LGBTQ Heroes: Tom Ford
A quick look at the man, and the business, of the fashion powerhouse that is Tom Ford.
27th August 1961.
Parsons The New School for Design (interior architecture).
Ford’s introduction to the world of fashion was while he was working at Chloé in Paris.
After stints at US designers Cathy Hardwick and Perry Ellis, Ford made his reputation by moving to Milan and turning around the failing Gucci fashion house.
Ford has since gone on to create the Tom Ford International label.
Ford’s first foray into the world of film was a resounding success — his stylish and studied 2009 adaptation of the Christopher Isherwood novel A Single Man was critically acclaimed and award winning.
His follow-up film, Nocturnal Animals, is a stunningly stylish and taut thriller. Ford adapted the screenplay and directed. It’s incredibly accomplished.
Ford originally moved to New York City to study art history at New York University, but dropped out after one year to focus on his acting career — he appeared in a number of television commercials.
During his time in New York, Ford was a fixture at legendary nightclub Studio 54. The club’s disco-driven glamour remains a continuing creative touch-point.
Ford and his husband, fashion journalist Richard Buckley, have been together since they met 1986. Their son Alexander was born in September 2012.
The Gucci Turnaround
By the late 1980s, Gucci — the once aspirational fashion powerhouse — had faltered, and had become known as a declining luxury goods company.
In a risky move for Gucci, the then-unknown Tom Ford was hired as the brand’s chief women’s ready-to-wear designer in 1990.
Ford’s role at Gucci quickly expanded, soon he was also designing menswear, fragrances, advertising, and store design.
By 1993 he was in charge of designing eleven product lines.
In 1994 Ford was promoted to the key position of creative director. Glamour became synonymous with Gucci, and in 1995 photographer Mario Testino was brought in to create a new advertising campaign.
For the financial period of 1995–1996, sales at Gucci increased by 90%.
By 1999, the house of Gucci — which had been almost bankrupt at the time that Ford joined — was valued at USD$4.3billion.
When Ford left in 2004, the Gucci group was valued at USD$10billion.
Tom Ford International
2005 saw the launch of Tom Ford International which produced womenswear, optical frames and sunglasses, as well as the Tom Ford beauty brand.
In 2007 Ford launched his own directly owned flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York — coinciding with the launch of the Tom Ford menswear and accessory collection.
At last count, there are 49 freestanding Tom Ford stores and in-store concessions around the world, including Milan, Tokyo, Las Vegas, Dubai, Zurich, New Delhi, Shanghai and Russia.
The fragrance line produced by Tom Ford has become synonymous with quality and aspirational style — with the price tag to match. Most of the fragrance names are fairly descriptive of the scents that have been used to create the fragrance — White Patchouli; Velvet Orchid; or Grey Vetiver are examples. But there’s also a cheeky sense of fun — our favourite fragrance from Ford is simply called Fucking Fabulous.