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THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND: THE HISTORY OF TOM FORD

Words by Georgie Blank

To be perfectly honest I haven’t written in a while because I frankly had no idea what my next attempt at writing should be; but then I remembered a conservation I had with my fellow Fashion Institute student and friend, Linda, with whom I spent an entire lunch break talking about the genius, Tom Ford. In her words she said: “Tom Ford is that man and Georgie you should write about him for your next post because everyone should know what a genius that man is.”

Without further ado I present the history of Tom Ford…

Taking it back to the beginning, Tom was born in Austin, Texas in 1961. In an interview on the Oprah Winfrey Network,Tom details his obsession with fashion and perfectionism from a young age “ I remember looking at a pair of shoes when I was 6 or 7 years old. I remember it so vividly I was riding at the back of a car, I’m staring down at these brand new pair of shoes and there was just the bump of the toe was off by like a millimeter. I didn’t know what a millimeter was back then but it was just wasn’t quite the right shape and when I got home I took them off and I just wouldn’t put them back on again.”

At 17 Tom moved to New York to study art history at New York University, with a secret desire to be an actor. He also took acting classes on the side. However, the problem Tom soon realised with acting, was that he was not in control and being a natural born perfectionist, that didn’t sit right with him.


Tom’s next move was to go back to college and study architecture at Parsons School of Design. Parsons is renowned for its fashion design program with alumni including: Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wang.

In his own words Tom said


“Ikept finding a way to fit fashion into whatever project I was working on. We had to make full scale well not full scale but scale architectural models and you would spend days and days cutting pieces of balsa wood and I would often spend more time figuring out what the little figures I was putting in would be doing and wearing.”


After graduating, Tom created a fashion portfolio. He advised that he had just graduated from Parsons, however not specifying that he graduated from the architectural program. A prime example of ‘fake it till you make it’.


In 1988, Ford became the design director at Remy Ellis, a position previously held by Marc Jacobs. After only a few years at this position, he was appointed creative director of Gucci in 1994. This era of fashion is one that many consider to be their favorite, and from a business perspective, it was a glorious time for Tom building Gucci to be worth $4.3 BILLION after being on the verge of bankruptcy. Growing Gucci is one of the most profitable and sort after luxury fashion label.

The ambiance Ford created was sleek, sophisticated and timeless. Some memorable occasions included the red suit made famous by a pre-GOOP Gwyneth Paltrow. Charlize Theron also wore Gucci on the night she won the Academy Award for her performance in Monster.

Creative differences saw the Tom Ford Gucci era of fashion come to an end in 2004. In 2006, Tom Ford made an epic comeback to high fashion, along with making waves in the cosmetics and fragrance industry. He started Tom Ford Beauty which is to turn over $1 billion in sales by 2020. In the hopes that this blog post reaches Tom, I would like to ‘shoot my shot’ and ask for a lipstick, preferably the shade ‘Dressed to Kill’ but beggars can’t be choosers.


Dominating the fashion and beauty industry simply wasn’t enough. Ford managed to carve out a film career, as well as direct a debut A Single Manfor which he acquired an Academy Award Nomination for Best leading Actor. The second film he directed and wrote was Nocturnal Animals which received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Both films have received critically acclaim.


Just when I thought Tom Ford couldn’t get any cooler, Jay Z goes and writes a song about him, which I personally don’t believe is a better way to cement your status in pop culture.

Tom Ford has definitely had quite the career, although he may be at the top of his game now, I believe his story is a great reminder of someone making a name for himself in an industry that can be hard to crack.



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