The last ten years of Tom Ford has seen him return to womenswear, expand his bricks and mortar empire as well as launch his e-commerce site and tailor the wardrobe for James Bond.
However, as ubiquitous as Tom Ford can be seemingly, over 100 stores worldwide and not bound by the constraints of a singular art form, there is also a modicum of illusory about the former creative director of Gucci and Yves Saint Lauren. For example, his last news update on his website was in April 2016; the captain of the FullTimeFord blog (an unofficial Tom Ford news resource) abandoned ship two years ago. Tom Ford has the savvy not to run his mouth on Twitter like some authoritarians, instead expresses himself through his collections and uses social media as a platform to promote his products.
In interviews he speaks eloquently and candidly about his life. He talks in an expository tone about his time with Gucci and Yves and clearly has an intolerable drudgery for regaling his resume. Yet listen to him talk fervently about his film A Single Man which he describes as his autobiographical mid-life crisis, and his latest offering Nocturnal Animals and you realise where his passions lie. It’s perhaps the most obvious and lateral move for a man who after spending years on sets, photographing the imagery for his own campaigns, that he has naturally gravitated towards directing movies. His work with the James Bond franchise has been much maligned by certain fraternities and is a notable departure from his signature Texan-influenced tailoring; big showy, powerful huge lapels.
“I don’t like small lapels; it almost makes me feel sad for the suit. That the tailor ran out of fabric.”
Yet this quote almost seems contrary to the slimming style of the Daniel Craig wardrobe. The common consensus that Ford is trying to make Bond more masculine by almost shrink-wrapping his suits onto his frame. As if his physique is so pumped it has the appearance that his obstreperous pectorals are suffocating. Since taking over from Brioni and Turnbull & Asser, there is speculation on whether EON (Bond production company) are paying him to tailor Bond or vica versa. After Turnbull & Asser reportedly turned down EON’s terms of having to pay to be linked to the franchise, it’s thought to be the latter. Although whichever way the money is going, I’m sure no one is out of pocket. You only have to look at the Bond capsules on the Tom Ford site that sell out almost instantly upon release and only gets recommissioned by petition. The Quantum of Solace Harrington jacket for example went into reproduction once 50 people signed up for a limited release, to the humble tune of €2000 a piece.
Yet if there is any blame to be shouldered it should perhaps be by Bond’s costume designer Jany Temime, who it is believed, is influencing the key decisions. Regardless, Ford believes that fashion is disposable. That you have a window of relevance and once that window closes you may cease to become important. So if anyone is in a position to rip up the rule book, especially the one he has penned, then it’s him.
What’s next for Tom Ford after Nocturnal Animals will be his new Swiss watch collection and recently announced but yet to be formally revealed, new underwear and briefs capsule. For that he has sought the council of the Italian underwear manufacturing giant Albisetti International – a company that has previously worked with Dolce & Gabbana, Hermés, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, and Burberry.
Yet what lies in store for Tom Ford only he really knows. He has mentioned that he only does what makes him happy nowadays so he is unlikely to be dragooned into doing something for financial gain. Yet a man who doesn’t know how to sit still, a visionary and a prolific creative mind is unlikely to retire anytime soon. My guess is he’ll continue to make more arthouse movies, translating the literary form to celluloid. Perhaps the perfectionist will learn to loosen the reigns and delegate production, maybe the writing and solely concentrate on directing. His films have made money although it’s a genre that typically struggles to make astronomical figures at the box office. That said there is a huge reservoir of fandom for Tom Ford universally across the sexes. I doubt you’ll see him endorse fish fingers anytime soon, but ultimately Tom Ford will take a rest when he runs out of things to say. As he harks back often to his studies of sculpture and architecture, everything has a logic and a reason. If he wants to produce a collection, it’s because it is beneficial to him to express himself in that way. EJ