Tom Ford was born in Austin, Texas in 1962, but spent most of his childhood years in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Tom Ford enrolled on an art history course at New York University and was also trained as an actor. It was there he discovered the seminal Studio 54 nightclub and Warhol’s Factory, where he met pop artist Andy Warhol for the first time.
Tom Ford studied interior architecture at Parsons School of Design in New York. He later moved on to finish his studies at Parsons in Paris, France. By the end of the course Ford realised that he wanted to work in fashion. As soon as his studies were completed in 1986, Ford quickly returned to New York where he began his professional training.
In 1990 after moving to Paris, Ford was hired by Gucci’s then creative director Dawn Mello (previous head of purchase with Bergdorf-Goodman) as chief women’s ready-to-wear designer. A few years passed, and in 1992, he moved up the corporate ladder of the fashion world and once again took on the role of Design Director.
Business went bad for Gucci and Tom Ford was almost fired by Maurizio Gucci in 1993, but this was counteracted by Domenico de Sole, director of Gucci America Inc.
Tom brings a hard-edged look synonymous with 21st-century glamour to his clothes. In 2000, the Gucci group added Yves Saint Laurent to their stable and, unsurprisingly, Tom’s first collection for the French label was a study in black and white. In that year, Ford was named Best International Designer at the first VH1/Vogue Awards in New York.
“I am a perfectionist,” declared Tom Ford. “This job is a total ego thing in a way. To be a designer and say, ‘This is the way people should dress, this is the way their homes should look, this is the way the world should be.’ But then, that’s the goal: world domination through style.”
He made profits soar at Gucci, which was faltering when he took over. During this year there seems to have been some disagreement between Yves St. Laurent and Tom Ford about the way YSL was proceeding. This led to the resignation of Yves St. Laurent in January 2002 from the company he had built. Gucci bought out YSL Rive Gauche and appointed Tom Ford to take up the design responsibilities of YSL Ruve Gauche ready-to-wear.
In November 2003 it was announced that Tom and chief executive Domenico De Sole would be leaving the Italy brand in 2004 “with great sadness” but Ford said he was “confident that we are leaving behind one of the strongest teams in the industry.” Then in March 2004, he presented his last collections for YSL Rive Gauche and Gucci, amid very emotional farewells. Both collections were smash hits.
Celebrity fans of Ford’s style include Madonna, Bianca Jagger and Trudie Styler (“Well, he’s perfect, isn’t he? He’s like Sting, he doesn’t do small talk. He doesn’t always give very much of himself, so you want more.”). But Ford’s ultimate sign of approval came from his mother, who was heard to demand her YSL discount card after watching his first runway show for the house.
As the first major initiative, this company has now collaborated with cosmetics giant Estée Lauder to create beauty products and fragrances. No financial figures have been revealed about the deal. We saw the beauty line and sunglasses by the end of 2005, also a woman’s fragrance ‘Amber N.de’ and ‘Youth Dew’.
Then Ford announced a return to fashion with a signature ready-to-wear men’s line. The clothing line, which will be produced by European manufacturer Ermenegildo Zegna,cater to a high-end clientele, with a men’s suit fetching upwards of $2,000.
Starting from Madison Ave, Manhattan, there are now stores across the world.
In 2010 Ford sold his Andy Warhol self portrait for a staggering $32 million having paid just $15 million for it a few years earlier.
Meanwhile, Ford has made a seamless transition to filmmaker with A Single Man, the soulful, immaculately styled story of a grieving college professor in 1960s California.
The ultra-confident Ford never doubted his abilities — though he admits plenty of other people did.
“It’s funny, because everyone was so supportive,” Ford said. “And now that I’ve made the film, quite a few people have said to me, ‘Isn’t it nice you did that when everyone was laughing at you?'”