Childhood & Early Life
Thomas Carlyle ‘Tom’ Ford’ was born to realtors, Shirley Burton and Tom Ford, in Austin, Texas. He spent his early life in Houston, San Marcos and Santa Fe.
He studied at St. Michael’s High School and at Santa Fe Preparatory School, from where he graduated in 1979. He enrolled to Bard College at Simon’s Rock and then moved to the Big Apple to study art history at New York University (NYU).
He began to focus on acting for television commercials and dropped out of NYU after only one year. He then began studying architecture at Parsons The New School for Design.
In his final year as an architecture student, he spent a year in Paris, wherein he interned at Chloe’s press office. He spent the remainder part of his final year studying fashion, but nonetheless, graduated with a degree in architecture in 1986.
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Right after he graduated from university, he was keen on working for Cathy Hardwick, an American designer. He called her every day in the hope of securing a job under her one day; and so he did. He worked with her as a design assistant for two years
In 1988, he worked at the clothing brand, Perry Ellis, with whom he worked for two years. However, he grew tired with American fashion and decided to venture out into the world of European fashion which according to him, was ‘classier’.
He relocated to Milan in 1990 and was appointed as the chief women’s ready-to-wear designer at the failing European luxury goods brand, Gucci.
In 1992, he took over as Gucci’s design director and within a matter of months expanded menswear and other apparel sections. He also led the brand’s pret-a-porter fragrances, image, advertising and store design.
In 1993, he was in charge of eleven product lines and even though most of the popular creations were his, his contributions were dwarfed by those of Mello, who was the face of the company.
He was promoted to the position of creative director in 1994 and was credited for bringing the ‘glamor’ back into fashion with fashionable hipsters, satin shirts and metallic boots, most of which were inspired by the disco-era, which influenced his fashion sense in his younger days.
In 1995, Gucci came out with an IPO on the strength of Ford’s designs. By 1999, the brand that was once-dying, had a value of almost $4.3 billion, which is mostly credited to Ford and his creative genius.
When Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) was acquired by Gucci, Ford was made the head creative director of that brand too, dislodging Saint Laurent himself as the official designer of the company’s retail line.
His advertising campaigns for YSL fragrances became extremely famous due to its bold yet creative arty expression. This catapulted both the fashion houses back into the limelight.
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In 2004, Ford left the Gucci group at a time when it was valued at $10 billion. After he left Gucci, he launched a new line of beauty, eyewear, accessories and menswear, which he introduced under the ‘Tom Ford’ label two years later.
In 2005, he announced the opening of his film production company, ‘FADE TO BLOCK’ and made his directorial debut with the film, ‘A Single Man’, in the year 2009.
His first star store, bearing his own name, ‘Tom Ford’, was inaugurated on April 12, 2007 in New York City. In the subsequent years, several ‘Tom Ford’ stores have been opened in London, Tokyo, Milan and Los Angeles.
In 2011, he was featured on the cover of the bi-annual publication ‘AnOther Man’.
His collections Spring/Summer 2003 for Gucci and YSL, which was launched at the Paris Fashion Week, is regarded as one of his greatest collections. This fashion line focused largely on animal prints on t-shirts, pants, kaftans and gowns. The line became a true trend-setter as it was introduced during a time when animal prints were in vogue.
He made his directorial debut with ‘A Single Man’, which released in 2009. The film was considered unconventional and received rave ratings from the audience and critics. The movie went on to collect a total of $24,964,890 at the box-office and was featured at a number of prominent festivals including the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. The movie was also nominated for an Academy Award for the category of ‘Best Actor’, the BAFTA Awards and the Independent Spirit Award.
Awards & Achievements
In 1995, he was honored with the International Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
In 2000, he won the VHI/Vogue Awards for ‘Best International Designer’.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America elected him for ‘Best Womenswear Designer of the Year’, in 2001.
In 2009, Tom Ford’s film, ‘A Single Man’ won the Queer Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
In 2013, he was featured in the list of ‘50 best-dressed over 50s’ by the ‘Guardian’.
Personal Life & Legacy
Tom Ford is gay with his partner, Richard Buckley, who is a journalist. They have been together since 1986 but only three years after being together, Buckley was diagnosed with cancer.
After his partner recovered, they moved to Italy and had a son called, Alexander John Buckley Ford, who was born in September 2012.
While this legendary American designer was studying architecture at Parsons The New School for Design, he was a regular at the club, ‘Studio 54’, where he discovered that he was gay.
This famous American designer’s smooth fox terriers have appeared in his movie, ‘A Single Man’ and one has even walked the ramp with this famous designer and has appeared with him in a few photos.