In honor of all your wonderful Christmas eve outfits, we’re looking back at one of our favorite designer’s career and analyzing how he directed his first film; A Single Man, changed the face of Gucci and launched his own brand extending to film production, beauty and much more.
Thomas Carlyle Ford was born on August 27th, 1961 in Austin, Texas where he spent all of his childhood. As a young child, Tom was very close to his grandparents where he spent a lot of time and started to show an early interest in art.
“I was always very visual, always interested in design,” he recalls. “I don’t mean that I sat around at age 5 sketching clothes. But if my parents went out to dinner and left me alone, I would rearrange all the living room furniture before they came back home.” Ford says that his parents “encouraged me to do anything. If I wanted art lessons, they found paint and a teacher.”
The designer always looked up to his mother and grandmother and claims that the two women in his life inspired him during his career in fashion, as the two had two distinct styles which helped him later redesign Gucci’s image in the mid-1990s by bringing more sexuality to the A/W 96 collection.
Tom went to high school in Santa Fe and graduated at 17, he later enrolled at NYU in 1979 which was when he joined the crowds of New York as he became a regular at the infamous Studio 54 nightclub. This new lifestyle affected his studies which made him drop out of school and make a living as an actor in TV commercials. It wasn’t until a few years later that he decided to enroll in the Parsons School of Design where he studied architecture and later, switched to fashion.
“I just woke up one morning and thought, ‘What am I doing?’ Architecture was just way too … serious. I mean, every architectural project I ever did, I worked a dress into it somehow. So I realized that fashion was the right balance between art and commerce, and that was it.”
Soon after, Tom graduated from university and his career in fashion took a turn and he went from designer to designer until 1990 when he moved to Milan to take on the role of womenswear designer for Gucci. For a long time, the brand was struggling to keep up with new trends but Tom gave Gucci a new life and quickly escalated to become the Creative Director in 1994.
Ford completely reinvented the label with sexy and glamorous 70s vibes, with gorgeous velvet blouses and leather loafers. He expanded the company into new ventures, between men and women sportswear as well as evening gowns and home furniture. The company’s annual sales increased from $230 million to $3 billion over 10 years.
In 2005, Tom Ford founded his own fashion company which offered menswear, eyewear and beauty products and created a buzz for his new company when he posed for the cover of the 2006 issue of Vanity Fair wearing Tom Ford menswear in between Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johanson posing nude (see below).
After establishing his name in the fashion industry, Ford started to show an interest in the film industry with his first film A Single Man in 2009, starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moor. The film received wide critical acclaim with an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and Best First Screenplay
More recently in 2016, Ford also co-produced and directed Nocturnal Animals starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe. It is clearly safe to say that Tom Ford has not only won numerous fashion awards with his work with Gucci and his own brand, which he extended to the film industry. In his personal life, Ford is settled with his husband and journalist Richard Buckley, with whom he has a son called Jack and although he has a reputation of being super into sex, he continues to express his brands through both youthful but also provocative campaigns.
The Tom Ford brand goes far beyond himself as a designer. He has aced the film and beauty industry, as well as having a clear eye in fashion photography which is the reason why he is one of our favorite designers here at TWC.