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July 17, 2015 |  Date Modified: July 17, 2015 |  1251 Views
The Man. The Icon. The Fashion. TOM FORD
Gorgeous, Talented and Lucky!


ROB BRINKLEY: You were born and raised in Austin — well, raised until 11, when your family defected to Santa Fe. But the style set in Texas will always claim you as its own. Has Texas ever influenced your designs?


TOM FORD: I have certain notions of glamour that I never lost, probably because I lived in Texas as a child. 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 legendary big hair. So why Dallas for a new boutique? Why now? 

As a Texan, it is extremely meaningful for me to open a flagship store in Dallas. Texas men and women have a real taste for luxury, and expect the highest-quality products and services — the two pillars of Tom Ford.


Before you launched Tom Ford, which was 2005, your résumé was already sexy: assisting designer Cathy Hardwick — your first fashion job, for which you famously called her every day for a month until she agreed to see you — then designing jeans for Perry Ellis; then directing all of Gucci; then all of Yves Saint Laurent. And those last two you did at the same time! For you, was there one best job? 


It is funny sometimes how life turns out. When I started in fashion, I absolutely intended to have my own company. I moved to Italy and took the job with Gucci to learn and to acquaint myself with the best factories, so that I could set up my own company and design and produce my own collection in Europe. As it turned out, my role at Gucci developed in a way that I ultimately found very satisfying — and I no longer felt the need to start my own business. If you had asked me while I was at Gucci if I ever intended to start my own label, I would have said absolutely not. I have since learned to never say never.


What do you say to fashion designers just starting in the industry?


I only have one piece of advice, really, and it is the same thing people used to tell me when I said I wanted to become an actor, and it is this: If there is anything else in the world that you would rather be doing, do that. This is the harshest, most difficult industry, and you really must love what you are doing in order to thrive.


Clearly, you love it. And Dallas women do love fashion. 


I always find myself impressed by the way Texas women wear my clothes. My fall-winter 2013 collection is very bold and vibrant, and I think Texas women have the confidence you need to pull it off.


A lot of your clothes channel that particular sensuality of the 1970s. What is it about that time? It was pretty wild, pretty promiscuous. 


I grew up in the 1970s, so that aesthetic — and particularly the aesthetics of American cinema during that time — have influenced me greatly. There was this slick, minimal glamour that I find timeless.


Speaking of slick and cinema, I have watched your film A Single Man probably 20 times. The style — big surprise — is through the roof, but it is the character of George Falconer who stays with me the most. I literally feel for him. What do you take away from A Single Man when you watch it now? Do you watch it now?


I cannot watch it because it makes me sad! It was such a wonderful experience, and I long to do it again.


Tom Ford directing 'A Single Man,' 2009, his crossover from fashion to film


So, when? 


Well, my production this past year was my son, Jack — and, of course, my other production was my women’s runway collection that showed in London … but my second film will not be too far behind.


Which is harder to do: make a movie or make fashion?


They are completely different challenges. Fashion is a love of mine, but it is a commercial endeavor. A Single Man was the first thing I had ever done that was truly pure expression. I was not necessarily thinking about ‘How am I going to sell this?’ or ‘Who is going to see it?’ With fashion, I know what I want to say, and I have said it over the years — but with the film, I really had to stop and think: What do I, personally, have to say?


What is a film you’ve seen where you walked away thinking, ‘I wish I would’ve made that?’


I do not know if I have any films where I walked away wishing I had created them — but I do have several favorite films. I adore old Hollywood films likeDinner at Eight when I want to feel as though everything in the world is fine. Then I love visual films like those by Hitchcock or Kubrick. Images from their films have greatly influenced my tastes and are burned in my mind.

I am also a romantic — and beautiful, romantic things usually make me my cry. I thought that The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was one of the most beautiful films that I had seen in years.


Tom Ford, a sensitive man. That’s the last thing people — people who don’t know you, I suspect — would guess about you. Are you a worrier, too?


Oh, I worry every day. If I design a pair of shoes one afternoon, I go to bed thinking about them that night, wondering if I should change the chain or the buckle. Of course, now I worry about my son as well.


Your son Jack! Now that you’re a dad, what is the biggest change in your days — and your nights?


Well, I spend time with Jack every morning. I feed him, I dress him and I have a good two or three hours with him every morning before I go to the office. Just me and him. At night, again, I put him to bed and try to spend as much time with him as possible.


Do you eat dinner as a family most nights? Do you cook? 


I try to make it home for Jack’s feeding every night unless I am traveling. I do cook. I think that every man should be able to cook a few simple things for a quiet dinner — or breakfast.


Tom Ford, a culinary man. Speaking of change, do you change Jack’s diapers? 


Of course! All the time.


Are you more comfortable dressing up or dressing down? And what, really, is Tom Ford’s definition of dressing ‘down?’


I have a uniform that I wear every day in London: a black suit, a white shirt and a black tie. It is what I feel most comfortable in. If I am in Santa Fe, then it is jeans, a Western shirt and cowboy boots. If I am in Mustique, then I am wearing pastel trousers, a T-shirt or button-down and loafers , or I’m barefoot.


What vehicles do you have? Do you drive? 


I have a Range Rover — which I drive myself — and an Aston Martin in Los Angeles, and a Bentley in London.


Elegant vehicles, all. Which contemporary architect’s work are you most interested in? 


I have worked with Tadao Ando. He is very talented.


Which late architect’s work are you most interested in?


I am very interested in clean lines. If I had to pick any architect that has affected me in the most significant way, then it would have to be Mies van der Rohe.


Contemporary art: Whose work are you most interested in?


I suppose I like everything, but I am really interested in abstract minimalism. I love Jeff Koons and Richard Serra.


You have said that there is a public Tom Ford and a private Tom Ford. Who knows the real you?


My partner, Richard, is the one person in the world who knows me best. From our first meeting, something reached out to me through him, and our connection was instant.


When is — or was — the happiest you’ve ever been?


For me, happiness comes from working. I am always supremely happy when I am involved in the act of making something. And in general, I would say, I am the most comfortable and happiest that I have ever been in my entire life right now.


Are you ever not thinking about making something? 


I am always working, and building, and creating — all of which I love, but I am sometimes envious of people who can just sit in a cafe and seemingly do nothing for hours. I used to never switch off, but now that I have a son, I have learned to take more time away from work for my family.


The five-year plan: What will the Tom Ford brand be like then?


I want it to be one of the five largest, most developed luxury brands in the world.


Big surprise. I think you’ll do it. Will there be a children’s line? Tom Ford Jr.? 


For now, I am focused on building and developing our women’s business, but, like I said, I have learned to never say never.


'FD Luxe' editor-in-chief Rob Brinkley, left, and Tom Ford, in 2004, at Ford's Dallas book-launch party at Neiman Marcus downtown. Photograph by John Calder






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