Tom Ford: “I paid $ 90,000 for my own dress. The clothes we make cannot be thrown away ‘| Fashion
Tom Ford answers my call exactly as I had hoped: with a smooth voice and the grace of Cary Grant.
We’re in touch to discuss his latest project, an illustrated book about the last 15 years of his career – or “post-Gucci” as those who are familiar with luxury fashion prefer to describe the era after Ford’s departure from the Italians, super brand.
Tom ford 002, which is 444 pages long, contains images by photographers such as Mert and Marcus and Inez & Vinoodh, as well as a foreword by Anna Wintour. The featured celebrity list reads like lining up one of the first rows of Ford’s fashion shows, with Drake, Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez among the headliners.
But first of all, the gentleman prefers small talk. âAre you in London? How wonderful. I miss it, âhe says of the city he used to call home.
Ford, a native Texan, approaches me from Beverly Hills, where he has lived since moving from the UK in 2019. It is noon where he is and the sun is shining. âI do a lot of zooms, but it’s good to talk like that. That means I didn’t have to get up and take a shower beforehand, âhe says. It’s comforting to discover that the man credited with reinventing sex appeal is enjoying some kind of duvet day.
Relaxed is not a term commonly associated with Ford. As a designer, he remains true to the high-octane glamor with which he turned Gucci into a billion-dollar business. His brand, which includes womenswear, menswear and cosmetics, is a status symbol for the super-rich. His dazzling advertising campaigns, instantly recognizable as Fords, are an extension of his aesthetic.
A self-confessed “hyper-virgin”, Ford has an unforgiving eye for everything from floral arrangements (single-stemmed grapes only) to the length of a shirt cuff. He is also the star designer of fashion. Catwalk shows for the label of the same name, which he launched in 2004, are attracting a guest list that can rival the Oscars. Julianne Moore and Rihanna are regulars. In 2013 Jay-Z named a song in his honor.
Ford feels comfortable among Hollywood’s top tier because he’s in it. After separating from the Gucci group, he switched from fashion to the film set. Ford’s films – A Single Man (2009) and Nocturnal Animals (2019) – were nominated for the Oscars. Both are beautiful to look at.
At home, where he lives with his nine-year-old son Jack, Ford’s life has turned upside down. Richard Buckley, his 35-year-old partner and Jack’s other parent died in August. It seems poignant that Ford’s new book, the result of much deliberation, should hit the shelves when he comes to terms with such a loss. “When Richard saw the book, he said, ‘There’s a lot of water under the bridge,’ turned and left the room,” says Ford.
A photo of Jack is one of Ford’s favorite additions to the book. âIt’s the only recording I’ve ever released publicly of him. He was five when it was recorded so no one would recognize him by it, âhe says.
An open Q&A with Bridget Foley of Women’s Wear Daily is also included. In it, Ford talks about everything from leaving Gucci to being part of the only gay couple at the golf club, describing his son as his “number one focus.”
The designer also highlights the power of good taste in the genes of the Buckley Ford family. âWhen he was five, someone at school once asked what the worst thing you could think of was. Jack said, “Brown shoes with a black belt.”
Working on the book meant Ford sifted through thousands of pictures. “It was interesting to spend so much time looking back,” he tells me, “I don’t do that often.”
His reluctance to take stock is a holdover from his time at Gucci, when there was no time to think, a time that led to burnout and what he called what he called a âmidlife crisisâ. âIt’s hard to look back when you have to keep producing,â he says. “I remember having dinner with Karl Lagerfeld and he told me that I would only understand how well things would go in the future if I had the chance to return.”
Undoubtedly, this period of reflection enabled Ford to see how much things have progressed. He cites an âobsession with political correctnessâ as a disadvantage of this generation of fashion designers. âThe demolition culture inhibits design, because instead of feeling free, the tendency is to be bound by a set of rules. Everything is now viewed as appropriation. We used to be able to celebrate other cultures. Now you can’t do that. “
Ford, the elected chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and perhaps the chicest environmentalist in the world, welcomes the call to the luxury world to reduce its impact on the planet. He started doing his part at home. âI switched to aluminum straws, got rid of single-use plastic,â he says. In 2017, Ford announced that it was vegan. “I really don’t need meat,” he says, credits the Netflix documentary What the Health for inspiring the diet change.
He applies the same mindset to his business – Ford’s label sells $ 2 billion (Â£ 1.48 billion) annually, while Tom Ford Beauty sells 1 billion. âPeople are well looked after,â he says.
For Ford, true luxury fashion is inherently sustainable. He tells me that he recently paid $ 90,000 for a dress he designed during his tenure at Yves Saint Laurent to add to his archives. âThe clothes we make cannot be thrown away,â he says.
Ford seems to be fascinated and repulsed by the digitization of fashion.
âThe future of fashion is becoming more and more cartoonish,â he says. âInstagram broke the rules. People dress up to take photos of themselves to post online, everything is over the top – especially the eyebrows. “
He recently looked Fake celebrity, the HBO documentary about influencers, and found the revelation that Instagram users were using toilet seats to create the illusion of being on a plane “totally hysterical.”
Can we expect to see an airport selfie of him anytime soon? “Never!” he says. “I am very private.”
You can count on Ford to stay in style.