Tom Ford is a man with many strings to his bow. He is a film director, a script writer and a film producer. You may have seen our review of his latest film Nocturnal Animals. But it is fashion where Ford has achieved legendary status. First mastering his craft at European fashion houses Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent (not bad for a first gig) before starting his own brand in 2005. The Tom Ford collections include lines of menswear, beauty products, accessories and most importantly an extensive range of eyewear.
He was born in Austin, Texas in 1961, to realtors Shirley Burton and Tom Ford (Snr). He spent his early life in the suburbs of Houston until his family moved to Santa Fe, when he was 11.
Around the age of 16, he moved to New York City to study art history at New York University but was to drop out of after a year, focusing on acting in television commercials. Ford then began studying interior architecture at The New School’s art and design college, Parsons the New School for Design. While in New York, he often visited the renowned Broadway theatre Studio 54, where he realized he was gay. The club’s disco-era glamor at the time would be a major influence on his later designs. Before his last year at New School, Ford spent a year and a half in Paris, where he worked in the press office as an intern at well-known New York brand Chloé. This would inspire his interest in fashion, a subject that spent his final year at The New School studying, but graduated with a degree in architecture.
In 1994, Ford was promoted to Creative Director of Gucci. In his first year at the helm, he introduced Halston-style velvet hipsters, skinny satin shirts 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 ad campaigns for the company. Under Ford’s command, sales at Gucci increased by 90%. At one point, Ford was the largest individual shareholder of Gucci stock and options. By 1999, the house, which had been almost bankrupt when Ford joined, was valued more than billion dollars.
When Gucci acquired Yves Saint Laurent in 1999, Ford was named Creative Director of that label as well. Initially Saint Laurent was not best pleased with Ford’s designs, stating “The poor man does what he can”. During his time as creative director for YSL, Ford nonetheless won numerous Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards. It was at these two companies that Tom Ford really started to make a name for himself, picking up countless awards and really developing his own distinctive style. Following this, Ford left Gucci to launch his own line of menswear, beauty, accessories and eyewear under the brand named after himself. It was here that the Tom Ford legacy really started to take place.
In his eyewear you can really see the influence he has taken from the European fashion houses mixed with his classic American style. A real eye for detail means each pair feature special features among the carefully selected array of beautiful colour schemes. His sunglasses have been featured on Daniel Craig in the Bond films, as well as in his own directed movies such as Nocturnal Animals, where they were featured on actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams.