In his regular blog for Vogue UK, David Gandy recounts his latest and first job for an Asian brand. Highlighting the warmth of the people and culture, as well as the significance of the emerging economy, Gandy confirms what many of us have known for years: modelling in South East Asia can be a dream.
I had a rather wonderful experience when I went to the Philippines a couple of weeks ago. This wasn't a holiday (I haven't taken one this year), but for work with my first Asian brand called SM Men's fashion.
We have had many offers from Asian brands over the last year as this market is becoming so important to all industries now. For some reason, the Philippines intrigued me and once I had researched more about the brand, the Philippines, and had spoken at length about the ideas and expansions of SM, I knew that this was a great place to start and one which will hopefully lead to a continued relationship over the coming years. Southeast Asia is maybe not considered to be an area of importance when expanding fashion brands, however it has a very promising and emerging economy.
The surreal part of the trip, which only lasted two days, was the way we were treated. Never in 13 years of working have we been treated with such respect and thoughtfulness and it started immediately as I got off the plane, not that I wanted to get off the plane as I flew Emirates first class and it was stunning. I was then taken from the plane, rushed through security, I didn't even have to collect my luggage as it was brought to the hotel later. I was taken by police escort to the hotel where I was whisked off to the Presidential Suite to be met by my butler, Dante. I had to pinch myself and couldn't help but think of the mouse-infested hotel, where I had to share a bathroom with a whole floor of people when I first went to NYC as I started modelling.
The wonderful respectful nature of the Philippino people is what made the trip so special. Entering a new and emerging fashion market can sometimes be precarious, however SM were open to everything we suggested - from flying over photographers and digital and lighting experts, to considering all of our styling recommendations when it came to shooting. On the final evening I was unveiled as the face of SM Men's fashion at their annual fashion shown and the most astonishing runway design where I walked out to a live orchestra. As I said, a surreal and wonderful experience.
This makes it all the sadder, when I see the news of the horrific Typhoon that recently hit and the tens of thousands feared dead. The level of destruction is on a scale I cannot even imagine and my thoughts go out to all the people there. If you would like to help, I cannot think of a better way than with donations to the following charity - Shelterbox.org/donate.php.
Read the full piece at Vogue UK.