A Fashion Hero Returns
By SUZY MENKES
Published: September 13, 2010
NEW YORK — Beyoncé Knowles, in a silver sequined dress, sashayed toward Tom Ford. She turned by the marble fireplace, where vases were filled with cherry blossoms intertwined with orchids, tossed her ample curls and revealed a hazy tease of nudity on her famous booty.
The performing artist was one of a stream of famous women who showed off the first Tom Ford women’s collection in the intimacy of the designer’s Madison Avenue store — an event so private that it took fashion back to a distant past when there were no banks of paparazzi or images whizzing off into cyberspace.
Only the photographer Terry Richardson, splaying himself across the floor in his enthusiasm and excitement, captured this exceptional fashion moment, when Julianne Moore, the female star of “A Single Man,” Mr. Ford’s first movie, walked the store runway with her daughter, Liv Helen Freundlich, laughing and applauding. Ms. Moore wore a silk fringed dress, one of several on that theme, with threads parting to show sensual shoes with gleaming ankle bows.
Then there was Emmanuelle Seigner, Roman Polanski’s wife, the epitome of perverse Parisian chic in her black hunting jacket and pants. And Lou Doillon, in Le Smoking, an inky tuxedo reincarnated from the oeuvre of Yves Saint Laurent, Mr. Ford’s dream master.
The returning fashion hero regained his glory in this cut-to-the-chase collection, to go on sale in February only in Tom Ford stores worldwide, according to Domenico De Sole, the designer’s business partner. Mr. Ford came back to women’s design with all the dash and detail, the expertise and the irony of his earlier collections.
But he also brought a thoughtful new attitude, allowing the clothes to express themselves not just on beautiful, slender young models (although there were a handful of them from the superstar Natalia Vodianova to the graceful Chanel Iman). Older models like Stella Tennant and other women brought their own shapes, age and character to the clothes, blessing the collection with their iconic fame and their strong personalities. They included the actress Rita Wilson, spouse of Tom Hanks; the fastidious muse Daphne Guinness; and the noble Victoria Fernandez, her face behind a diamante veil.
Mr. Ford’s vision was laser-focused on the man/woman thing that resonated throughout the 20th century, adding to his Saint Laurent obsession the silvered surface of classic Hollywood.
Carine Roitfeld, editor of French Vogue and co-inventor of the sleek and sexy Gucci spirit, wore a wisp of a black lingerie lace dress from the Tom Ford/YSL years. She was one of many friends and supporters, including Dawn Mello, who plucked the designer from obscurity. Ms. Mello said: “I remember him at Gucci in the early 1990s, picking up pins from the floor.”
Since then, Mr. Ford has been hired, fired, adored and rejected by fashion, and Oscar-nominated for his new cinematic career. In this comeback show, he succeeded in bringing a vibrant emotion to a collection of superbly crafted clothes that, while not new or edgy, filled the needs and stoked the desires of women as diverse as those famous and fabulous females in his show.
Our existence is not worthy without your presence. Join the fun!
The verdict everyone’s been waiting for on Tom Ford’s first women’s show since 2004: probably the best fun that’s been had in fashion since anyone can remember. All the pre-gossip about celebrities modeling at the strictly exclusive, unlisted event at his menswear store at 845 Madison Avenue was true. No one is allowed to review or see pictures of the collection until Mr. Ford releases photographs and the film footage that (unsurprisingly) he was recording. A stern pre-show voiceover cautioned: “The use of photo or recording devices is prohibited.” But Vogue Creative Director Grace Coddington and European Editor-at-Large Hamish Bowles managed to sneak in a few sketches (above). What we can’t resist describing is the hugely enjoyable, utterly camp, and hilarious atmosphere of the louchely intimate seventies nightclub–flavored and wholly lady-friendly happening Mr. Ford kicked up when he stood and introduced his cast of “many of the world’s most inspirational women.”
Gone was the sterile, slightly intimidating style of the Gucci/YSL Ford years. Here instead was the designer personally announcing a starry roster of fabulous friends of every age, ethnicity, and shape, and detailing—in tongue-in-cheek, old-fashioned couture speak—the specifics of what they were wearing: “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Miss Farida Khelfa. Miss Liya Kebede. Miss Lauren Hutton. Miss Natalia Vodianova. Miss Lakshmi Menon. Miss Stella Tennant. Miss Beyoncé Knowles. Miss Amber Valletta. Miss Rinko Kikuchi. Miss Karen Elson. Miss Daphne Guinness. Miss Marisa Berenson. Miss Karlie Kloss. Miss Rita Wilson. Miss Julianne Moore.” And on it went.
As all the models reappeared for the requisite final turn, it became, inevitably, a free-for-all, friend-to-friend chat-a-thon with guests.
The clothes? Well, the world will just have to wait a bit to see how great they were. (And they were great!)
But here, for the record, are three overheards. Karen Elson: “He made each of us look the best we have, ever.” Natalia Vodianova: “I don’t know what it was like for you out here, but back there, the combination of women! Everyone was so warm, so nervous, and so excited.” And from Rita Wilson, who basked in her in her pose-and-wiggle turn and brought the house down in the process, a summative phrase which should be a lesson to fashion beyond this launch: “What he did was give all of us permission to be ourselves.”
Our existence is not worthy without your presence. Join the fun!
well this is definitely the way you create hype. not releasing the pictures till january only makes us mere-common folk that much more anxious...especially if the clothes are even half as good as the drool-worthy descriptions.
I can't wait + I'm glad that there were a few models as opposed to all boring celebs who will surely look a straight fool.
It's torturous to make us wait to January, but honestly...I'm glad Tom's doing it. Fashion has been moving way too fast, and I'm glad it's Ford who's going against the grain (as per usual) and making a statement by doing things his own way.
The descriptions of the clothes, the women, the whole event sound so delicious, I can barely contain myself! I love you, Tom.