Tuesday, 6 December 2011

TOM FORD - The Modern Master Of Luxury


TOM FORD Spring/Summer 2012 Collection 

This September, in the darkened, windowless surroundings of his London headquarters, the designer Tom Ford showed his spring 2012 collection to a small gathering of press and buyers. It was one of the most gossiped-about presentations of the season: an event held in semi-private, with no photographers, as per Mr. Ford’s decree, so that the clothes would only be seen close to the date they’re available in stores. Since returning to womenswear design with a clean slate in September 2010, Mr. Ford has set out on a new way of doing things, starting with a ban on instant exposure to his shows: no tweeting, no cell-phone pictures, and definitely no overnight runway reviews. That way, he’s calculated, nobody will have the chance to be bored by the sight of them before they can even buy them.

My focus is really old-fashioned,” Ford declares. “I want to do classic clothes. I don’t want to do trendy collections that swing around from season to season. I want to do things that will stay in a woman’s wardrobe a long time—quite ‘forever’ pieces. So I’m looking for consistency.” But what, exactly, is a Tom Ford classic?  Something sexy, naturally. “Blouses with a loose, slouchy quality; something fitted at the waist, and with a bondage-y thing on the foot—my favorite is the wedge with the chain-strap!” he says, mulling over his oeuvre. “I’ve streamlined things more this season. I think I’m very classic, because what I do is always based on something you’ve seen before. And yes, maybe there’s something YSL about it. When I left off designing for women, I was at YSL so I’m working through that to be me, asking myself, What do I like? What defines your brand?”

In this collection, the personal Ford-ian touches are in the telling. The story behind the fringing, the Spanish-influenced leather-embroidered peasant blouses, and some of the gold-plated sterling silver jewelry comes from the life he and his partner, Richard Buckley, live in New Mexico (where they have a ranch) part of the year. “We always go to three amazing Western shows in Santa Fe. Richard bought me a piece of barbed wire from the 1870s, which is where the idea for the twisted cuff originated. But then,” he said, laughing, “ you have to be careful with inspiration. There’s fringe, but I didn’t want to end up with a Pocahontas collection.” 

Far more pertinently, Mr. Ford says, the shape of spring is influenced by women’s reactions to his first two collections in stores: “It seems people came looking for what they used to find from me the ruched dresses, the shaggy fur jackets.” There are plenty of the glamorous dresses, a lovely velvet devoré polka-dot silk stands out, as well as put-together separates like the frothy off-the-shoulder eyelet blouse and flounced skirt Ford calls “milkmaid deluxe.” The distinction, though, between what Ford did back in the Gucci days and what he does now is the extent of the “worked” surfaces. These, after all, are clothes at the ultra-deluxe level, so when Ford does a pencil skirt, it will be in super-fitted, patch-worked python, constructed from zigzagging woven raffia, or pieced from horizontally placed hand-lacquered ribbon sewn onto net in graduating stages of opacity from waist to hem. There are pants looks, too; a favorite of Ford’s such a signature that he’s shot it for his advertising campaign is a cobalt-violet jacket and form-molding skinny pant: “They’re in double-stretch satin, so they hold you like Spanx!” 

Still, most revealing in this exclusive, first close-up look at Tom Ford’s new collection is the detail lost to the original viewers who saw the clothes momentarily swish by in the runway presentation. There are all the desire-stoking box minaudières (one, in marbled pink, white, and black Bakelite, is weirdly appealing in an offbeat way), the sculptural wedges, the variety of cuffs. And, quite mesmerizingly, there’s the level of craftsmanship which has gone into the intricacies of minute feather embroidery on delicate open-work woven net on an ivory dress—really, that kind of luxe workmanship can only be properly marveled at when someone takes the time to explain it. Which is exactly what Mr. Ford has resolved to do when he invites his audience to his London showroom next February. There won’t be models walking up and down his carpet for fall; instead, he’ll be putting on “ten small, personal presentations” in which he will talk through each look himself as each model stands beside him, one by one.

Actually, that’s reverting to the way he did things last season—an intimate way of carrying on which worked better than his spring show. The truth is that everyone appreciates a bit of Tom Ford—whether it’s buying nail polish from him at Bergdorf Goodman (the shade Bitter Bitch, the brown-black on some of the girls in these pictures is, he says, already a sell-out)—or listening to his entertaining descriptions of what goes into his clothes. The grand showmanship of the nineties and noughties—his signature at Gucci and YSL—is, then, replaced by something new: the luxury of up-close contact. It’s still showmanship, of course, but  a more special, individual kind. “I think even if I had a million dollars to spend on a show, I’d still be doing this,” he says. But what of that other, multimillion-dollar, larger-than-life branch of Fordian entertainment—his movie plans? “Well, moviemaking has gone away in favor of bag-making,” he said, and laughed. Just for the moment, anyway.

Photography by Tom Ford

Tom Ford - A man whose name is synonymous with contemporary design and provocative imagery, Tom Ford is a traditionalist at heart. Though his fashion and beauty sense has a powerful influence on the mood of the moment, his influences are always rooted in the values of the past. As Ford says, "I'm not seduced by the "new" or the "now". I'm seduced by style, luxury, exclusivity, and glamour, qualities that are hard to find in our disposable society. Taking classic elements and reinventing them for a sophisticated customer is my idea of modern."

Born in Austin, Texas and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Ford's design philosophy was shaped at an early age by the women he saw around him, including a grandmother who was the very definition of "style". During his teens, Ford moved to New York City, where he initially studied art history and architecture, two disciplines that became foundational to his point of view as a fashion designer.

Ford's breakout role in the fashion world began in 1990, when the iconic Italian fashion house, Gucci, named him Women's Wear Designer. His work there reinvented Gucci for a new era and by 1994, as Creative Director, he was responsible for the design of everything from fashion to fragrance, advertising, and store design. During the 10 years that followed, Gucci became one of the largest and most profitable luxury brands in the world. In 2004, Tom Ford left Gucci Group to form his own company and create the TOM FORD brand. A beauty and eyewear collection debuted first in 2005, and his first flagship store, devoted to luxury menswear, opened to critical acclaim in New York City two years later. A strategic and selective global expansion of the TOM FORD brand is in place to create more than 100 freestanding TOM FORD retail stores worldwide over the next 10 years.

Throughout his career, Ford has been fascinated by fragrance. Having honed his skill launching successful fragrances for both Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent earlier in his career, Ford now creates scents that are uncompromising expressions of his own unique vision. His first women's fragrance, Tom Ford Black Orchid, debuted in 2006 and made waves in the beauty world for its boldness and depth. One year later, he launched his first men's fragrance, TOM FORD FOR MEN, and most recently he has launched TOM FORD GREY VETIVER, a masterful new rendition of the cool and intriguing possibilities of vetiver.

Ford created TOM FORD BEAUTY to be the first true luxury beauty brand of the 21st century, a very personal proposition that delivers the authenticity, artistry, and distinctive point of view that is missing in today's mega brands. "My mission is to bring luxury back, expressed through my voice and my style," Ford said. "It is important to me to instill glamour, integrity, and sophistication in everything I do."

Selections by ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories

 Photo Credit/Source: © VOGUE / ©Harrods

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1 comment:

Shagun said...

An insightful editorial, Andrea. Tom Ford is class apart, as is visible through his designs, personality & showmanship. I love the sublime sophistication of his creations. The red polka dot dress(with a bow tie red belt) & purple off shoulder, lacy dress are my fave. Simply chic couture...Regards, Shagun

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