Tom Ford, The Suave Showman, Returns by Bridget Foley
If you were on the show circuit during Tom Ford’s first fashion life, his hiatus from the runway left a big fat void.
During that heady span from fall 1995’s hip-hugger heat to his exit from Gucci Group in 2004, the invitations may have read “Gucci” and “Yves Saint Laurent,” but the swagger, the bravado, the breathy sexual tension were all Ford. The man didn’t invent sexy dressing and it will be around long after his best sexual fantasies are just that. But no one else in recent memory has steamed up the runway more convincingly than he; you typically left his shows more tingly than when you went in. And oh, yes, it wasn’t just for show. Together with Domenico De Sole, Ford built an incredible fashion business where one had not existed before.
These days, the label reads “Tom Ford.” So did the invitations that heralded the designer’s return to a full- scale show, this one at London’s heavily gilded Lancaster House. Though the runway itself was familiar territory, the reaction to the show Ford called “Cross Cultural Multi Ethnic”—code for head-spinning mashes of color, pattern, texture and all-around visual overload—took him by surprise. He expected people to love his Eighties-centric, antiminimalist manifesto. Instead, many in the audience— including critics charged with reviewing the collection—were at first shocked and then utterly perplexed.
Ford discussed that dichotomy and other matters with WWD. Among his points: his expectation that the Tom Ford brand will become a top-five luxury brand globally “certainly within the next 10 years, if not sooner.”
WWD: The audience reaction you felt backstage was very different than what you’d expected. How so?
Tom Ford: I expected a very strong, positive reaction. That’s because I felt absolutely exuberant with that collection. I felt excited about the clothes in a way that I haven’t felt in a long time, and I felt excited about every single piece. I didn’t want to be bored with any single piece. If there was a piece that was even remotely boring, I didn’t want it on that runway. I wanted every single piece to be collectable.
And there is that customer now. There is that customer that pretty much just shops at our level for collectable, amazing pieces. They don’t want ordinary, and in fact, ordinary doesn’t sell for me. For example, the more expensive fragrances are the bestsellers.
WWD: So you expected a very strong reaction.
T.F.: I expected a more positive reaction in a stronger way. And what I got was a sort of stunned reaction. I couldn’t read [it] when people started to come backstage—what they thought. But that simple fact was proof of not getting the reaction that I thought I was going to get. And the reviews were lukewarm. They were not “Oh my God, those are the worst things I’ve ever seen,” but they also weren’t “Oh my God, that was great.” They were sort of old-fashioned reviews, like “Well, there were pink jackets.”
WWD: Descriptives aplenty?
T.F.: I thought, “Are people just trying to be nice because they like that I’m showing in London? Or were people just stunned?” Then when people started to get to Milan, I started to get e-mails from fashion-editor friends, or editors that I’m close enough to that have my personal e-mail address. Some of them were extremely positive. But the whole thing felt a little more silent than I expected it to, because the clothes are not silent.
WWD: Certainly not—at least from the pictures. If you could do it over, would you?
T.F.: I think that I chose the venue inappropriately. It’s hard to not fall back on things that have worked for you in the past and to make those steps toward moving forward. The way I show—I have got to move forward. The space, the room, the boys, the champagne…
WWD: Boys and Champagne.
T.F.: The place that we showed was so opulent. It was a royal palace and Queen Victoria was said to have been jealous of it. It’s in immaculate condition with every bit of gilt in place. That wasn’t enough—I had to line the steps with 75 boys. I had their hair all cut the same way. We had to line them up and cut their hair; of course they had been cast. There were waiters and ushers, and the waiters were all in white jackets and white gloves serving Champagne, serving gin and tonics.
It was in the evening, so when you drove up, the facade was amazing; there were flaming torches. And then the opulence of the rooms, which have amazing chandeliers, which of course we spot-lit, and gilded ceilings. The opulence of the room with the opulence of the clothes, I think it was ultimately just too heavy. Had I shown those same clothes in a stark white environment, I think they would have had a very different reaction.
WWD: But the clothes were shocking in themselves, don’t you think? There was so much going on.
T.F.: There was a lot going on, which I wanted. I did put a card in the seats which no one really read, and some reviewer said she sat on it.
WWD: “Cross Cultural Multi Ethnic?”
T.F.: Yes, which is what it was. I’m not going to say there weren’t any failures. There were maybe two outfits that if I were doing it over again, I would change.
Two weeks ago I received my first pair of double monk strap shoes from Shoemakers and my first impression was wow. They are gorgeous, fit very well and found them to be very comfortable right out of the box. Also, an important aspect is that the Shoemakers shoes features a Goodyear-welted construction (read more)!
Who is Shoemakers?
A brand of custom made men’s shoes that use the traditional Goodyear Welted construction. Through 8 stages of production, each pair of shoes undergoes over 200 individual operations. This process takes about 30 days. Also they apply special hand finishing techniques to the supple leathers. The burnishing and antiquing effects of our craftsmen have evolved into a unique feel and distinctive look.
“You have the choice of the Style, Size & Width, Material, Color and Craftsmanship. Ultimately giving you a pair of shoes custom made to your personal preferences. If you have any other questions please fill in the “Contact” section. This may include details such as multiple color or material choices, or if you have a material preference not listed on the page.
Start the process of having your own “Made to Order” shoes. We have devised an easy “5 Step” system to complete your choice of unique shoes. We are currently estimating 30 days for Made to Order shoes due to the nature of making a specific unique pair of shoes for each valued customer.
1. Select your shoe design
2. Select your material
3. Pick your color
4. Select the craftsmanship & construction
5. Provide fit & measurement “
This classic cap toe double monk strap will be a versitile mainstay in your wardrobe. It matches with a suit as well as worn in jeans.
Quality, excellent service, craftsmanship, beautiful design. I’m proud of my new Shoemakers shoes!
In my opinion, a Goodyear welted shoe, in terms of construction, is what separates the men from the boys.
This is not to say that men who wear other constructions are boys, but in terms of a shoe’s integrity, Goodyear welted shoes will last you longer than most and therefore are the bread & butter of the high-end shoe market. It is generally regarded as the best construction in terms of comfort and durability as well as ease in terms of reparation. It also holds the same theory as bespoke welting, yet the obvious difference being that in bespoke it is done by hand and does not have a canvas rib supporting the feather.
It is highly regarded for several different reasons: 1, for being relatively waterproof, because of the welt/sole connection, not allowing for water to get into the insole; 2, for it’s relative ease in replacing the sole, thus giving you a shoe that can truly last 20-30 years depending on how you treat the upper leather; and 3, for it’s cork filling, which is known to create a nice mold of your foot, after a good amount of wear, providing an almost custom-like foot-bed.
While Goodyear welted shoes, are used very much by the English shoe market, the term and machinery used to create such shoes, were actually invented by Charles Goodyear Jr., the son of American inventor, Charles Goodyear, whom invented vulcanized rubber.
Shoes from HandmadeBrogues.com