The Vogue Festival Highlight: Tom Ford

There are a few things about Tom Ford that you ought to know. He isn’t gay and he’s very funny. No, actually he’s side-splitting, down-right hilarious. Whilst Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman is bracing her chair, blushing furiously, Ford has the audience in hysterics as he looks shocked as Shulman’s comments; “I’m not gay! Where did you get that idea?!” His face suddenly splits into a charming smile as he laughs silently, Shulman gathering her composure whilst the rest of us try to catch our breath.

There is no denying that everyone is at the second day of the Vogue Festival to see Ford. The room practically explodes in fits of teenage-style screams when he takes to the stage. Ford looks surprisingly relaxed amongst the screaming fans and flashing cameras inside the Royal Geographical Society theatre and jumps on the stage to greet Shulman. Shockingly handsome in real life, Ford is every bit the gentleman in a sharp suit and a genuine smile to match, clearly thrilled with his reception and shocks us all with his warm, genuine character; He’s the stylish best friend, boyfriend or big brother that we all want, but also admire too much to even approach.

Considering the recent expansion of the Ford Empire, the motivation behind such visual beauty is the first topic of discussion. Whilst Ford is known for “bringing sexy back”, the man himself insists that the polished glamour and undeniable femininity in his deigns are simply “an expression of my natural taste. Glamour isn’t a word I think about, it’s just what I see”. Whilst this seems vague, the enthusiasm that Ford conveys to his audiences makes it impossible to doubt his ease with glamour and sex-appeal within clothes, especially given his empire of evidence and the billions of dollars generated every year. Conversation moves onto the recently added cosmetics, Tom Ford Beauty, to which Ford discusses how “every product in that line, I’ve had on my face. For the texture to the weight, it was every bit my work”. Whilst the product may not be on a student budget, the pieces as individuals definitely exude the result of devotion made to such an intimate item of a woman’s beauty regime. Quality is not something that Ford is known for skimping on and the time spent on his new line has definitely been a worth-while investment, with lusciously thick lipsticks and fresh, light foundations.

Unsurprisingly, Ford admits to worshipping at the alter of perfectionism. Whilst the designer himself may describe it “to the point of insanity”, Shulman emphasises how such a commitment to his work is certainly not a flaw. In disagreement however, Ford discloses how he sees it as both a blessing and a curse. Whilst it’s hard to believe that the man could put a foot wrong in the industry, “just now I told a Vogue editor that her eyebrows could be darker!”. The laughing ensues even more when Ford details his account of massaging model’s breast implants to get them the right shape.

What impresses the audience the most is Ford’s refusal to conform to the industry norm. Known for having impossible exclusive shows, in which only a select few of the industry know about, one curious journalist enquires into his reasons why. Why such exclusivity? “The thing about my clothes, especially the menswear, is that the best parts of the pieces are the little details; the cut, the stitching, the seams, the texture of the fabric.” Ford explains, “I keep my shows to a minimum to preserve that sense of appreciation and show it up close, in a more intimate way”

By this point, it’s impossible to deny how much of Ford’s character is reflected in his work. The effortlessly glamorous and seductive element to his clothes is derived from the designer’s clear passion for the feminine form and the natural style that eludes from flattering it. On his empire, Ford insists that products must reflect personality, as “style without substance is just surface”. More importantly, Ford drew attention to how he wants to make his products “timeless”, a comment that is consistent with his most recent collection of women’s wear. Although he label is still in its infant years as a reputable designer, his fan base is continuously growing alongside it. But time doesn’t seem to trouble the designer; time seems to be something that he embraces, cherishing every experience he gets and valuing the lessons learnt. If Tom Ford wants to be timeless, I don’t see any reason stopping him. If good clothes last forever, and Ford wants to “create things that people want to keep”, then his potential is infinite because, my god, there isn’t much that the screaming crowd wouldn’t do to preserve him.

Rosie Feenstra


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