David Gandy in Rome. Photo: Getty
The most disconcerting thing about David Gandy - aside from those piercing blue eyes - is his use of the royal "we". He uses it throughout our interview. This is partly because he's talking on behalf on his fellow male models about their collective struggle for recognition, partly on behalf of himself and his longstanding agent Heidi, and partly (I hope) because he really is fashion royalty. Since making its way into the English lexicon during the 1980s, the term supermodel has applied pretty exclusively to the ladies. Fashion likes to do things differently, and while in almost every profession men still get more promotions and fatter pay cheques, when it comes to modelling it's women rule that roost. Even naming a male model is a bit of a challenge - that is except for Mr David Gandy.
But it's only when you meet this man that you really understand why he's achieved recognition that he has. Yes it's the look – rugged and macho a fashion world applauds the anaemic and androgynous, but he's also articulate, opinionated and incredibly determined.
Call it the Zoolander effect but the kneejerk assumption about male models is that they are ineffective and, let's be honest, not that bright. Gandy is acutely aware of how male models are regarded: "The guys are treated completely differently; female models are way up there in the fashion industry pecking order and guys are way down low."
Does he resent the way his compatriots are portrayed compared to the female models? "It has been a challenge but we've enjoyed the challenge. We use the women as an incentive because they show us where we want to be – you need to question why do the women [models] earn so much money? Why do they have so much acclaim?"
Two rather incongruous duos have played a key role in getting Gandy's career where it is today. In 2002 he won a modelling completion on Richard & Judy's This Morning, after a university housemate sent in some Polaroids of him. This set him on a fairly successful path, but his breakthrough came thanks to Italian powerhouses Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. They gave him catwalk spots before featuring him in their"Light Blue" fragrance campaign. The Mario Testino shoot got 11 million online hits and saw a 50ft poster of his torso grace Times Square. Despite all this, he's not comfortable when the term supermodel: "I think 'super' is a strange word -I'm lucky to be at the top of my game, but I think of it in the same way that you think of a top athlete".
Models might be winners in gene pool lottery but Gandy is adamant that his success is not simply a case of good fortune. "You really have to think for yourself as a model and you need to make your own luck – there are plenty of times when I'd turn up uninvited to a casting and then went ahead and got the show". His alliance with Dolce & Gabanna was not down to chance either. Gandy rocked up to uninvited to photographer Mariano Vivanco's birthday party because he knew the designers would be there and made sure they saw him.
He admits he's learnt a lot about fashion since he was discovered all those years ago on morning TV. "Fashon-wise I was very utilitarian. I was a sports guy so just wore what was comfortable. Now? I can tell a well tailored suit at 400 paces." But it's ties that really upset him, "I just watch the news and the weather sometimes and just think 'I wish he's do that tie properly or someone would teach him how to tie a tie. Ties drive me around the bend."
Another thing that irritates the model now is the media, especially since he started dating Mollie King earlier this year: "You learn people write what they want to write and in the end you become much more of recluse." He admits that the intrusion into his private life is something that he'll never get use used to. "There is a lot of paparazzi around us; I really don't like it and will do pretty much anything to get rid of them when I'm not working." Even being a supermodel doesn't make him immune from physical criticism he says. "It's hard being scrutinised for how you look and what you wear. Does it bother me? Yes of course, I think it would bother everyone."
Gandy is currently based in Fulham, but the hardest thing about maintaining a 'normal' relationship is the travel. "I worked out that in 10 years I've done more than 600 flights and I've perfected my queuing methods to get through quickly in airports. It's insane. If you have ever seen Up In The Air, that's pretty much my life."
David has launched Martini's 'Kisser Casting', which has been unveiled on Martini's Facebook page.
Chosen by David and his judging panel, the winner will become the new face of Martini. Oh, and they win 150,000 euros.
See some of his best moments in the gallery below.