For those of us not really aware of the fashion world, the name Tom Ford will not ring a bell. However, he is much more than a top designer who worked his way to the top. Born in Austin, Texas in 1961, Ford was a man in search of an identity for the first portion of his life.
After moving to New York City in order to study art history, he quickly dropped out and focused on acting in television commercials. He then enrolled at The New School to study interior architecture; thinking that this was the career he would pursue. During his last years in the program he went and lived in Paris for a year and a half where he interned at the press office of the famous French fashion house Chloe.
Upon returning, Ford spent his last year mainly studying fashion, although he graduated with a degree in architecture. He would apply to jobs saying that he graduated from The New School’s Parsons division (which also housed the school’s fashion degree) and would omit the fact that he had a degree in architecture.
Image from esquire
Despite his lack of experience, Ford would call American designer Cathy Hardwick every day for a month in an attempt to secure an interview; to which Hardwick eventually agreed to. In an interview with Hardwick, she claimed to have asked Ford who his favorite European designers were and he responded with Armani and Chanel. She hired him and a few months later asked why he’d given those responses, to which he said: “Because you were wearing something Armani.”
In the early 1990s, Gucci was struggling financially and they had gaps in the market, so Ford was hired in an attempt to help ease the pain. Within six months Ford was designing menswear and after that shoes; by 1994 he had become Gucci’s creative director and in 1999 after Gucci acquired Yves Saint Laurent he became that brand’s creative director as well.
Unfortunately, disputes kept happening between Ford and Gucci chairman Domenico de Sole, and by 2004 Ford parted ways with Gucci, leaving them in a very different state than when he came; the brand was now worth ten billion dollars.
This ultimately led to Ford designing and orchestrating the launch of his eponymous brand where he designed menswear, eyewear and accessories by 2006. Since then, Ford has dressed some of the most powerful and influential men and women in the world; in 2011 Michelle Obama wore a dress designed by Ford during a visit to Buckingham Palace. He has also dressed the likes of Beyoncé, Hugh Jackman, Will Smith, and Julianne Moore, in addition to designing Daniel Craig’s suits for his last three Bond films.
Image from Allure
During the two-year period in between Gucci and the launching of his brand, Ford also set up a production company called Fade to Black; making his directorial debut with the film ‘A Single Man’ starring Colin Firth in 2009. He went on to adapt and direct 2015’s ‘Nocturnal Animals,’ which was much more distinct than his first project in establishing his voice as a director.
It’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly is so distinct about Ford’s aesthetic approach to filmmaking at this point, although Dawn Mello (Gucci’s former creative director before Ford) could perhaps shed light on his style in fashion. During his creative differences with Maurizio Gucci, Mello was quoted saying that the dispute essentially occurred because “Maurizio always wanted everything to be round and brown, and Tom wanted to make it square and black.”
Ford continues to turn everything he touches into gold, whether in fashion or filmmaking. He has designed over 600 items for Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience World Tour, in addition to rapping during a Jay-Z song entitled Tom Ford. What’s next in store for this talented individual, we’re not sure - but we’re definitely staying tuned.