In a ‘Tom Ford’ State of Mind

The Tom Ford 2010 Suit collection … forget the Roman toga … royal purple never looked so good on a man.

Designer, film director (A Single Man feat. Colin Firth), and style icon. Only one man comes to mind when you think about the attention to detail that underpins the core values of a superb and iconic menswear brand: high design, precious materials and a rare combination of timeless style with a very modern edge.

Introducing Tom Ford. Fashion icon, style connoisseur, and artiste. Born in the big, wild state of Texas, it’s obvious Tom Ford has never thought small about his career or what he expects from life. When he first started in the fashion industry, Ford called American designer Cathy Hardwick every day for a month in hopes of securing a job at her mid price Sportswear Company, despite his lack of experience. Eventually, she agreed to see him. Hardwick later recalled the incident: “I had every intention of giving him no hope. I asked him who his favorite European designers were. He said, ‘Armani and Chanel.’ Months later I asked him why he said that, and he said, ‘Because you were wearing something Armani’. Is it any wonder he got the job?” Ford worked as a design assistant for Hardwick for two years.

The man himself …

By 1990 he had worked his way through American fashion houses and finally landed on the doorsetep of Gucci, then a very unfashionable brand, where he was hired as brand’s chief women’s ready-to-wear designer in 1990 and promptly relocated to Milan to take on the colossal fashion brand.

Ford’s role at Gucci rapidly expanded: he was designing menswear within six months, and shoes soon after that. When Richard Lambertson left as design director in 1992, Ford took over his position, heading the brand’s ready-to-wear, fragrances, image, advertising, and store design. In 1993, when he was in charge of designing eleven product lines, Ford worked eighteen-hour days. During these years, there were creative tensions between Ford and Maurizio Gucci, the company’s chairman and 50% owner. According to Mello, “Maurizio always wanted everything to be round and brown, and Tom wanted to make it square and black.” Though Maurizio Gucci wanted to fire Ford, Domenico de Sole insisted that he remain. Nonetheless, Ford’s work during the early 1990s was primarily behind the scenes.

Classic Ford nonchalance in silver, blacks and grays.

In 1994, Ford was promoted to creative director. In his first year at the helm, he was credited with putting the glamour back into fashion introducing Halston-style velvet hipsters 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. Between 1995 and 1996, sales at Gucci increased by 90%.

In April 2004, Ford parted ways with the Gucci group after he and its CEO failed to agree with PPR bosses over artistic control of the Group and the following year, he announced the creation of the TOM FORD brand.

In that same year, Ford announced his partnership with Marcolin Group to produce and distribute optical frames and sunglasses as well as an alliance with Estee Lauder to create the TOM FORD Beauty brand. There are currently 16 private blend and 5 signature fragrances in the TOM FORD beauty collection.

Woollens, knits and scarfs … elegante …

Since their launches, both the eyewear and beauty collections have been hugely successful and rank in the top 3 brands at specialty stores.

The brand has since become known for its atypical approach to fashion – menswear in particular. In April 2007, his first directly owned flagship store opened in New York on Madison Avenue and coincided with the much-anticipated debut of the TOM FORD menswear and accessory collection. Presently, there are 21 freestanding stores and shop-in-shops in locations such as Milan, Tokoyo, Vegas and Moscow.

Take a style tip from Ford. Mix and match fabrics, bold patterns and throw in that preppy look … timeless …

As long as this remarkable Texan reigns over his brand’s kingdom, the Savile Row rules of suiting will be forever thrown out the window and replaced by his own unique line of attack: slim silhouettes, form fitting tartan and wool blends and Colour! Colour! Colour! Ford’s suits stand out because of their innovative approach to colour and dyes i.e. a suit in grey with a steelier overcoat in the same hue, that accentuate the wearer’s movement, his manliness and the cloth’s superior drape and cut.

It’s no surprise that dudes with style have taken notice. Brad Pitt, Jon Hamm, Colin Firth, Facebook co-founder Sean Parker and Johnny Depp are all fans of the brand and in 2008, Tom Ford outfitted Daniel Craig as James Bond in Quantum of Solace.

Beware of Black crows with Velvet Envy …

His latest 2010 suit collection is unapologetic, cool and very collected and has unashamedly incorporated velvet – another new textile trend that’s making a comeback from the 80s. Wear it bright. Wear it right. Only in Tom Ford. www.TOMFORD.com