Tom Ford was born August 27, 1961 in Austin, Texas, to realtors Tom Ford and Shirley Burton. He spent his early life in the suburbs of Houston, Texas, and in San Marcos, outside Austin; his family moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, when he was 11. In Santa Fe, he entered St. Michael's High School and later moved to Santa Fe Preparatory School, from which he graduated in 1979. Ford left Santa Fe at age 16, when he enrolled at Bard College at Simon's Rock, but quickly dropped out. He then moved to New York City to study art history at New York University.
Ford dropped out of NYU after only a year, preferring to concentrate on acting in television commercials; at one time, he was in 12 national advertising campaigns simultaneously. Ford then began studying interior architecture at The New School's famous art and design college, Parsons The New School for Design. During his time in New York, Ford became a fixture at the legendary nightclub Studio 54, where he realized he was gay. The club's disco-era glamor would be a major influence on his later designs. Before his last year at New School, Ford spent a year and a half in Paris, where he worked as an intern in Chloé's press office. Though his work primarily involved sending clothes out on photo shoots, it triggered his love of fashion. He spent his final year at The New School studying fashion, but nonetheless graduated with a degree in architecture.
Tom Ford and his partner, journalist Richard Buckley, have been together since 1986. Buckley was the former Editor in Chief of Vogue Hommes International. "Richard and I are bound together, and I think that's what that recognition is when you look someone in the eyes and you feel like you've known them forever. It is a kind of coming home." The fashion designer and the magazine editor's baby boy, Alexander John Buckley Ford, was born in Los Angeles on 23 September 2012.
When interviewing for jobs after graduation, he said that he had attended The New School's Parsons division, but concealed that he graduated in architecture and that his work at Chloe was a low-level public relations position. Despite his lack of experience, Ford called American designer Cathy Hardwick every day for a month in hopes of securing a job at her mid-price sportswear company. Eventually, she agreed to see him. Hardwick later recalled the incident: "I had every intention of giving him no hope. I asked him who his favorite European designers were. He said, 'Armani and Chanel.' Months later I asked him why he said that, and he said, 'Because you were wearing something Armani'. Is it any wonder he got the job?" Ford worked as a design assistant for Hardwick for two years.
In 1988, Ford moved to Perry Ellis, where he knew both Robert McDonald, the company's president, and Marc Jacobs, its designer, socially. He stayed at the company for two years, but grew tired of working in American fashion. In a later interview with the New York Times, he commented, "If I was ever going to become a good designer, I had to leave America. My own culture was inhibiting me. Too much style in America is tacky. It's looked down upon to be too stylish. Europeans, however, appreciate style." Ford would soon have the opportunity to enter the world of European fashion: Gucci, a faltering luxury goods company, was seeking to strengthen its women's ready-to-wear presence as a part of its brand overhaul. At the time, "no one would dream of wearing Gucci," said Dawn Mello, then the company's creative director. Mello hired Ford—then a near-unknown—as the brand's chief women's ready-to-wear designer in 1990. "I was talking to a lot of people, and most didn't want the job," Mello said. "For an American designer to move to Italy to join a company that was far from being a brand would have been pretty risky." Ford and his longtime partner, fashion journalist Richard Buckley, relocated to Milan that September.
Ford's role at Gucci rapidly expanded: he was designing menswear within six months, and shoes soon after that. When Richard Lambertson left as design director in 1992, Ford took over his position, heading the brand's ready-to-wear, fragrances, image, advertising, and store design. In 1993, when he was in charge of designing eleven product lines, Ford worked eighteen-hour days. During these years, there were creative tensions between Ford and Maurizio Gucci, the company's chairman and 50% owner. According to Mello, "Maurizio always wanted everything to be round and brown, and Tom wanted to make it square and black." Though Maurizio Gucci wanted to fire Ford, Domenico de Sole insisted that he remain. Nonetheless, Ford's work during the early 1990s was primarily behind the scenes; his contributions to Gucci were overshadowed by those of Mello, who was the company's public face.
In 1994, Ford was promoted to creative director. In his first year at the helm, he was credited with putting the glamour back into fashion introducing Halston-style velvet hipsters, skinny satin shirts and car-finish metallic patent boots. In 1995, he brought in French stylist Carine Roitfeld and photographer Mario Testino to create a series of new, modern ad campaigns for the company. Between 1995 and 1996, sales at Gucci increased by 90%. On the strength of Ford's collections, Gucci went public in October 1995 with an IPO of $22 per share, followed by an additional global offering in March 1996 at $48 per share and a third offering in 1999 at $75 per share. In early 1999, luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, headed by Bernard Arnault, increased its shareholdings in Gucci with a view to takeover. Domenico de Sole reacted by issuing new shares of stock in an effort to dilute the value of Arnault's holdings. Ford and De Sole also approached French holding company Pinault-Printemps-Redoute (PPR) about the possibility of forming a strategic alliance. François Pinault, the company’s founder, agreed to the idea and purchased 37 million shares in the company, or a 40% stake. Arnault’s share was diluted to 20%. At one point, Ford was the largest individual shareholder of Gucci stock and options.
By 1999, the house, which had been almost bankrupt when Ford joined, was valued at about $4.3 billion. When Ford left in 2004, Gucci Group was valued at $10 billion.
When Gucci acquired the house of Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), Ford was named the creative director of that label as well. During his time as Creative Director for YSL, Ford won numerous Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards. Like his work at Gucci, Ford was able to catapult the classic fashion house back into the mainstream. His advertising campaigns for the YSL fragrances Opium (with a red-haired Sophie Dahl completely naked wearing only a necklace and stiletto heels in a sexually suggestive pose) and YSL M7 (with martial arts champion Samuel de Cubber in complete full-frontal nudity) have been famous and provocative by pushing fragrance ads to a new level of creativity in artistic expression and commercial impact.
In April 2004, Ford parted ways with the Gucci group after he and CEO Domenico de Sole, who is credited as Ford's partner in Gucci's success, failed to agree with PPR bosses over artistic control of the Group.
In March 2011, Ford was featured as the cover star of the bi-annual publication AnOther Man, the fraternal counterpart to Another Magazine, giving his opinion on what makes the modern day gentleman. He was interviewed by the magazine's founder Jefferson Hack for the featured article.
In March 2005, Ford announced the opening of his film production company, FADE TO BLACK. In 2009, Ford made his film directorial debut with A Single Man, which was based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood. The film stars Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult and Matthew Goode. The screenplay was adapted by Ford and David Scearce. Ford also produced the film, which premiered on September 11, 2009 at the 66th Venice International Film Festival and was nominated for a Golden Lion. Colin Firth, who plays the protagonist George, was awarded the Volpi Cup as Best Actor for his performance and was also nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe, Independent Spirit Award and Screen Actors Guild Award. He won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Julianne Moore was nominated for Best Supporting Actress and Abel Korzeniowski for Best Original Score at the Golden Globes. Tom Ford was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards in 2009 including Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay.
Tom Ford was a shy 25-year-old when he met magazine editor Richard Buckley. It took him the length of an elevator ride to decide he wanted to marry him. Buckley was the former Editor in Chief of Vogue Hommes International. Buckley was diagnosed with cancer in 1989 and after his recovery the two moved from New York to Italy.
"Richard and I are bound together, and I think that's what that recognition is when you look someone in the eyes and you feel like you've known them forever. It is a kind of coming home." --Tom Ford
"I couldn't imagine being without Tom now. I couldn't imagine what I'd be like if something happened to him. There's only one Tom for me. He is still that man who I met 24 years ago, who has a good heart." --Richard Buckley
The couple has owned three smooth fox terriers. Their first dog, named John, lived 14 years with Ford and Buckley, and appeared on the runway and in some photos with Ford. Currently, they own Angus and India, who are six and four years old, respectively. These smooth fox terriers appeared in Ford's movie A Single Man.
Ford himself is not shy to appear naked in some of his commercials.
1996/1997, Tom Ford, Evening Ensemble, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1996/1997, Tom Ford, Evening Ensemble, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1996/1997, Tom Ford, Evening Ensemble, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1996/1997, Tom Ford, Suit, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1999, Tom Ford, Evening Ensemble, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
2002, Tom Ford, Dress, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
2002, Tom Ford, Caftan, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
2003, Tom Ford, Dress, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Current notions of classical dress are based on the original variations and manipulations of antique models, the twentieth-century adaptation of ancient methods to modern forms, and, in this example, the mythic iconography that accrued to the original styles over time by artistic convention. The body-exposing drape of Tom Ford's gown is easily associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.
2003, Tom Ford, Ensemble, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
2004, Tom Ford, Dinner Suit Ensemble, Victoria & Albert Museum
This blue silk velvet man's suit, with its accompanying accessories, comes from Tom Ford's autumn/winter 2004-5 collection for Gucci, his last for the company. Tom Ford served as the head designer for Gucci from 1990 to 2004 and was instrumental in bringing a commercial sexiness to its fashions for men and women. As seen here, Ford’s 2004-5 collection updated the traditional dinner suit with a form-fitting silhouette, jewel-toned velvet and slight ruffles at the cuffs and down the shirt front.
Fashion journalist Guy Trebay noted in the New York Times that in the past Ford mined diverse masculine stereotypes, from 1970s gigolos to Rat Pack smoothies and moustachioed porn stars. ('Review/Fashion: Selling Not Just a Man, But a Gucci Man, New York Times, 15 January, 2004). In this final collection, Ford presented an image of masculinity that amalgamated these types: models walked down the catwalk holding a glass of whiskey and a cigarette in one hand, what Trebay described as 'a stylised version of the Hugh Hefner hedonist: louche, debonair, cigarette smoking and with a tumbler of Johnny Walker Black Label, literally, at hand.'
Exhibition History: Permanent display of Fashion Galleries (G40) (V&A 01/02/2005-28/02/2005)
2004/2005, Tom Ford, Dress, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Bespoke: The Men's Style of Savile Row by James Sherwood
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Rizzoli (October 26, 2010)
Amazon: Bespoke: The Men's Style of Savile Row
A fully illustrated history of bespoke tailoring—the custom-made men’s clothing that made a small London street a globally known brand to generations of sartorial connoisseurs. Savile Row is renowned for fine custom tailoring—"bespoke" in its own parlance. The term originated when cloth for a suit was said to "be spoken for" by customers who have included generations of stylish and tasteful men, from rakes to royals. Bespoke is the epitome of male sartorial style, exquisite quality, and craftsmanship, and has been worn by a veritable who’s who of famous and important men: Winston Churchill, Cary Grant, Russell Crowe, David Beckham, and countless world leaders. Bespoke charts Savile Row’s contribution to fashion and culture chronologically and features twenty-six profiles of today’s master tailors from historic firms such as Gieves & Hawkes and Henry Poole to more recent ones like Nutters and Ozwald Boateng, who was the first Savile Row tailor to stage a catwalk show in Paris.
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Rizzoli; First Edition edition (November 4, 2008)
Amazon: Tom Ford
Tom Ford has become one of fashion's great icons. In the past decade, he transformed Gucci from a moribund accessories label into one of the sexiest fashion brands in the world. His designs have increased sales at Gucci tenfold and have helped build the Gucci brand into the luxury goods conglomerate that it is today. Ford brought a hard-edged style synonymous with 21st century glamour to his clothes, and Hollywood sat up and took note.
This book is a complete catalogue of Ford's design work for both Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent from 1994 to 2004. It chronicles not only Ford's clothing and accessories designs for both houses, but also explores Ford's grand vision for the complete design of a brand, including architecture, store design, and advertising.
Tom Ford features more than 200 photographs by Richard Avedon, Mario Testino, Steven Meisel, Helmut Newton, Herb Ritts, Terry Richardson, Craig McDean, Todd Eberle, and numerous other photographers including many previously unpublished images.
Published to coincide with his departure from Gucci, this book has been created with Ford's full cooperation and every page reflects his exceptional taste. It is Ford's testament to a career of singular moments reinventing the boundaries of style and sensuality in clothing.
More Fashion Designers at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Art
More Real Life Romances at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance
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