Tom Ford Does Not Want Your Pesky Prying Eyes At His Boring Fashion Show

Powered by article was written by Vanessa Thorpe, Arts and media correspondent, for on Sunday 20th February 2011 00.06 UTC

We know the fashion world. It is all about impact, flashbulbs, shock tactics and mass exposure, right? Well, no: not any more. Tom Ford, arch-manipulator of the scene, is about to take his industry back to the sedate glamour that used to surround the great fashion houses of Paris and Milan.

Tomorrow, somewhere in London, in front of just a few guests, Ford will modestly present his new collection of womenswear. There will be no photographers, no bloggers and no live streaming. All the American fashion designer and film director is promising for this, his first foray into London fashion week, is some “pretty clothes”. Yet the buzz surrounding Ford’s collection is already rivalling interest in the sell-out show of the festival – last night’s launch of the next collection by Issa, Kate Middleton’s favourite label.

“No one has said what will happen tomorrow, but I imagine there’ll just be a presentation rather than a fashion show,” said Charlie Porter, deputy editor of Fantastic Man magazine. “It feels more like Ford is inviting friends and people he thinks will want to see the clothes, rather than this being an aggressive or exclusive policy.”

A policy of restricted access is hardly original. All designers manufacture a drama of limited invitations and competitive seating, but do so in front of a posse of photographers and TV cameras so that images of the clothes are widely seen. Ford, however, has come up with a new “old-fashioned” model of promotion.

He first tried it last September in New York, when he invited 100 guests to a show that featured 32 models. Among those strutting down the runway were the singer Beyoncé and film stars Julianne Moore and Emmanuelle Seigner.

Ford said his intention was to re-create an excitement that had disappeared. “I want fashion to be fun again, like it was in the 1960s,” he said. “You couldn’t wait to get the clothes and put them on, and I think we’ve lost that.” He didn’t allow pictures, he explained, because fashion had become over-exposed as a result of the internet and a preoccupation with celebrities.

That may have been a little rich from someone who had just got the world’s biggest pop star to model for him, but then Ford is more than a little rich. His wealth has been estimated at £120m, and it is perhaps his astuteness as a businessman that has earned him such respect. “He is a consummate professional,” said Dylan Jones, the editor of GQ, “and he knows that the fashion industry is exactly that: an industry.”

Porter said that London stands to benefit from Ford’s commitment. “It’s wonderful for London fashion week that Ford is showing here,” he said. Ford has a profitable grasp of the power of image. In the 1990s, he played a vital role in transforming the fortunes of ailing luxury goods empire Gucci. When he arrived in 1990, it was riven by family disputes and on a path to bankruptcy. Having made a success of the ready-to-wear line, Ford was promoted to creative director in 1994. By the time he left – a decade later – the House of Gucci was valued at £6bn.

Ford’s overhaul of Gucci is viewed as the textbook example of how to rebrand a label. By common consent, he brought sexiness back; it was his idea to make clothes that emphasised rather than hid the human silhouette. He also oversaw vividly sexualised publicity campaigns – such as an advert for the scent Opium, featuring a naked Sophie Dahl – that grabbed attention and a hugely increased share of what became known as the “masstige” (or prestige mass) market. A few years ago Ford acknowledged sexiness was no longer the thing. “That moment is gone,” he said. “I wouldn’t do a thong now.”

Ford dates his appreciation of fashion design back to when he was a young boy watching his grandmother. She was a woman, he has said, who loved “shopping, dressing and making herself beautiful.” As a child, he did not feel comfortable and longed to grow up, he told the Los Angeles Times this month. “I wasn’t good at sports. I wanted to read things other kids weren’t reading. I wanted to be at my parents’ cocktail parties and mix martinis. I wanted to live the fantasy life I saw in films,” he said.

His departure from Gucci left him at a loose end with a massive bank balance – a period he has described as his midlife crisis. He opened a film production company called Fade To Black, and in 2009 directed A Single Man, a lauded adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s novel about a grieving gay academic, starring Colin Firth. But tomorrow, Ford is clear, is not a film premiere.

“I don’t want to be reviewed,” he said. “I’m not an artist with an opening; this is not a film. I’m just trying to make pretty clothes. And beautiful clothes make beautiful women, but sometimes they don’t make fashion news.” © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #fashion #tomford stories and more


  • alan brickman

    this is so average …..

  • Harbo

    Tom Ford is a brilliant designer and a brilliant stratigest. He’s simoly trying something new, so Queerty shouldn’t be so bitchy. Ford is doing the right thing. He doesn’t need your input.

  • Ruddigore

    Vanessa, stop trying to make “masstige” happen. It’s never going to happen.

  • Jamie

    I love Tom Ford, especially as a film director.

  • adman

    Everything Ford does bears his distinctive yet subtle stamp, and remarkable quality. Am I biased because my man looks so sexy in his suits? (especially the *ahem* slacks?) Why yes, I am. Keep it up Mr Ford, never mind the haters. Oh, and if you could get that next film project going, it’ll be much appreciated.

  • Right Wingers Are Socioptahs (John From England)

    I think he is just ACE.

    @alan brickman:

    Tell me many how many honest celebs are out there like Ford?? Huh? NPH? Mr Perfect who took his man from another guy with kids?

    I know WE like who WE like but come on people….

    Does EVERYTHING-comment, post-on this blog have to be soooo full of agenda and subjective??

  • Jeffree

    Ford knows his fashion history, and knows that when other designers are doing “more of the same”, he needs to go back to his inspiration and do something different from other designers. You don’t have to love him or his clothes, but it’s hard to argue with his success.

    And, please note that THIS site’s best-written pieces lately come from the Guardian. Those writers could teach the ones from Q’ty a thing or two….

  • Phoenix

    Love Tom Ford!

Comments are closed.