TOM FORD: THE PERFECT TEN

FROM THE VAULT (SUMMER 2010)

BORN: August 27, 1961; Austin, Texas

NATIONALITY: American

LABELS: Tom Ford

MISC: Graduated from the New School with a degree in architecture. In 1988 he moved to Italy to become designer for Gucci. In 1993 he was in charge of designing 11 product lines, and in 1994 he was promoted to creative director. In 1999, he was also named creative director for Yves Saint Laurent. In April 2004, Ford parted ways with the Gucci group and in 2005 he created his own brand.

Tom Ford is fashion’s true superman. He knows it and so do we. At this point, in the wake of the success of his first feature film, A Single Man, there seems little he can’t take on and make his own. Next president of the United States? Why not? Ford would be the first politician since Disraeli’s day to be perfectly dressed in all circumstances. And wouldn’t that be refreshing? Of course, we all know that Ford totally defined fashion as slick, high-octane and super-sexy in his glory days at Gucci, but I think his permanent claim to fame will be how successfully he entirely changed the way men see themselves and how they wish to dress, for formal as well as informal occasions. Politicians wearing no ties in public? Unheard of once, now a cliché of public life – it came from Ford. Women in slinky dresses and very high heels, once condemned as vulgar exhibitionism, now a fashion cliché? Came from Ford.

So what is at the root of Ford’s trailblazing approach to everything he does? Sex. He has told me many times how important it is to accept and glory in the fact that we are, above all else, sexual beings and he has, through his clothes, given us the power to do so. But it is his advertisements that have perhaps had the most profound effect on us all, if for no other reason that photographers, stylists and editors have capitalised on Ford’s courage through endless copies of his pioneering campaigns. Nevertheless, despite all the blatant plagiarism, the glory remains Ford’s alone. He has literally changed our perception of what men and women can and should be in our time. What better accolade could a designer have..?

The Ford woman is strong, fit and beautiful. An adventuress, she is the equal of any man and draws strength from Ford’s clothes because they totally empower her. 

WHAT WERE YOU DOING 10 YEARS AGO?

“Working hard. Just as I am now.” 

HOW HAS YOUR APPROACH TO FASHION CHANGED OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS?

“I only make things that I love now.” 
 

IN WHAT WAYS ARE PERSONAL APPEARANCE AND LIFESTYLE IMPORTANT TO YOU? “Lifestyle is MUCH more important than appearance. If one is happy, one actually looks better anyway.”

TEN IS CONSIDERED A TALISMANIC NUMBER. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?

“Not much. One more than 9 and one less than 11.” 

FASHION IS CHANGING RAPIDLY. HOW WILL IT AFFECT YOU IN HOW YOU PRESENT YOUR CLOTHES IN ORDER TO REACH THE MAXIMUM AUDIENCE – AND HOW WILL THAT AUDIENCE DIFFER FROM THE TRADITIONAL AUDIENCE?

“I don’t really worry about things like this. I believe that if one makes beautiful things with intrinsic value that there always is an audience for them.”
 

WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG – SAY, 10 OR A TEENAGER – WHAT WERE YOUR AMBITIONS? “To be exactly where I am today.” 
 

OUTSIDE OF FASHION, WHAT ARE THE THINGS THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY OR SAD?

“Life and beauty make me both happy and sad. The two emotions are intrinsically linked for me. When I see something beautiful I am extremely happy and yet I am also aware that ‘it too will pass’ and that everything is transient, which of course makes that very same beauty seem sad.”

WHAT ARE THE TRUE INSPIRATIONS FOR YOU – IN YOUR LIFE AND IN YOUR DESIGNING?

“My inspirations for me are and always have been my friends and family. I must say that my bathtub is also a great inspiration for me, as I spend about an hour a day – I take three baths per day – just lying in hot water, thinking and resolving things in my head. It is my form of meditation and I solve many problems through clearing my head this way.”

IF YOU COULD SPEND 10 DAYS TOTALLY AWAY FROM FASHION AND YOUR PRESENT LIFE HOW WOULD YOU SPEND THEM?

“I often spend 10 days totally away from fashion. It is imperative for me. The way I would spend them at this point in my life would be behind a camera, shooting a film.”

IN 10 YEARS’ TIME WHAT SORT OF LIFE DO YOU EXPECT TO BE LIVING?

“The same life that I live now. I am lucky. I love everything about my life, I just hope that I get to have another 30 or 40 years of it.”

www.tomford.com

by Colin McDowell

Photograph by Jeff Burtonwww.jeffburtonstudio.com