“It’s Tom Ford’s world, and we all just live in it,” stated Reginald Carson during 2009 Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in NYC. “Everything he touches turns to gold.”
Some have dubbed him the “Prince Charming of Fashion” and others “Leader of the Ford-nomenom” but for his impact, glamour, and unimaginable success, I just like to refer to it as, 'THE FORD DYNASTY' (1994 – 2004).
There are many designers that I adore, but only a select few that I worship — and Tom Carlyle Ford is undoubtedly one of them. But unlike Gianni, whom I worship for his dazzling bravado, Hedi for his reinvention on masculine identity, and John, for his extraordinary imagination, I worship Tom simply for what he did for the House of Gucci.
When Ford walked away from womenswear nearly seven years ago, he wasn’t just vacating his post as creative director of Gucci Group, where he designed for both Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, he was leaving an industry that he helped shape and reinvent. He’d brought a new understanding of glamour, beauty, sophistication, and, above all, sexual seduction to fashion. What Ford did for fashion, season after season, was constantly bring up sex—in-your-face, jutting-pelvic-bone sex—and remind everyone just how well it sells.
He was not subtle. When the fashion world did Sophistication and Lady with structured handbags and tweedy pencil skirts, Ford shaved a tidy 'G' into a model’s pubic hair for an ad campaign, thus setting the gold standard for fashion brand-building.
In a world infatuated with celebrity and status, the fundamental idea behind Ford’s work was always, “Wear Gucci and Be a Superstar.” Much like Andy Warhol during the 60s, Ford had an intrinsic understanding of the term ‘Celebrity’, and utilized such creatures to his full advantage. During the course of his illustrious reign, the rich and famous swarmed like bees to honey for his glamorous designs. From Madonna to Kate Moss, from Bianca Jagger to Princess Di, if you were famous at the time, you were wearing Gucci. Devotees around the globe waited each new season with baited breath to see what the new “It” item was going to be. It was always a season-defining, photographed-to-death, gotta-have trend.
He also contributed to the invention of the metrosexual male by introducing American men to the slightly more flamboyant and creative way of dressing that his European counterparts have enjoyed for decades. He even showed the masses how to make the impossibly stuffy, borderline nerdy blazer and jeans combo, well, chic. And by 1999, the house, which had been almost bankrupt when Ford joined, was valued at about $4.3 billion. When Ford left in 2004, Gucci Group was valued at $10 billion. That's respect.
The 90% increase in revenue was for good reason: the House of Gucci under Ford’s command was utterly incredible. Iconic Halston-style velvet hipsters, sheer structured corsets, exposed hip bone gowns, skinny satin shirts and car-finish metallic boots. In essence, full blown Fashion Porn. Not to mention Ford himself, always in his tailored jeans and jackets, charcoal stubble, and stiff white unbuttoned shirt, sipping martinis while taking his bow. I mean, who wouldn’t want a piece of that?