Tom Ford : Life after Gucci #2
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Join Date: Mar 2006
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?
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
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