sounds like "dirty European aristocracy".....
Tom Ford Disses Fashion World's Cult of Immediacy
NEW YORK ó Tom Ford: Film directoró check. Fashion designer ó check. Entrepreneur ó check. Is he also this decadeís Helmut Lang? Thatís Helmut as in the man who single-handedly changed the international fashion system because its then-current schedule didnít work for him.
In a conversation on Monday, the morning after his no-photographers-allowed show (except those hired by the house) that nevertheless had the entire industry buzzing as instantly as one can say tweet, Ford looked as handsome as he did the night before. Then, he had stood next to one of the pair of huge dark vases, his soldierly posture in counterpoint to the perfectly meandering tree branches (bare magnolia branches with pink cymbidium orchids individually attached, to be precise) that flanked the modernist fireplace of his Madison Avenue store, the spot from which he narrated the fashion show that marked his return to the womenís arena.
Ford is well known for his savvy, but even by his sky-high standards, this was a coup: a genuine hot ticket filled with magnificent clothes that felt like the party of the season. It ran completely counter to the more-is-more, huge-venue, any-and-all-celebrities-welcomed, beam-instantly-around-the-world current that defines so much of fashion today. And everyone lucky enough to be there lapped it up.
Yes the clothes were news: gorgeous, commercially viable, unmistakably Tom Ford sexy. Karen Katz, who assumes the chief executive officer slot at Neiman Marcus Group Oct. 6, called it ďamazing.Ē
Though the collection will make its debut for spring only in Tom Ford stores, Neimanís and Bergdorf Goodman have secured it for fall 2011. ďIt was more than we could have ever imagined,Ē Katz said. ďThe suits were remarkable; the fabrics and details, just beautiful. The special evening pieces were extraordinary, but as a retailer, to see the suits is so important. The presentation was unique and so special ó Iím just sorry more of our team didnít get to see it. We were overwhelmed. It exceeded our expectations by a lot.Ē
Unlike those collections of Fordís legendary Gucci/YSL reign, this was not of the single-focus school of staging a show. Rather, it celebrated individual style, a point Ford made by casting a lineup of real women. Make that ďidealized versionsĒ of the real customers heís targeting (not even he can convince you completely that Beyoncť Knowles is just BeBe from the block), a lineup that included a rainbow of ages, ethnicities and ó drumroll ó body types. (Mind you, he didnít exactly cast a house, but not everyone had the body of Chanel Iman.)
But if youíre reading this now, chances are you already knew all that. The bigger news is that Ford plans to put the X (as in X, youíre out) back into the notion of exclusivity. Thus, while he has released a few stingy ambience photos, including the one seen here, thatís going to be it for months. Save for phone photos his guests may have gotten away with, he will remain in complete control of all images until he deems their release in the interests of the consumer.
ē No full-look photos to run alongside fashion reviews. And, by the way, he no longer gives a hoot about fashion reviews.
ē No complete run-of-show anywhere on the Internet.
ē No magazine coverage until January issues, to whet the consumer appetite for February deliveries.
ē No celebrities wearing the clothes until December.
ďThis fashion immediacy thingÖif you can see them and press a button and they can be shipped to your house, I get fashion immediacy.ÖI donít get the need for this immediacy. In fact, I think itís bad.Ē
Here, Ford elaborates on why heís back on the womenís circuit.
WWD: At long last, Tom Fordís return to womenís.
Tom Ford: When I first got back into fashion with fragrance and eyewear, I wasnít sure I was going to do anything more than that. The whole thing has developed organically. Menís developed organically because I didnít have anything to wear, and still at that point I didnít think I would ever do womenís [again].
It wasnít until probably two years ago that I thought, OK, I will actually do womenís again. To tell you the truth, I was watching a film with Tilda Swinton ó Iím not going to say which one ó and she had some good clothes. It was Christmas. I was in Mustique and I get all the Academy screeners. I was watching films and I picked up the phone and called Domenico [De Sole] and I said, ďI want to do a womenís collection. Iím ready to do it.Ē And I thought he was going to jump through the roof with joy. But I had started working on my film and I knew that it would take time to set up manufacturing and all that because we are doing this all ourselves. This is not a licensee. Weíre manufacturing and producing everything ourselves with factories in Italy.
I was doing the film and I actually thought that I could sort of throw together a design studio in L.A. really fast, sew these clothes up really quickly and get them out. Then I really quickly realized, no. As of March, I didnít have a design team. I hired my entire design team in March, set up my design office in London, signed some manufacturing deals with the factories in Italy and produced this entire collection between April and July ó shoes, bags, clothes, jewelry, every single bit of it. Weíre moving into new offices in London next week. Iíve taken a great 10,000-square-foot space, which will be my design studio and selling showroom.
WWD: For everything ó menís and womenís?
T.F.: No, just womenís wear. Iíll be selling and showing menís in Milan, but Iím going to be selling womenís in London.
WWD: Why did you decide to do that?
T.F.: Because this is the next 30 years of my life. Iím tired of flying around all over the world. I live in London a good part of the year. My design studio is in London. Iím migrating my showrooms to London. That way, I can make a movie in London, I can edit in London, I can have my design studio in London, I can sell in London, I can put the collections together in London and I can have a real base and a real life and spend less of my time on an airplane. Obviously Iíll keep my L.A. and Santa Fe [N.M.] bases. Iím expanding my offices in Los Angeles. Weíre opening our L.A. store Oscar week. Iím expanding my store in Las Vegas. All of our free-standing stores, including our franchisees, are right now being converted to hold this womenís collection for spring 2011.
WWD: How many freestanding stores?
T.F.: Twenty-eight. There will be, like, 30 by the time we open, and I own a good deal of them. For example, we had a partnership in Asia and that didnít work out as well as we wanted so we took it back. So when I sold my nice big Warhol at Sothebyís, I paid for Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. I built the stores and own them.
WWD: What was the Warhol?
T.F.: I sold a big self-portrait that set a record for $32 million. I took it off my wall in London, sold it, and with that money built those three stores. I think it will be a better investment over the long haul.
WWD: Youíre not at all sentimental about that?
T.F.: I am sentimental about paintings. I happen to have a lot of Warhols and I happen to have a really good friend who said, ďNowís a great time to sell a Warhol.Ē I actually do have sentiment about those things. But weíre all on this planet for a short time. We donít really own anything. We get to enjoy it. I enjoyed it. Itís gone. Fine. Iíve got three stores and theyíre beautiful.
WWD: Back to this womenís launch.
T.F.: It happened organically. I told myself I would not come back to womenís until I felt I had something new to say, and I decided Iím only going to do it if I have fun. Which means Iím going to do it my way. If itís successful, great. If itís not, Iíll close it. But I think it will be successful. Iím probably not going to show [on the runway]. I will do just what I do with menís ó showroom presentations for magazines. I donít want to design collections for newspaper reviews. I want to concentrate on real women and the real customer. That was also one reason last night I showed on idealized versions of our real customers, all different women of all different ages. It was all about individuality, individual style, different body types, women who have their own style.
WWD: What is it that you want to say in clothes? What is the new?
T.F.: Iíve been watching fashion for the last five or six years, obviously on the side, but I think weíve strayed away from real clothes. I think that there are fashion designers who are artists. Alexander McQueen was an artist. He was a breathtaking, spectacular, go-down-in-history artist. What I do, and Iíve always said this, is commercial design. I want to make beautiful clothes for women and men who appreciate detail, quality. Thatís what I do. I felt that I wasnít seeing that coming from anywhere else. And I wanted fashion to be fun. I think all the funís gone out of fashion.
WWD: What is fun to you?
T.F.: Last night was fun. I had so much fun and I think the audience had fun. I think the girls had fun. I think that people need to smile, I think people need to laugh, I think fashion needs to make you enjoy life.
WWD: Are you saying that girls showing clothes should smile?
WWD: You never had smiles on your Gucci runway.
T.F.: Different time, different thing. I used to do one look and that was the look ó the hair, the shoes, the bag. Also, you know, shows slowly evolved into that thing of a bank of cameras at one end of the room. If you look back at shows from the Seventies, they looked like what you saw last night. I wanted that intimacy. My clothes ó some of them might not have held up on a runway. I wanted everyone to see the details.
WWD: But you donít want anyone who wasnít there to see the pictures.
T.F.: Nothing until December. This fashion immediacy thing ó yes, if you can order the clothes immediately, if you can see them and press a button and they can be shipped to your house, I get fashion immediacy.ÖI donít get the need for this immediacy. In fact, I think itís bad.
The way the system works now, you see the clothes, within an hour or so theyíre online, the world sees them. They donít get to a store for six months. The next week, young celebrity girls are wearing them on red carpets. Theyíre in every magazine. The customer is bored with those clothes by the time they get to the store. Theyíre overexposed, youíre tired of them, theyíve lost their freshness, you see somebody wearing it and you say, ďOh, thatís that jacket that was in blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.Ē Or [a] customer doesnít want to wear that jacket that was in blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. In addition, all of the fast-fashion companies that do a great job, by the way, knock everything off. So itís everywhere all over the streets in three months and by the time you get it to the store, whatís the point?
Iím holding everything back, controlling all the photography. Iím sure there were some leaks last night from people shooting with cell phones. I wish that that hadnít happened. I donít know if it did ó Iím sure it did. Iím holding the photography back. Iím holding all the clothes back. The clothes are not going out to magazines before January issues. The clothes are not going to celebrities before December. The images are not being released online until December, when theyíll go online on my Web site. Iím putting together a little film. I had that thing so well covered last night, with video and film cameras as well as Terry [Richardson] and six of his team shooting all of our house photography.
It was very well covered, but I control all those images. Iíll select and retouch those images and then put those images out at the time that they serve the customer, which is December or January, when people are starting to think about their clothes, because these wonít be in store until February. This first season, it will only be in our own stores. Next season, it will go into limited distribution.
WWD: Meaning what?
T.F.: Bergdorfís and Neimanís, a few other select specialty retailers. Thatís going to be it. And then weíll continue building stores. The new stores that Iím building have been designed knowing that womenís was coming, so thereís a different power thatís lighter, cleaner. The second floor of L.A. was contemplated and designed to open with womenís. Weíll open L.A. during Oscar week. Letís hope our construction is finished on time.
WWD: You said youíre not going to show.
T.F.: If I have a season where I feel thereís a major shift in fashion that I want to show, Iíll show. If Iím opening a new store in Tokyo and I want to make an impact in Tokyo, Iíll show. Iím always going to show, but in a showroom setting. In a way, like people show cruise ó everyone says, ďI love the cruise presentations.Ē Why? Because itís personal, itís small, you talk to the designer, you see the clothes. But in terms of doing a show, I donít think Iím going to do this again next season. This was important to do to say to the world, ďThis is it.Ē
WWD: But however you show, no plans for outside photographers?
T.F.: Why? Why would I want to do that?
WWD: Expect a call from Donna [Karan]. She has said for years that ďfashion immediacyĒ is dangerous, that all involved should agree to stop it.
T.F.: But Donnaís corporately owned.
WWD: Everyone has long told her, ďYou canít get the horse back into the barn.Ē But thatís what youíre doing.
T.F.: Iím doing it my way or I donít want to do it. I have that luxury.
WWD: Am I looking at the early 21st centuryís Helmut Lang?
T.F.: What do you mean the 21st-century Helmut Lang?
WWD: Helmut Lang changed the entire calendar, a lone designer who said, ďIím not showing after Europe. It doesnít work for me.Ē And the whole calendar moved.
T.F.: He made a mistake moving to New York.
WWD: He made a mistake moving to New York?
T.F.: I love Helmut. I think heís very, very happy, from what I hear, and I donít like talking about other designers. But I think in terms of his design he made a mistake in moving to New York. I think one of the keys to my success, and I think it will be the key to my success in the future, is that Iím a hybrid. Iíve lived 25 years in Europe. The world is now a hybrid. Itís a hybrid of race, itís a hybrid of culture. What I do is partially European and partially American. I think itís one of my greatest strengths.
WWD: I meant that Helmut did what was best for him and changed the way all of fashion operated at the time. Do you think other people will say, ďTomís approach makes perfect sense?Ē
T.F.: I donít know. It makes sense for me and thatís the way Iím going to do it. I know that sounds arrogant, but as I said, when you love what you do, itís better. I think my last few collections at Gucci and Saint Laurent were some of my best. But I was really unhappy and I could not have continued. I needed to leave and I donít want that to happen again. I got back into this because I love clothes. I love womenís fashion. I want to do it. I want to have fun and I want women who shop and buy the clothes to have fun and enjoy it.
WWD: How did your time away from womenís fashion inform your attitude and your clothes?
T.F.: It cleared my head. I was part of the fashion system like everybody. It gave me the ability to step back and say, ďI donít have to come back and do this. If I do come back and do it, how do I want to do it?Ē And personally, my life also has never been better. It has never been better with Richard [Buckley]. Itís never been better.
WWD: Why do you think that is?
T.F.: Weíve talked about spirituality before. That made a huge difference because I had the time to reevaluate everything in my life. I donít do anything anymore that I donít want to do. I donít drink, I donít smoke, I donít take drugs. My biggest vice is Diet Coke. I realize that I work because I love what I do, so I enjoy my life. I get up every morning and I get excited about what Iím doing rather than thinking, Oh, I have to go do [this] and I want to retire and not do this. I want to work until the day I drop dead.
WWD: Letís talk about the show. As you said, youíve always done a single-focused, very theatrical show ó very controlled.
T.F.: I think Iím looser now.
WWD: How did directing the film [ďA Single ManĒ] impact your approach to the show?
T.F.: I donít think it did. I think doing the film, as I said before, was my midlife crisis on-screen. It was a catharsis and it moved me to a different place. Iím maybe more confident with who I am and less insecure and more relaxed. People who know me well have often said how funny I am, but that nobody knows that. So I feel looser, and it was funny. Donít take this the wrong way, but I said to Richard last night, ďI was really happy with the show, I loved it, and I donít have any of that angst about getting up and reading the reviews that I did when I was at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. I donít really even care what they say.Ē Now that sounds terrible maybe. I donít want it to sound arrogant, but at Gucci and Saint Laurent, I was literally waiting for those newspapers. I was terrified. Terrified, terrified.
WWD: Talk about the show. When did you come up with the idea ó format, casting, retro narration?
T.F.: I came up with the whole thing on a train ride on the Eurostar between London and Paris back in May or June. I was chatting with Whitney Boomberg Hawkins [European director of communications]. I said, ďI want to have an old, glamorous fashion show where people see the clothes and [there are] great people in the audience and great people on the runway.Ē I wrote letters to all these women. I thought, Who are my favorite icons that Iíve had on my wall forever?
WWD: Did you know all of the ladies before?
T.F.: I had met all of them. I had met Marisa [Berenson]. We werenít great friends, but sheís been a fashion icon all over my wall in almost every collection forever. Lauren [Hutton] I know because we both have a place in Santa Fe. I chose carefully. Lisa Eisner has always been one of my great friends and muses, and Rachel Feinstein is one of the most amazing women in the world and I love her body and I love her.
WWD: Was anyone intimidated? Everyone looked fabulous, but you did have some major models, past and presentÖnot to mention Beyoncť.
T.F.: I wanted all different ages, I wanted all different body types, I wanted different characters and different personalities. I literally designed those clothes for those women ó took their measurements, thought about them, thought about what they wore. I know Lauren likes white, I know she likes a hat, I know she looks good in a fedora, I know what her personality is. That was the message: Whoever you are, what we do at Tom Ford is help you develop your own individual style. And we make clothes, we make suits, we make tailoring, we make soft dresses, we make dramatic evening clothes and thatís what we do.
WWD: Did they have input into their looks?
T.F.: No. They all absolutely trusted me. I took their measurements. They had no idea what they were wearing. That was it.
WWD: I assume you worked on their individual beauty looks.
T.F.: Absolutely. I pulled images of all these iconic women that weíve all seen before ó Marisa and Lauren. I also thought, Who is this girl? Who is that girl? I put together folders of hair and makeup for each. I worked with Orlando [Pita], whom Iíve worked with for years, and Charlotte [Tilburg], whoís also working with me on my makeup collection. Theyíre both absolutely genius artists. So I had a great team. We conferred. I said, ďThis is how I see this person,Ē and then Charlotte said, ďYes, but her eyes are like this, maybe we should do that.Ē And Orlando would say, ďI worked with her last week and she doesnít have enough hair to do that so we canÖ.Ē And we created those characters. Thatís maybe how the movie helped. I wanted it to be as if it were a film about each of these women. If you were making a movie about Lisa Eisner, what would she look like? So they were amped-up versions of themselves. If you were making a movie about Marisa Berenson at this age and this time in her life, what would she be? Maybe that was the cinematic input, that in a sense these women were costumed versions of themselves.
WWD: How will that translate to retail?
T.F.: Well, I think we represent all women. When you see the showroom ó because there are other clothes in the showroom ó it all lines up. There were some seasonal messages, by the way. All the skirts were this length [indicating just below the knee], waists were fitted, skirts were slim. It will translate to the stores because I think we make a range of clothes that will work for all women. I think thereís something there for everybody, yet thereís a cohesive message, which is what we also do for men. We have slim lapelled suits and wide lapelled suits and slim pants and wide pants, and we can dress most men between the age of 25 and 75. And thatís the goal of the company.
WWD - September14, 2010
i know i should be furious about not seeing anything yet, but i do agree with his point of 'immediate fashion'. by the time November rolls around, i'm tired already of F/W 2010 because the media has been saturated already. i get confused about fashion seasons cause even tho the clothes were supposed to be for, say, F/W 2006, i've seen tons of pictures and people already in those clothes since Feburary/March 2006.
in that sense, yes, it makes me smile and appreciate it.
I just love Tom's robustness. He's so positive and clever when it comes to talking about fashion. Furthermore I really respect his more private approach to fashion because I've always valued privacy and modesty and no one does it like Tom.
He's so classy
sounds like "dirty European aristocracy".....
|#2, ford, gucci, life, tom|