Tonight, Tom Ford will be honored by the CFDA with the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Richard Buckley, Ford's husband. But before the 52-year-old designer collects his accolade at the ceremony going down this evening at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, Ford sat with WWD 's Bridget Foley to reflect on his career, the state of the industry today and what's next for him. In the interview, the designer touches on everything from his worst collection to the new crop of up-and-coming London designers being snapped up by luxury brands. Here are a few highlights from the lengthy Q&A.
On emerging London designers being courted by luxury conglomerates: "There’s a great energy in London with the younger designers. I think people are rushed into things today, to sign their names away quickly. They’re snapped up by big brands before they realize who they are. Right from school they become the flavor of the month, and big brands sometimes snap them up. I don’t yet think we’ve seen the backlash, but we know that large multibrand conglomerates — when your time is up, your time is up and you’re out…I’m not talking about myself. Some of the more recent appointments; [there can be] such lack of regard for the amount of good work. From the outside, it can seem so callous."
On finally letting go of Gucci: "It has taken a long time for me to not feel that connection… Gucci repeats. At Gucci, they’re clearly looking at my archives. I’ll look and say, “Oh, I remember that, I remember that.” But I don’t feel attached to it anymore; it feels less personal. I don’t feel a strong personality in that brand."
One one of his worst collections: "One I’d intended to show in the showroom and a particular French journalist called and made a huge deal of not having been invited. At the last minute, I decided I’d better do a show. I sent a collection down the runway that was a showroom collection. It didn’t hang together with a cohesive point of view. The concept that I launched with — that was a mistake. It failed. And that was to create individual clothes for all different types of women."
On the retouching backlash: "I think it’s silly. There has always been retouching; it’s well-known. You see the retouched photo and the original and you can’t tell it’s the same picture. In the Fifties, they certainly slimmed them down. In the old days, Lauren Hutton would pop her extra tooth in [her gap]. Now we do it with computers. This is not new. A photograph used for advertising is no longer a photograph of a person. It’s an image…it’s not meant to be the exact replica of the person. We’re talking about fashion. Fashion is about communicating a dream."