Tom Ford is an American Fashion designer, who is famous for turning around the Gucci fashion house. For the past 20 years, Tom Ford has been one of the most influential designers in the world. Tom was born in Austin, Texas but spent the majority of his childhood in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For Tom, nature was definitely on his side. He talks about being picky with what he wanted to wear, even at the age of 3 or 4, and was noticing small details on his shoes that he didn’t believe were right. (Tom Ford OWN Visionaires documentary, 2011) At the age of 17 he moved to New York to pursue acting, he realized he didn’t like not being in control with regards to acting, and he went on to enroll in Architect at Parsons School of Design in New York and Paris.
Tom has said that rather than focusing on the architectural model he was to build he was more concerned about what the figures in his model were wearing. He realized architecture was too serious a discipline for him and even went so far as to misrepresent himself to get his foot in the door of the fashion world. His career rose rapidly and at the age of 30 he became the Design Director for all of Gucci. (Tom Ford OWN Visionaires documentary, 2011) He believes perfection is something you are born with, and that his creative drive is “obsessive”, that “perfectionism is almost an illness” for him. (Tom Ford OWN Visionaires documentary, 2011)
gucci raised from the dead
In 1990, Gucci hired Tom as the Womenswear Designer, and at that stage the company was in such a bad shape. In 1992, he became Design Director, yet during 1993-1994 Gucci was almost bankrupt. They appeared to be stuck in organisational inertia. In 1994 he was appointed Creative Director of Gucci. The businessmen running the company at that time were focusing all their energy on how to break the company apart, and what to do with it. Tom had a moment when he was in complete creative control and what he thought was right for Gucci. He went on to design a collection that was unlike anything else Gucci had ever done. It was stated in his contract that he was not allowed to speak to the press, he was not allowed to publicly be the face of Gucci, and that he was not allowed to step out on the runway. Being the risk taker he is, he broke all those rules and is famous for his sending his collection down the runway, and at the end stepping out onto it. (Tom Ford OWN Visionaires documentary, 2011) His collection oozed sex, something that had gone missing during the 80’s.
This could be attributed to the devastation of the financial industry or the fact that AIDS had also become widely exposed during the 80’s. It was looked upon as something dangerous and the lack of sensuality was reflected in all the arts during the 80’s. Looking back you can see a 70’s sensuality to his collection. Excitement over this collection ensued and 6 months later, clothes were in the stores, and he continued to have more hit collections. Sales took off, doubling and doubling. His aesthetic was so gorgeous, so sleek, so sexy, modern, romantic, everything about it I adore. As did many back then and today. Not only the fashion but he had the best taste in music and models. When discussing Tom Ford runway shows many recall the time of the infamous Kate Moss.
He was also so good at setting a mood for his shows, so few shows these days have such an atmosphere. He was genius. And having Carine Roitfeld, previous editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris as his number one fan is just a testament to how perfect he is. He is credited for bringing back exuberance, happiness and joy. It was in a way his marketing tool, it was effective in that time as it was fresh. In 1999 Gucci became very successful. Discontinuous change had taken place, Tom Ford’s innovation was revolutionary, he had taken reign over Gucci, but he wasn’t stopping there. The Gucci group took their success and went on to purchase Yves Saint Laurent. He then started designing between Milan, for Gucci and Paris, for YSL, and was creating approximately 16 collections a year for both.
In January 2000, following the acquisition of Yves Saint Laurent and YSL Beaute by the Gucci Group, Tom Ford assumed the position of Creative Director of Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and YSL Beaute in addition to his then existing duties at Gucci. Tom worked with all creative teams at YSL to define the overall image and positioning of the YSL brand including all product categories and communication activities. (Tom Ford The Brand) He also served as Creative Director of Gucci Group. In July 2002 he was made Vice Chairman of the Management Board of Gucci Group. (Tom Ford The Brand) During Tom’s 10 years as Creative Director at Gucci and Gucci Group, sales increased from 230 million dollars in 1994 to almost 3 billion dollars in 2003, making Gucci one of the largest and most profitable luxury brands in the world. (Tom Ford The Brand)
So who or what inspires Tom Ford. He is inspired by a myriad of elements in his life, in particularly the friends that he thinks have great style; the women with jobs, kids and lives. Women with character, iconic women as seen in his first Tom Ford brand runway show: Beyonce, Lauren Hutton, Marisa Berenson. His life and his mood attributes much to his inspiration, how he’s feeling and how he reacts to culture. (Full Time Ford, 2011)
After the success of Gucci and YSL, Tom found himself burning out. If he was awake, he was working and in April, he left the Gucci. Following his departure from The Gucci Group, he lost himself; he was no longer designing and hit a low. He was missed extremely by many Tom Ford fans as well as the fashion industry. Reflecting on his departure from Gucci, he mentions “nothing lasts”. (Tom Ford OWN Visionaires documentary, 2011) After reinventing Gucci and YSL, Tom started the Tom Ford brand in 2005. Tom Ford is a passionate designer, and he transfers that passion into work, he is a very deep thinker. Most importantly he believes 90% of his success is due to his drive. (Tom Ford OWN Visionaires documentary, 2011) He will continue to design under the Tom Ford brand, one hopes for many years to come. Fashion is his business, it is an enhanced version of who he is.
Full Time Ford. (2011, July 5). Retrieved August 6, 2012, from Tom Ford Does China: http://www.fulltimeford.com Tom Ford OWN Visionaires documentary. (2011, December 22). Retrieved August 6, 2012, from YouTube: http://youtu.be/NsmJ_l4jZFQ Tom Ford The Brand. (n.d.). Retrieved August 6, 2012, from Tom Ford: http://www.tomford.com/#/en/thebrand/tomford
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