“Dressing well is a form of good manners”
When speaking of a revolutionary figure in the world of fashion, you refer to someone who, thanks to his/hers creativity and sense of style, is able to influence an entire industry, in such a deep way that is also able to affect the way of wearing and behaving of common people, who wear a suit every day to the office. Without any doubt, Thomas Carlyle Ford, better know as Tom Ford, is part of this small category of designers, thanks to his work of the last thirty years. Born in Austin, Texas, in 1961, the son of two real estate realtors, Thomas David Ford and Shirley Burton, he is for many a real guru, owner of the well know brand that has its own name, but who entered the Olympus after having led the Gucci brand from bankruptcy to a multi billion evaluation in the early 1990’s.
Since his early childhood, he develops a strong feeling for beauty and care of details, often suggesting to his mother which shoes to wear or which hairstyle was better for her; he later described his research for perfection as a real disease.
Aged 17 he moves to New York to pursuit his dream of becoming an actor, but in the meantime he also studies History of Arts at the New York University for a short period. Put aside the dreams about acting, Ford enrolls at Parsons School of Design, but after a while he realizes that Architecture is too serious for him, yet he discovers a strong passion about the style details to add to the figurines that had to embellish his art projects. In those years, his assiduous attendance to the legendary Studio 54, allows him to meet some of the most prominent personalities of the Pop culture, such as Andy Warhol.
A year before graduating, Ford moves to Paris and starts to feel the working atmosphere related to the world of fashion thanks to a stage at the press office of the French brand Chloè. In 1986, he graduates in Architecture but his primary intent is to find a job in the world of fashion. The first employment is for the New York designer Cathy Hardwick, where he learns the basis of pattern making. In 1988 he moves to Perry Ellis as creative director, under the oversight of a quite relevant figure: Marc Jacobs.
After only two years, Ford decides to move to Europe, where his career arrives at an important turning point in 1990, when he starts working for the Italian fashion house GUCCI as responsible of ready-to-wear womenswear, supervised by the creative director of the time Dawn Mello. In 1992 he begins to climb positions inside the company becoming main director of mens’ design and perfumes, reaching a top point in 1993 when he was designing eleven product lines. Despite the indisputable quality of his work, Ford had to confront himself many times with president Maurizio Gucci, who had different opinions regarding the style to be followed, nevertheless, thanks to the intervention of the then CEO Domenico De Sole, Ford reaches his most important moment of his career in 1994, when he becomes Creative Director of the brand, with high responsibilities also concerning the brand image, declaring its definitive change: thanks to him, the Masters Mario Testino, Terry Richardson and others photographed the most memorable campaigns of the brand.
In 2004, after 15 years of honorable career and a brand revolution, Tom Ford and his friend Domenico De Sole reluctantly decide to leave Gucci after some disagreements with the brand owners.
Knowing better than anyone else the abilities of the stylist, De Sole encourages Ford to establish his own brand, leading to the launch of “TOM FORD” in 2006.
The brand, focused on the production of a formal menswear line, completed by accessories such as sunglasses and beauty products, registers an immediate success and shortly completes itself with the realization of a womenswear collection. Starting from 2008 he designs James Bond’s wardrobe, played by Daniel Craig in the movies “Quantum of Solace”, “Skyfall” and “Spectre”, joining his love for fashion to the one for cinema. The love for the seventh art, brings him in 2009 to successfully direct his first movie “A Single Man”, based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood, followed in 2016 by the psychological thriller “Nocturnal Animals”, his first work as writer and co-producer.
Many are the celebrities who relied on him to be impeccable on red carpets all over the world, among them Ryan Gosling, Julienne Moore, Anne Hathaway, Colin Firth, Johnny Depp and many others, including the ex First Lady Michelle Obama.
In September 2016, Ford has again left a mark on the world of contemporary fashion, by joining the “see now, buy now” project, presenting in New York a menswear collection for fall/winter that could be bought the day after the presentation, contrary to the classical dynamics where collections are introduced a year before their availability into stores.
About elegance, Ford once said: «I don’t believe in playing around much with suit cuts. I like a fairly classic shape that gives a man strong shoulders, a fitted waist, and long legs. Classic simplicity always works». «I hate the trend of short suit jackets. When a man’s butt is showing below the bottom of his jacket, I think it makes him look like a female flight attendant from the back—not my idea of sexy».
Since the beginning, the direction towards Ford wanted to go was the one regarding a masculine man, determined, a man to be admired. The perception of the Tom Ford man is exactly that of remarkable perfection in proportions and colors.
To distinguish the suits designed by him are the fabrics with classical patterns such as the Chevron and the Prince of Wales, or monochromatic in the shades of blue, gray and black, the meticulous care of details and the pronounced masculine silhouette. The shoulders are padded and serve as a frame to the wide peak lapels; buttonholes on the lapels are in milanese style, while on the sleeves we find five buttonholes with the closest to sleeve end left longer on purpose.
These are the foundation points that reflect the personal conception of elegance expressed by the visionary American stylist, for whom dressing well is nothing but a form of well manners, that allows to a gentleman to introduce to others his best version of himself.
Frank Gallucci & Francesco Tarabuzzi