'Being a man is back in fashion': Model David Gandy debates all things style at Oxford University and shares his diary exclusively with FEMAIL
13:20 GMT, 22 November 2012
Essex boy David Gandy is the world's only male supermodel, bursting on to the scene in a pair of tight white pants as the star of Dolce & Gabbana's steamy fragrance adverts six years ago.
Today he is the poster boy for men's fashion, diversifying his brand from cover star and catwalk king to launching his own apps, starring in a short film, working as part of the BFC Men's Collection: London Committee and representing the UK internationally as part of the Olympic Closing Ceremony's fashion tribute.
This week he was invited back to Oxford University for the second time to debate the importance of men's fashion with acclaimed editor of Esquire magazine Alex Bilmes and here he writes exclusively for FEMAIL about the experience.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MEN'S FASHION by DAVID GANDY
'This week, together with Alex Bilmes, Editor of Esquire Magazine, I was privileged to be invited back to Oxford University to address the Union about “The importance of men's fashion.”
'The University President kindly gave us a private tour of the beautiful building, rich in history and, as we were to find out, also in the caliber of previous speakers, whose images graced the walls.
'The Queen. The Dalai Lama. Mother Theresa … I looked at Alex, part humbled, part terrified. We shared a silent 'no pressure' glance, smiled and adjusted our ties as I took another gulp of my Guinness wondering why I'd brought it with me from the bar when no one else seemed to …
Model speech: David Gandy and Esquire editor Alex Bilmes at Oxford University
'I’m very fortunate in my job. Strange yet wonderful opportunities and situations like this come along from time to time – like being part of the Olympics Closing Ceremony, shooting with Mario Testino for the D&G Light Blue ad, having my image on the side of Virgin America flights, on billboards in Times Square and on London buses (its quite embarrassing when one stops next to you at a traffic light. And even more so if you’re sat on it!). I never really get used to it.
'Fashion is a subject I’ve become increasingly passionate about since working in the industry (I had little knowledge or interest in it at University). As I looked around the full room of students who had come especially to hear us speak, I wondered what, if any, influence our discussion might have on their careers.
David Gandy spoke to students about the importance of men's fashion
'Whilst menswear is still far behind women’s wear in many ways, we are experiencing a boom in the industry and a resurgence in men’s fashion. The stigma that there once was around a heterosexual man having pride in their appearance is going – it’s OK to care about your appearance. Being a man, is back in fashion.
'We now have our own dedicated men’s fashion week in London (London Collections: Men), talent from film, TV and music are modeling for fashion brands, Esquire are launching their own biannual style supplement next year and the explosion of mobile/social media and online plays to men’s shopping habits – speed and ease.
Model David Gandy's TV advert for Dolce & Gabbana's Light Blue Pour Homme
'Without a sticky Union carpet in sight, we entered the beautiful Union debate room, itself very stylish and full of well dressed students. Suddenly I became very aware of my tongue (was it always this size).
'Our hour long discussion covered many areas of men’s fashion from it’s impact on the economy, Britain’s strong heritage in style, history, how men shop and changes in men’s media, right through to why it’s important to take an interest in your appearance.
'It was great fun – the questions from the floor were smart and funny. No, I don’t feel objectified by women, but I do feel the pressure of high expectation! No, I don’t think I’m the best looking man in the world – not even the best looking man in the room
Strike a pose: David Gandy took questions from students at Oxford University for the second time
'Our hour had almost ended. I wondered if our talk was quite as intellectual as those shared by previous speakers. The last question, ‘What’s the most important part of a man's wardrobe’ was a nice easy one to finish on. 'Men’s shoes are hugely important' I answered, and went on to explain why.
'With that, I checked mine, straightened my jacket and walked into the room of students to have a drink with them in person – to find many of them looking at their shoes too. So, perhaps some of what we had shared had resonated after all
'Who knows, maybe some of these students will be our creative designers, fashion journalists or model faces of tomorrow The future of men’s fashion presents great opportunity and growth. I hope we inspired some people to look at it seriously as a potential career for them.'
Model behaviour: David Gandy attended the Elle Style Awards held early this year at London's the Savoy hotel.
David Gandy and girlfriend Sarah Ann Macklin attended the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home's Collars and Coats Gala Ball earlier this month