The Fantastic Mr. Ford
Some says that he had five baths a day. “Is that a myth?” he was asked. “If I’m sending emails and I get all wound up and stressed and don’t know what to do with myself for 20 minutes, I just go soak in hot water and lie there, thinking, ‘What should I do?’” explained Ford. “So it’s meditative.” When he first met Gwyneth Paltrow, he did, indeed, ask to father her children. There are lots of strange stories about Ford, the 52-year-old fashion designer and film-maker, and the funny thing is that they are almost all true.
As a student, Ford dabbled in architecture, acting and fashion – and spent his evenings in Studio 54 in the early 1980s – before starting to work with American designers. During this time, he met his partner, style journalist Richard Buckley, 13 years his senior, and they are still together more than a quarter of a century later and recently have a son.
In 1990, aged 29, Ford got his break, when he was asked to become the chief women’s designer at Gucci. The Italian label was in a deep rut, close to bankruptcy; it was known for outmoded leather goods and turned over around £150m a year. When Ford left, in 2004, it was a powerhouse worth £2bn or more. He curated “the first real high-end global fashion brand”, according to the New York Times.
But Ford’s ascent stalled when he parted ways with Gucci. It was a difficult break-up, personally as well as professionally. “By the end of Gucci, I was drinking too much, I had no life, I wasn’t very nice,” he later said. He launched Tom Ford in 2005, but eased himself back in with fragrances and menswear before returning with a women’s collection in 2010.
Tom Ford is still one of the few who really push fashion forward. He proves himself by Gucci and he’s still proving it to us today. Tom Ford is pushing boundaries and breaking the rules. He is a provocative men making some of the most provocating designs and images, to provoke fashion forward.
Anna Wintour summaries it all at best by saying, “I don’t think I have ever worked with anyone with a greater passion for detail or a clearer vision of his aesthetic goals. As somebody disposed to my own brand of perfectionism, it was an unfamiliar experience to be outdone by a man whose persistence and exactitude put my own to shame. Tom Ford, I realised, was the Flaubert of fashion.”
Happy birthday, fantastic Mr. Ford.
(Illustration by Joana Avillez)