Tom Ford - Biography
Tom Ford (born August 27, 1962) is an American fashion designer. He gained international fame for his legendary turnaround of the Gucci fashion house and the creation of the Tom Ford label, becoming one of the world's most influential designers.
Ford was born in Austin, Texas and grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he graduated from Santa Fe Preparatory School in 1979. After graduating from the Parsons School of Design in 1986, initially having studied architecture, he took design jobs with Cathy Hardwick and Perry Ellis.
Ford's lover of nearly two decades, Richard Buckley, is a fashion and style journalist. Noted for his interest in modern architecture, Ford has commissioned houses from the Spanish architect Alberto Campo Baeza, the Japanese architect Tadao Ando and the award winning Los Angeles firm of Marmol-Radziner and Associates.
Ford believes that he owes his success not to talent, but to his energy. He admits to sleeping just two or three hours per night, keeping post-it notes beside the bed in case he wakes up with an idea. "There are many more talented designers than me," he once told an audience at the V&A in London. "But I have a lot of drive and won't let it go." He also credits his "mainstream" appeal. "I'm lucky, I have mass-market tastes," he says. "When I say I like a shoe, generally thousands of people will like it. Thank God, because I would have been a very unhappy person if I hadn't had this kind of success." But others see it quite differently, saying that Ford's secret is the combination of a fine commercial sensibility and a genuine feel for fashion: in his former role at Gucci, he designed shoes, watches, luggage and men's and womenswear as well as planning the company's advertising campaigns and overseeing the development of their two new fragrances, Envy and Rush.
In 1990, Ford was hired by Gucci's then creative director Dawn Mello as chief women's ready-to-wear designer, and later appointed design director. When, in 1994, Gucci was acquired by a Bahrain-based investment firm called Investcorp, Ford was promoted to creative director and moved to Milan with his partner, journalist Richard Buckley. In his first year at the helm, he was credited with putting the glamour back into fashion introducing Halston-style velvet hipsters, skinny satin shirts and car-finish metallic patent boots. In 1995, he brought in French stylist Carine Roitfeld and photographer Mario Testino to create a series of new, modern ad campaigns for the company. By 1999, the house, which had been almost bankrupt when Ford joined, was valued at about $4.3 billion.
In April 2004, Ford parted company with the Gucci group after he and CEO Domenico de Sole, who is credited as Ford's partner in the success story that is Gucci, failed to agree with PPR bosses over creative control of the Group. His final show for YSL was a celebrity-studded affair as fans, including fellow designers Diane von Furstenberg, Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney gathered to support and celebrate Ford's work. Having made no secret of the fact that he didn't expect to be designing forever, Ford was rumoured to be making a beeline for Hollywood when his Gucci reign came to an end.
Following his departure from Gucci (and YSL), Ford opened the fashion house, Tom Ford. Beginning with accessories, Ford laid the groundwork for his swiftly-growing fashion empire. While all facets of his label have been received incredibly well, his line of eyewear were the first of his collection to really take-off, with virtually every celebrity from Brad Pitt, Lindsay Lohan, and Madonna to Joaquin Phoenix, Jennifer Aniston and Sally Field being huge fans of his eyewear collections. His eyewear is also favoured by international celebrites like Bollywood stars Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan, the Turkish fashionista Ipek Terzioglu and Stephen Chow the Hong Kong action star. On multiple occasions, George Clooney has stated his fondness for Ford's menswear designs. While the Council of Fashion Designers of America has yet to recognize Ford's new fashion house, the likes of a nomination will be possible when the Tom Ford label broadens its designs to cover womenswear, a direction Ford has already mapped out. The Tom Ford line now covers Menswear, Beauty, Eyewear, and both Men and Womens' Accessories. Ford's first 'Tom Ford' flagship store opened on April 12, 2007 at 845 Madison Avenue in New York City. The store carries his new, high level luxury menswear, including suits, ties, shirts, knitwear, outerwear, accessories, luggage and small leather goods. The clothing is exclusive to the Madison store and additional Tom Ford stores are planned to open in London, Milan, Tokyo and Los Angeles by the start of 2008.
Launched in Fall 2006, Tom Ford Beauty is a luxury brand of fragrances that is comprised of: Tom Ford Black Orchid, Private Blend, a twelve-piece unisex fragrance collection, and a new men's scent, launching in Fall 2007. Each scent was designed and developed by the designer himself.
In early 2006, Ford was asked to be the guest editor and creative director for the February 2006 Hollywood edition of Vanity Fair. The cover was originally planned to showcase three of Hollywood's most promising young actresses. -- Keira Knightley, Scarlett Johansson, and Rachel McAdams. Once shooting began, however, it was quickly decided that the girls should appear in the nude. McAdams was not satisfied with this decision and was excluded from the shot after refusing to remove her clothing. Feeling the photo needed more than two people, Ford stepped in and replaced McAdams. The issue generated criticism, with many claiming that it further perpetuated the need for Hollywood actresses to be sexual icons, since the edition featured no nude actors inside the magazine while featuring several nude actresses, including Angelina Jolie.
In May 2005, Ford was awarded the André Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award from the Savannah College of Art and Design. In 2002, received the Council of Fashion Designers of America Accessory Designer of the Year Award for Yves Saint-Laurent. In 2001, Ford received the Council of Fashion Designers of America Womenswear Designer of the Year Award. In 2000, Ford was named Best International Designer at the first VH1/Vogue Awards in New York. In 1995, Ford received the Council of Fashion Designers of America International Award.