Meeting David Gandy at the Launch of David Gandy for Autograph in Hong Kong
September 24, 2014
Mel and Naz, fan page administrators of David Gandy Fans Australia tell us all about their trip to Hong Kong for the launch of David Gandy for Autograph and meeting David for the very first time.
Arriving a couple of days before the launch we headed over to the M&S store. On arrival, we saw David gloriously displayed all over the display windows and of course the excitement of the launch started to kick in! We decided to see if David’s collection was already out on the shelves but alas, apart from his regular M&S clothes on sale, there were no Gandy for Autograph items on display. We scooted back home, tired but excited about the day that would dawn; the day we would finally be able to meet David himself.
Eager to be one of the first ones in line to see David, we got up early to get ready. We were both surprisingly calm at first but as the hour count down neared midday, calm gave way to jittery excitement. No one would have been able to wipe the smiles off our faces – that, we were sure off.
We arrived at the M&S store at opening time, wanting to be in at least with the chance of seeing David close up. We have never really been big fans of anyone like we've been of David and therefore, we hadn't been to anything like this before and didn't know how these things worked. Was there going to be a huge crowd? Do we line up? Will we get to talk to him? How long is he going to be there for? The questions we kept asking each other in circles only made us acutely aware that today we will be seeing David in flesh!
When the doors opened to the store, it seemed awfully quiet. There was a black wall with David Gandy for Autograph printed all over it and a small section of the floor space near the entrance was cleared. Where is everybody, we wondered? First though, we didn't want to miss out on getting David’s merchandises. We hurried down to the men’s section and lo and behold, all of David’s range was out on the shelves. We quickly browsed and picked our favourites, marvelling at how soft the material was and how comfy every single item looked. Suffice to say, we were very proud fans!
When we finally returned to the entrance of the store with our purchases, the life size cut-outs were out. The M&S crew were milling around getting last minute things organised and the local media were getting set up for the launch. While we were waiting, we met Adele Woods, Head of Brand Events and Regional Marketing of Marks & Spencer. When we mentioned that we run the DGFA page, she was quick to give us priority tickets. We were lucky enough to secure the 3rd and 4th positions to meet David. We were over the moon! Yes, we were finally going to meet him in person after gushing over him after such a long time! I think if you could have seen us then, you would have seen stars in our eyes. Lol!
Soon, the store was filled with many, many fans. Moments before the launch we were asked to line up in order of the number given and we eagerly made our way to the front. We were constantly checking the entrance to see when David was going to appear so we could start recording and take pictures.
I was completely nervcited (combination of being nervous and excited!), which is probably why Naz asked if I was OK! I think I was nervous about not being able to speak when I met David! A tall, incredibly handsome, suave man appeared across the road, standing out from the crowd and was heading towards the store. It was David James Gandy in the flesh! With him were Larry King, the media and a few people from M&S I believe. The group was striking, David & Larry stood head and shoulders above the rest of the crew in height. I stared and stared and stared some more. I think this phenomenon is described as the ‘Gandy phenomenon’. Haha…
There was lots of cheering and fan-girling as David walked into the store. I’m glad I recorded David’s entrance because I cannot remember much of what I said except for, “Oh my God, he’s so beautiful”. I have a video that I will play for a life time to remember that! David stood where the signing was going to take place and had photos taken by media. He appeared exactly how we’d see him in videos and pictures, incredibly charming, shy yet confident. And that smirk, oh yes, that smirk of his had us fans swooning!
Shortly after the welcome, it was time for David to meet with his fans and sign autographs. I was minutes away from meeting David! I was no. 3 in line so gave me a chance to see how David interacted with fans, which would possibly help calm my nerves.
It was finally my turn. I walked up to David who welcomed me warmly. I introduced myself and also threw in the “I’m one of the fan page admins of David Gandy Fans Australia”. He was delighted and thanked us for our support. While he was signing my Gandy for Autograph card, we had a quick chat about the launch saying that it had gone well so far. David mentioned the news about appearing on a breakfast show in Australia and wanted our support to promote this on our page. This was 'The Mornings', program that David appeared live on 1st October, 2014. David asked if I was in HK on holiday. He was surprised when I told him that we came to HK for the launch. He asked how long the flight was from Australia to HK. I asked him about coming to Australia and mentioned that he was invited to receive an award at the GQ Australia Men of the Year awards however he couldn't attend as he had to attend a friend’s wedding which he said was at the same time. I've known David to be down to earth, modest and friendly and meeting him in person he was exactly that.
After the signing part was over, it was time to take a photo. I couldn't believe I asked David if I could give him a kiss on the cheek while taking a picture. His smile meant yes! There was a cheer from the crowd when I planted a kiss on David's cheek. In a panic Naz told me that my camera’s memory card was full! Adele, whom we had met earlier, told me not to worry, as she would take another photo and email it to me. So this basically meant I got to kiss David a second time around for another photo. And for the first time in my life, I was happy that my device had failed!
Seeing Mel meet David first somehow made me feel extremely anxious. I usually shy away from attention and seeing the media and the hyperventilating crowd around me, suddenly made me feel a touch out of place. What am I doing here? What was I going to say when I am face to face with David? It was an out of body experience for me.
Well, as it turns out – I didn’t have to say anything. David was extremely approachable. He reached out and shook my hand. He asked what my name was. He asked if I was with Mel (and when I told Mel - she proceeded to swoon and exclaim “He remembered my name!) I was both thrilled and taken aback by this man, who seemed to draw you into his conversation with his piercing baby blue eyes, and my frayed nerves slowly calmed down. You know how some people can make you feel as if you’re the only person in the room? Well, I say David perfected that technique. While we were chatting about his future appearance on Australian TV and the GQ event that he couldn’t attend, he smiled and signed my cards. He joked that he asked if the Australian TV appearance could have been scheduled at another date because he really didn’t want to miss his friend’s wedding and laughed when they said they couldn’t. Not that he thought they could but at least he tried, he said. He was such a gentleman – he thanked us for all that we do on the page and for coming all the way from Australia to see him. And in all of the couple of minutes I was with him, I had forgotten about the crowd. I could have sworn that we chatted a bit more when I replayed the video of me talking to him later on, but for the life of me I could not remember what we had talked about. The time seemed to go too quickly and all I was left with was the memory of a perfect gentleman and funnily enough, the feel of his soft woollen grey M&S suit under my palm when I hugged him for a picture.
Mel and I wanted to wait and watch David meet and greet his other fans. It’s not as if we get to see David Gandy everyday! While we were watched, we started chatting to Larry King. Larry was so lovely! He was very easy to talk to and he raved wonders about David. They seemed to have such a great friendship and the little snippets of stories he let us in on revealed to us how perfectly down-to-earth they were (E.g.: I asked who was taller between the two of them, and he answered “David thinks he is but in reality I know that I am at least a few centimetres taller than him. We often argue about that.” Ha!).
Larry got a sneaky peek at the merchandised we bought. He leaved through the Esquire Singapore Magazine and told us that David’s favourite picture was one of him walking Bubbles down the street with only his robe on. I butted in and said it was my favourite too, but I couldn’t find the robe anywhere in the store that day. And before I knew it, Larry was off and an M&S girl came back awhile later to tell me that we had to order the robe online.
On the same token, while we watched David, Mel went through her photos and was disappointed that some of the pictures didn't turn out as expected when her camera ran out of memory. Larry promised that David would retake the pictures if we wanted. News got to Adele some how and she gave us another opportunity to take a couple of pictures with David, which we were eternally grateful for.
I cannot say enough about David’s friends and the wonderful crew that surrounded him. They are genuine and try all that they can for David and his fans. This pleasantly surprised me.
The time was nearing to an end. After signatures, David got ready to do a short interview in the store. The table & chair got whisked away, and David disappeared behind the make-shift wall so Larry could work his magic on his hair (not that a strand was out of place, mind you!). David reappeared for the interview and then he was off!
Mel &I had an unforgettable day. But above all, we were thankful that we were one of the lucky few who got to meet David, have a conversation with him (albeit being only a short one) and have the opportunity to take our pictures with him. It was such a surreal experience, one that would live in our hearts forever.
More pictures from the launch can be seen on the DGFA page.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2015!