Tom Ford (1962). American designer, the golden boy who reinvented the Gucci brand and turned it into a phenomenon of global fashion. Born in Austin, Texas, he grew up in Santa Fé, New Mexico. He moved to New York and attended the Parsons School of Design, taking courses on design, interior decoration and, later, fashion and stylism. After studying in Paris, he returned to New York and began his collaboration with the American designer Cathy Hardwick. He then moved to Perry Ellis, where he became first assistant.
In 1990 came the big leap: he was asked to be part of the new style team at Gucci, responsible for the women’s line. Success was immediate: the historic griffe, which suffered from an image that was too tied to its past, was completely updated and won, from the very first collection, the praise of the most influential international fashion magazines. Since then, his creative talent and sensitivity have been at center stage, understanding and anticipating changes in taste with lines, materials, colors, and suggestions that quickly set trends.
In 1994, he was appointed creative director for all the Gucci lines, from clothing for men and women to accessories, objects for the home, and perfumes. He lives and works in London, Paris, Florence, and Milan, and is today the leader of a team of designers from all over the world.
Time magazine calls Tom Ford the best American designer. In an interview, Tom says: “Fashion isn’t limited by clothes. Fashion is everything. Art, music, design, graphics, make-up, hairstyling, architecture, cars….”
He designs a ring in the shape of a gold band, with the Gucci logo, two Gs upside down, impressed on it. Available in three sizes, it glittered, was simple and linear, and quickly became a cult object.
The Saint-Laurent collection is inspired by a modern version of the goddess Diana, the huntress: short, straight skirts in jaguar, leopard, and panther skin, all spotted, and light Safari jackets and tight pants in leopard.
In Paris, Tom Ford returns to formality. For Gucci, an elegance inspired by the 1930s, a look at the past but revisited in an atmosphere of absolute relaxation.
Milano Moda Uomo. For the Gucci men’s collection, Tom Ford presents a very refined man, an F. Scott Fitzgerald hero. The Great Gatsby lives again, on a runway, in light-colored suits with pant cuffs 3 inches high and shirts with pointed collars. For evening, only black, Ford’s favorite color, for sophisticated velvet tuxedos and tails, worn with precious overcoats lined with mink.
After designing clothing and perfume for Saint-Laurent, he turns to watches. The collection is called Rive Gauche and has 35 models, in three sizes, for men and women.During a gala at Radio City Music Hall in New York, he receives the Vogue Fashion Award as best designer of the year.
He launches an advertising campaign for a perfume, using the image of a completely naked man with long hair wearing eyeglasses. It recalls the 1971 photo of Yves Saint-Laurent, who had himself portrayed nude for his own male perfume.
YSL, alias Tom Ford, presents his collection at the Rodin Museum in Paris. This time, he is inspired by Surrealism: a woman in tight sheath dresses, short, tiny jackets, and satin blouses. The last act of folly: nipples with make-up on them, seen through tank tops and transparent dresses. There are also mesh bathing suits and clogs with very high heels. The new jewellery collection contains fifty pieces in gold and precious stones expressly designed by Tom Ford for the opening of the Gucci boutique on via Condotti in Rome, the first one dedicated only to jewels and watches.
The new YSL collection is inspired by the one created in the 1970s by Saint-Laurent. With an eye to the 1940s, it features a provocative and sexy woman in a girdle, with mesh stockings and a lace bra visible under an extremely low-cut dress; definitely seductive in the choice of materials (lace, rustling silks, stretch velvets), and in the very tight fit, with very high-heel shoes in bright colors.News of the lack of an agreement between PPR and the Ford-De Sole team, which was responsible for the worldwide relaunch of Gucci.
The Texan designer is to stay with Gucci until April 30, 2004 and will present two collections, a men’s and a women’s. The missed renewal of the contract also means the end of the collaboration with Yves Saint-Laurent, a brand that also belongs to the group, of which the designer was creative director.
The book Tom Ford: Ten Years is published by Rizzoli International. It is the story of 10 years during which the designer conquered the fashion world in Europe and America. After one year of “rest” and thousands of rumors about possible coups de theatre in the star system, an agreement is announced with the cosmetics giant Estée Lauder. The designer is to be in charge of a sort of restyling, focusing on a softer sensuality, different from the strong tones of his time at Gucci and Saint-Laurent. The products of the designer’s work will have the label Tom Ford for Estée Lauder.
An agreement is announced with Marcolin for the creation of an eyewear line under the brand Tom Ford. It will be Accessories, then, and not clothing, as a way to return to the world of prêt-à-porter. The official launch is expected during Silmo in October 2005.