With turbo-charged talent and masculine good looks, British übermodel David Gandy (@davidgandyofficial) is Gio’s Iconic Man of the Decade.

Like a shiny black Jaguar XKE, David Gandy is a combination of sex appeal and high performance. Beyond gracing magazine covers and ads for underwear and perfume, he writes and blogs, designs loungewear, loves dogs and classic cars, and supports multiple charities. Plus, with those blue eyes and athletic bod, he causes pulses to race everywhere he goes.

Photography by John Russo, @johnrussophoto
Interview by Rose Cefalu, @rosecefalu
Styling by Justin Lynn, @justinlynnstyling
Grooming by Michelle Harvey, @groomedbymichelleharvey, using Dior Homme and Oribe

Featuring vintage Jaguar XKE
Edited by Bonnie Davidson

You are the world’s top male model, which I’m sure took plenty of hard work and perseverance. What has been the most difficult part of your ascent?
Nothing has been particularly easy, but the challenging side has been the most rewarding. The most difficult part has been the breaking down of barriers, firstly, of what male models could achieve. I had to prove that male models could brand their name and go on to earn as much as the top female models.  Once that was achieved, it was to break down the preconceptions of not only male models, but also of the fashion industry, and to prove that I could diversify into business, investments, journalism and now the creative side.

Did you know early on in life that you wanted to be a model? Can you tell us about your first paid modeling job? 
I never aspired or thought of becoming a model. I was entered into a modelling competition by my university housemate without my knowledge. I won that competition and went from there.  The first paid modeling job was a lookbook for Paul Smith. But I have tried to find every copy and destroy them because I was so new and didn’t know how to model. The results were awful.

If you could choose another profession besides modeling, what would it be? And why?
Modeling has opened many doors. I have written for Vogue, GQ, London Telegraph, Vanity Fair, etc. I have invested in many young British fashion brands and started my own clothing lines in collaboration with other larger, more famous fashion companies. I have been stepping away from being in front of the camera to behind it—not photography, but creative directing and content ideas and direction.

You have traveled the globe and seen the world’s most amazing places. What is your favorite destination thus far?
My parents educated myself and [my] sister through travel. They have done this since we were young. So even though I have been to many incredible places traveling for my job,  it has been nothing compared to our family trips. I honestly don’t think there is one particular location I could call my favorite; they have all been very special. From trekking gorilla in Uganda to fishing for piranha in the Amazon rain forest, they have all been incredible educational experiences. It is from these experiences that [I learned] why giving back and charity work is so important. So I work closely with around 10 charities and I’m ambassador of five.

How do you define your personal style and who are your style icons, past and present?
I am probably known best for my love of tailoring. However, I take a lot of inspiration from style icons and Hollywood greats that were true men, such as Paul Newman, James Dean, Marlon Brando, etc. Like them, I love my cars and I race, so my casual style is a very utilitarian way of dressing. You will usually find me in jeans/chinos, white T-shirt and a Barbour or Belstaff jacket. In today’s world, there are not enough individuals and I feel everyone is so highly styled by brands and stylists. Ryan Gosling dresses very well. And Tom Ford is always impeccably dressed.

In the last 70 years fashion has changed so much. With which decade do you associate your personal style? 
I suppose for the tailoring aspect of my style, my influence is the 1950s and ’60s. However, I don’t associate with any particular era or decade. I try to be individual and take inspiration from all decades.

Tell us something that no one really knows about you.
I hate having my photo taken. People laugh when I say this, but I have never been a natural in front of the camera. I hate being center of attention and I am actually quite naturally shy.

Gio has named you Iconic Man of the Decade. The vast majority of men want to be you, while women (and some men, too) want to be with you. How do you feel about being idolized? 
I don’t think anyone can live up to that. I’m honored to be called Iconic Man of the Decade. However, I don’t believe you can ever think of yourself in this way. I hopefully have kept myself quite grounded and my friends and family wouldn’t accept me any other way. People often say “Wow, you are so nice and normal,” and I often find this statement quite strange. I think there is a way people, post millennials especially, think you should act if you are in the public eye or famous. Or even a way they would act if they were in the same position and, therefore, find it strange when you are different from that.

If you can change one thing about the world’s current situation, what would it be and why?
Is it just me or is the world becoming an ever stranger place to live in? In the U.K., we have voted to leave Europe, so we are going through the Brexit negotiations. Obviously in the U.S., Trump has become president. There appears to be greater division and discord in the world today than I can remember in my lifetime. There are so many situations that need to evolve and change. The things I truly believe in, I try to help support and change and give awareness to through my charities. From animal welfare with Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to achievement for all, and the education of children within the U.K. to Save the Children, which improves the lives of children all over the world. Children and animals are vulnerable and need protection, help and guidance, and this is where most of my energy goes.

In 100 years, when someone sees your amazing body of work, the beautiful photos, the campaigns, the ads…What will you most want them to know about you?
I would like to think they don’t just judge me on those images and think that I just stood there having my picture taken. I would like them to hopefully realize what else has been achieved.