Thursday 17th September

| BY Claudia Croft

Tom Ford: Ready-to-Wear SS21

“Hopeful clothes that make you smile.” That’s how Tom Ford summed up his eye-popper of a SS21 collection. The designer admitted that his first reaction to the pandemic, lockdown and a summer of social unrest was to design nothing at all. In extensive collection notes, he admitted, “Fashion itself seemed like an extravagance.” Describing a psychological and financial depression descending, he added, “I honestly felt that fashion should go into hibernation for a year.” What snapped him out of it was a documentary about the influential 1970s illustrator Antonio Lopez who found fashion fame in the carfree era that flourished between the introduction of The Pill and the Aids epidemic.

Ford was most inspired by the smiles of the models and the effervescent energy of Pat Cleveland and Donna Jordan. Their carefree exuberance set the emotional tone for a collection that, he says, looks forward to an optimistic spring. The Ford customer is comfortable being the centre of attention but what does that mean in 2020, when parties, paparazzi and red carpets are in short supply?

The designer acknowledged that the pandemic has changed our fashion priorities and our tastes. As he says, who is going to home school their kids in a pair of jewelled platforms? Zoom calls, working from home and a limited social life: these are the realities of 2020  – even for Ford’s high-flying clientele. His response? Extrovert casuals that offer a joyful pop of instant, easy, pull-on chic. His key piece for both men and women were ultra-lux, silk joggers which came in vivid jewel shades or fantastic floral prints. And in a true sign of the times, the designer’s name was emblazoned on their elasticated (yes!) waistbands.

His solution for eveningwear was even easier: a beaded, fringed or vividly printed kaftan is all you will need. And a vibrant lipstick smile (a brightly made-up face he says is “an expression of joy and happiness and an extravagance that’s not really extravagant at all”). When most people dress down, they disappear. But Ford is offering a feel-good alternative. In his hands, you dress down to be noticed.

Photographs courtesy of Tom Ford.