers

David Gandy: A model & a gentleman

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star

His, really, was a face women couldn’t forget. After watching the Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue sizzler where a dark-haired god with piercing eyes the color of the Mediterranean seduces both the woman with him and the men who want to seduce women with Dolce & Gabbana, I had a new potsticker in my mind.

His name was David Gandy, and he is reputedly the world’s highest paid male model. So when I heard he was coming to Manila to do an ad campaign for SM Men’s Fashion, I felt he was giving not just SM Men’s Fashion a boost — he was elevating Philippine fashion to a higher runway. It would be like Julia Roberts coming to Manila to attend the premiere of her own movie at SM Aura.

Standing at six feet two inches, he has graced several ad campaigns and 47 different magazine covers including Vogue and GQ.

Best known as brand ambassadors of Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue and Jaguar cars, David, 33, was named the Sexiest Man of 2013 by Cosmopolitan magazine.

When Ayen Florendo, SM Men’s Fashion assistant vice president for marketing, invited me to a one-on-one with David, I felt like I was going to be on the same white rubber raft with him (just like his D&G co-star Bianca Balti), on the blue waters off the Isle of Capri.

I was given exactly 10 minutes to interview David, and was politely asked to choose two questions out of a set of about a dozen guide questions.

“No personal questions, please,” his manager, Sam, warned me.

Like a true gentleman, David rose when I entered the Coral Room of the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City and he shook my hand before offering me the seat in front of him. He said he loved the Philippines even if he hadn’t seen much of it yet (he said he was being taken good care of at the Shangri-La Makati, where he and his team were billeted) and hadn’t tried Filipino food just yet. He is said to favor healthy food — salads, roast chicken, sushi. He only had Pellegrino sparkling water while I was interviewing him.

Except for the fact that we were surrounded by a production team and his manager in the Coral Room, well, David and I could have been on the same raft in Capri. (Well, I’m allowed to stretch my imagination, ain’t I?) We were a few feet apart and I could see my reflection in his clear blue eyes. They were so blue, so clear, his pupils stood out like moles in a clear blue sea. I could have sunk into those blue irises, the way I probably would have on the blue waters off Capri. Perhaps, part of the 10 minutes I was given to interview him melted away while I was looking at those blue eyes.

“I’m actually a shy person,” he said, looking very dapper in his dark brown blazer and blue chinos from SM Men’s Fashion.

David was born to a working-class family in Essex, England and he was discovered when he joined a modeling contest. He wanted to be a veterinarian when he was a boy and still has a soft spot for animals.

“Starting out in the modeling industry was challenging,” he recalled, “but staying where I am right now is even more challenging. It means thinking out of the box.”

Perhaps it was superfluous to ask the world’s top male model my next question: What is your best physical asset?

He answered my question with hearty laughter. “I don’t know what my best asset is.” Seriously?

“I think it’s my being hardworking,” he conceded.

When he’s on the runway, a thousand eyes staring at him, idolizing him even, watching his every move, could he say he has found true happiness?

David, who reportedly recently broke up with his girlfriend Samantha Barks, who played Eponine in Les Misérables, pondered the question for a moment, then said, “Happiness is more than just the applause. It’s spending time with those you care for, family, friends. It’s a good dinner. It’s laughter. It’s caring for others.”

Telegraph.co.uk reported recently that David, in fact, was putting himself up for “auction” to raise funds for cats and dogs in an animal shelter.

Well, the lucky winner of a date with David is going to feel and see the blues…

***

“David Gandy is a brand on his own,” says Ayen Florendo, who, together with SM VP for men’s fashion Jeff Lo, has given the SM Men’s Fashion brand world-class stature. “Our partnership with him is a collaboration with a man whose opinions in fashion matter. He is not just a pretty foreign male face. He’s got the looks, the charm and a chivalrous reputation that embody the modern man that SM Men’s Fashion aspires to dress up.”

Chivalrous I can attest to in my 10 minutes of fan-girl moments with him. To Ayen, whom he saw teary-eyed after the rehearsals for the SM Men’s Fashion show in which he was the grand finale (SM’s lady boss Tessie Coson was in the audience), David said, “Why are you crying?”

“Because I’m happy,” Ayen answered, “Am beyond happy!”

And David replied, “I’m happy that you’re happy!”

“I can’t believe I will be seeing the names ‘David Gandy’ and ‘SM Men’s Fashion’ in one campaign!” says Ayen. “He came, he saw, we conquered.”

(You may e-mail me at [email protected].)

AYEN FLORENDO

BECAUSE I

BIANCA BALTI

BLUE

CORAL ROOM

DAVID

DAVID GANDY

FASHION

MEN

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