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Interview: Tom Ford

Posted: Dec 01 2011

Interview: Tom Ford

Tom Ford. For anyone with even a passing interest in fashion, the name needs little introduction. The 50-year-old Texan-born, New York-educated fashion designer-architect- businessman-writer-producer and model has worked as creative director of Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci, before launching his own eponymous clothing, fragrance, cosmetics and accessories brand in 2005 – and surprising everyone with multi-award-winning film ‘A Single Man’ in 2009, as well as his first women’s line last year. Today he has 21 stand-alone stores, including one in Beirut, and is stocked in more than 65 shops internationally. But what’s a man this successful
really like? We had an incredibly frank talk with him to find out.

Something about you, Mr Ford, unnerves people. Maybe it’s your charm. Or your humour. I’m a little nervous...
[Talking slowly] You don’t have to be nervous, I’m just Tom. There’s Mr Ford the product and Tom the person. They overlap but I’m always surprised when people are nervous. You’re afraid of my charm? No, come on. [Sits up and leans in] Where are you from? Did you grow up here?

Throughout our interview, Ford steers the conversation to his preferred direction time and time again. 'Do you mind if I refer to my question sheet?' I ask. Ford turns his line of vision to my business card. 'Time Out,' he purrs, 'You’re supposed to hand it to me properly.' And before I can utter another word he’s running away with his own conversation... 'I think of myself now as an international global brand.'

So you have a world view?
I believe what ultimately will happen, 100 years from now, is that we’ll all be completely racially blended. You know, culturally, everyone’s into marrying the world and the world is shrinking in terms of communication. Racial boundaries are completely a blur. Chinese will be marrying Americans, will be marrying African-Americans. It may take 250 years but we will be one race. The world. It will all blur together. So I think we’re at the last moments of separate ethnic races.

Can we talk about your rumoured new comedy film?
No, because I won’t tell you about it. I believe you should do something and then talk about it, which is why I didn’t talk about my women’s collection until it just appeared in New York. And I didn’t talk about my movie until it was finished.

But the script must be...
I don’t want to talk about it because I believe you’re also giving away energy when you talk about things.

Let’s talk about your fashion label. Enzo Ferrari would never sell his cars to somebody with bad taste. What does Tom Ford feel about this?
I used to make jeans that cost $50, and at this stage in my life, after 25 years in the fashion business, what interests me the most is the best. The best fabric, the best stitching, the best quality, and that is, by nature, expensive. It doesn’t mean I’m trying to exclude or make a social judgement about not wanting people who can’t afford my clothes to be stylish.

So you’ve auto-selected your clients during the design process already...
I think one does that when they design. You design for a kind of ideal. The ideal comes from me, from menswear. I’m my muse.

How much pressure exists in the fashion industry? And how do you feel about what happened to Alexander McQueen [suicide]?
I certainly relate. I brought Alexander McQueen to Gucci Group and I loved him and he’s a true artist. I do understand that pressure, because I used whole company drops, and you feel responsible. With the work at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent I couldn’t have gone on much Gucci to where it was I was like a racehorse. You need to perform, perform, perform.

Do people say ‘yes’ to you all the time?
Of course they do.

And is that part of the pressure?
Yes. You lose perspective. I hadn’t flown on a commercial plane for 10 years when I left Gucci. I now fly on some commercial planes. It’s a good awakening for me.

Tom Ford (01 993060) Karagulla Bldg, 24 Avenue du Parc, Downtown Daily 10am-10pm.

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