Tom Ford Bio
A businessman. An artist. He is everything it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and designer. His ambition and persistence has led him to be one of the most influential designers in fashion. Thomas Carlyle Ford was born on August 27, 1961 in Austin Texas. His parents Tom Ford Sr. and Shirley Bunton both worked as real estate agents so Ford spent a lot of time with his grandparents on their ranch in Brownwood Texas. When he was eleven years old his family moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Ford graduated from Santa Fe Preparatory School in 1979 at 17 years old. He wasted no time and continued his education at New York University as an art history major that same year. While attending NYU, Ford became a regular at Studio 54 nightclub causing his academics to suffer. A year later he dropped out and moved to Los Angeles to act in commercials. There was a point where he was in twelve national advertising campaigns at the same time (2). A few years later he continued his education in the Parsons School of Design in New York where he studied architecture.
Ford transferred to Parson’s Paris campus for a year and a half where he worked as an intern for Chloe’s press office. Chloe is a French fashion house founded in 1952 which coined the term ‘pret-a-porter’ which means Ready-To-Wear (2). This internship triggered his love for fashion and although he spent his last year of school studying fashion, he graduated from Parsons with a degree in architecture. According to Tom Ford, architecture was too serious. “I realized that fashion was the right balance between art and commerce, and that was it.” (1). After graduating from Parsons in 1985 Ford wanted to pursue a career in fashion. He drew up a portfolio and when interviewing for jobs he mentioned that he went to Parsons, a school know for art and design, however he left out that he graduated in architecture (3). He also said that his work at Chloe was a “low-level public relations position” rather than an internship (2). What Ford lacked in experience in the fashion industry he made up for with his drive and perseverance.
Adamant about landing a job with Cathy Hardwick, a well-known sportswear designer, Ford called Hardwick’s office every day for a month straight. Annoyed by his daily calls Cathy finally answered his call to see how soon he could take a meeting. About two minutes later Ford arrived in her office because he had been calling from the lobby. Impressed by his persistence Hardwick hired Ford as a design assistant. In 1988, Ford landed a job designing jeans for Perry Ellis in New York where he knew the company’s president (Robert Mcdonald) and designer (Marc Jacobs) socially.
After a brief two years Ford grew tired of working in American fashion. Ford commented “If I was ever going to become a good designer, I had to leave America. My own culture was inhibiting me. Too much style in America is tacky. Europeans, however, appreciate style. ” (2). Staying true to his word, Ford moved to Milan in 1990 as the chief ready-to-wear Designer of Gucci. Gucci at the time was struggling to keep up with market trends and “no one would dream of wearing Gucci” according to Dawn Mello, the creative director at the time (2).
Mello hired Ford because most other people weren’t interested in the job however Ford rapidly brought Gucci back to life. Within six months he was designing menswear and by 1992 Ford was promoted to design director heading the brand’s ready-to-wear fragrances, image and store design. By 1994 Ford became the creative director and was credited with “putting the glamour back into fashion” (2). Ford completely revamped Gucci’s image with updated retro looks that oozed sex appeal (2). He introduced the company into new ventures such as men’s and women’s sportswear, eveningwear and home furnishings.
Ford also led Gucci to acquire Yves Saint Laurent where he was also named the creative director. Ford was working eighteen hour days and designing sixteen collections per year (3). Ford resigned from the Gucci in 2004 after Pinault Printemps Redoute bought it. Over the course of a decade, Ford took an almost bankrupt company and increased their annual sales to $3 billion (1). By 1999 Gucci was valued at $4. 3 billion and when Ford left in 2004 it was valued at $10 billion (2). Fortunately for Tom Ford all his success at with Gucci was just the beginning.
Early in 2005 Ford announced the opening of his film production company Fade to Black. Four years later Ford debuted A Single Man which he co-wrote, directed and produced. Based on the novel A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood, Ford put a lot of personal emotion into making this movie and admitted that it was like having an on screen mid-life crisis (3). It was nominated for a Golden Lion award as well as two Independent Spirit Awards for best first feature and best first screenplay (2).
In April 2005 Ford also announced the creation of the Tom Ford brand, a partnership to produce and distribute optical frames and sunglasses and an alliance with Estee Lauder to create a beauty brand. In 2007 Ford opened his first store and debuted the Tom Ford menswear and accessory collection (1). Finally in 2010 Ford presented the much anticipated womenswear collection during an intimate old fashioned runway show. He chose iconic women of all ages and body sizes, such as Beyonce Knowles and Julianne Moore, because ultimately it is about individuality (3).
Initially Ford was not going to launch a womenswear collection because he said it was so grueling all those years however he eventually gave in and did what he does best (3). In 2011 Ford launched a complete cosmetics collection. There are currently 15 private blend and six signature fragrances in the Tom Ford beauty collection as well as 49 freestanding Tom Ford stores all over the world. As if this overachiever doesn’t have enough projects he has also kept busy by styling Justin Timberlake since 2011. Ford has styled Timberlake for the Oscars, the Grammys, the Brit Awards, the SAG awards and his wedding.
Focusing on a young rat pack fantasy look has worked for Timberlake and Ford has created a whole new persona through the way he has styled Timberlake. “When you’re someone in your early 50s and a major global pop star who’s barely 30 identifies with your style and wants you to make all his clothes, you think I’m still valid,” said Ford (4). Fords first inspirations came from his mother and grandmother. His mother was chic and classy while his grandmother had Texas flair with everything big and flashy. Although these are two different looks, Ford found a way to combine the two when he reinvented Gucci.
According to Ford “The images of beauty you get in your childhood stick with you for life” (1). Ford is also inspired by his female friends with great style which usually includes women with jobs, kids and lives. He is also inspired by life itself and is appreciative of the architecture and construction of things. According to Ford, when he designs it is intuitive. Tom Ford is openly gay, and he and his partner, fashion journalist Richard Buckley, have been in a long term monogamous relationship since 1986. They own two smooth fox terriers, Angus and India.
In September 2012 they announced the birth of their son, Alexander John Buckley Ford. Tom Ford has been one of the most influential designers of the world for the last 20 years. This man is extremely accomplished and admits that 90 percent of his success comes from his drive (3). Not only was he able to revive and reinvent a company that was nearly extinct but he turned Gucci into one of the largest and most profitable luxury brands in the world. He has won numerous fashion awards for his work not only with Gucci but with the Tom Ford brand as well.
He has won five Council of Fashion Designers of America awards, four VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards and was named 2001’s GQ designer of the year. This man is unstoppable and his story is truly inspiring. Tom Ford is proof that with persistence, hard work and dedication you can accomplish your biggest goals. Bibliography 1. http://www. biography. com/people/tom-ford-5936 2. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Tom_Ford 3. “Tom Ford. ” Visionaries: Inside the Creative Mind. Oprah Winfrey Network. . 23 Oct. 2011. Television. 4. Trebay, Guy. “He’s All Dressed Up. ” New York Times 20 March 2013: E1. Print.