With Toronto hosting World Pride this year, I feel that much more inspired to celebrate the powerful gay icons that have shaped our world. I spotlighted Freddie Mercury in 2012, Liberace in 2013, and for 2014, the focus is on the clothing, detail, luxury, and the daring of Tom Ford.
Tom Ford is a man who personifies BOLD not only in his clothing designs but in his business dealings. Before launching his own menswear label in 2007, he spent ten years as Creative Director for Gucci and brought them from near bankruptcy to $3 billion a year in sales. He is aligned with Estee Lauder for the Tom Ford Beauty Brand, and he counts 98 retail Tom Ford stores in the world among many other achievements.
American Vogue‘s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, says Ford has an uncanny way of conveying the same three core themes: sex, power, and divine decadence. “I don’t think I have ever worked with anyone with a greater passion for detail or a clearer vision of his aesthetic goals,” she says.
Ford is a powerhouse of talent that goes beyond fashion design. In 2009, he directed and co-wrote the screenplay for A Single Man, a tale of gay angst in the early 1960s, starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore. I recommend it; it’s tasteful and interesting, but tragic. Ford’s debut film won many awards and Firth received an Oscar nomination for best actor.
He is incredibly talented and successful; a billionaire with enormous power in the fashion industry, and audacious as all hell. Tom Ford does what he wants and he does it well, otherwise he wouldn’t carry clients like Johnny Depp and Daniel Craig. Yet with all that going for him, with all the success and power and wealth, Tom Ford remains human.
Images of beauty
Ford studied architecture before he turned to fashion and understands how to build things. He uses geometry in his designs and creates sensuous lines and angles in magnificent, often textured, deeply coloured fabrics in his menswear collections.
He seems to have an inborn sense of balance and opulence and learned about fashion through his mother and grandmother. “My mother was very chic, very classic,” he recalls in an interview with Biography. “My paternal grandmother was very stylish in a very Texas way—everything big and flashy, from jewelry to cars.”
“The images of beauty you get in your childhood stick with you for life,” Ford explains, “So there’s a certain flashiness at Gucci—Texas-inspired—with a certain Western feel.”
When asked if Texas has influenced his designs, Ford tells FDLuxe, “I have certain notions of glamour that I never lost… I like a heel on a boot. I feel better with a heel. That Texas taste—big hair and a lot of makeup—was my first notion of beauty. And I have to say, to this day, I still have a thing for big hair.”
The big, bold, and flashy was woven into Ford’s designs for Gucci and used in his own menswear line. The casual luxury of his Western-inspired spring/summer 2015 collection is comprised of suede jackets with tasselled sleeves, jeans, denim shirts, and jean jackets–a far cry from his iconic suits and shirts, dapper enough for 007 himself.
“What we wanted to do was to expand sportswear so that our customer has something to wear for every occasion of his life,” he says of the collection.
Ford uses bold and unexpected colour in his menswear collections, and in his current men’s line, pink, lilac, and ocean blue jackets are paired with white shirts and trousers. Coming up for fall/winter 2014, blacks, greys, creams, and earthy colours mixed in with beautiful violets and royal blues in cotton-silk Jacquard and velvet cocktail jackets.
Tom Ford the human
Despite what we might think a billionaire designer who caters to high-end clients like Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Drake might be like, Tom Ford is a regular person.
I spoke to former model, Patrick Marano, now husband and manager to gay media mogul, Shaun Proulx, who posed for a 2005 Tom Ford sunglasses campaign.
“The shoot was in L.A. Poolside,” Marano recalls, “At the break Tom came and ate with us. He was very down-to-earth and friendly. And of course he looked great, impeccably dressed.”
Ford is a real person; he’s sensitive and romantic, and he loves to be in love and be in a relationship:”I’m someone who likes being part of a couple and always wanted that and always sought that,” he says, “And it would probably be true for me whether I was gay or straight.”
When Ford saw his long-term partner, Richard Buckley, the former Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Hommes International, at a fashion show in 1986, it was love at first sight. More than twenty-five years along, Ford and Buckley married this past spring and welcomed their son, Alexander John Buckley Ford (Jack), into the world in 2012. Ford has proved to be a devoted partner and father.
“I feed Jack, I dress him, I change his diaper, and I have a good two or three hours with him every morning, just me and him.” Ford says, “At night, again, I put him to bed and try to spend as much time with him as possible.”
Though it may be unbelievable, our superstar designer changes diapers, cooks, and unless he’s travelling, gets home each night to feed Jack. Now that he’s raising a child, his perspective of the world has changed. In particular, he no longer receives Botox injections, saying, “A lot of things I cared about before I don’t care as much about anymore.”
It’s refreshing that a superstar like Tom Ford understands his limited relevance and shelf-life. “No matter how hard you try there is a cultural moment, but eventually that window’s gone, your time on Earth is finished, and you might as well leave,” he says, “I could absolutely die tomorrow–I would not care. I feel like I’ve lived, I feel like I’ve had a great life.”
Tom Ford‘s style advice:
- A man should never wear shorts in the city. Flip-flops and shorts in the city are never appropriate. Shorts should only be worn on the tennis court or on the beach.
- At home, off-duty, I wear T-shirts from Fruit of the Loom but I have them tailored – if the sleeves are cut over the tricep your arms look much better.
- Keep your jacket buttoned. Always. It’s just really flattering – it will take pounds off you.