"I like to think that I brought a certain hedonism back to fashion."
Tom Ford is a Texan by birth but lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico for most of his childhood. At seventeen he left Santa Fe and moved to New York City to enroll at New York University. Initially an art history major, Ford also spent a fair amount of time studying life at Studio 54 and Warhol's Factory. He soon transferred to the Parsons School of Design with a decision to focus on architecture. Fortunately for us he redirected to fashion following graduation. He started his design career at the studio of Cathy Hardwick, rapidly followed by a move to Perry Ellis. A few short years later in 1990, he moved to Milan to join Gucci as their womenswear designer and within two years became the design director. By 1994 Ford was appointed creative director of Gucci and was responsible for all product lines, the store look, the group’s corporate image and advertising campaigns. In 1995, he showed a collection of velvet hipster pants and lean silk blouses in jewel tones; completely reinvigorating the house of Gucci. Five years later, in January of 2000 the Gucci Group purchased Yves Saint Laurent and YSL, thus making Tom Ford the Creative Director of both fashion houses. He helped to define the overall image and positioning Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and YSL Beaute. The brand quickly became a commercial and critical success; winning Ford numerous Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards. Then in July 2002 he was named vice chairman of the management board. But in April of 2004, following a buyout by Pinault Printemps Redoute, he resigned from his post at the Gucci Group.
A year later, in April of 2005, Ford started the Tom Ford brand along with former Gucci Group President and CEO Domenico De Sole (now Chairman of Tom Ford). Under this brand, Ford produces beauty collections, fragrances, menswear, footwear, and accessories. In order to reach out globally Tom Ford International partnered with the Marcolin Group to manufacture and distribute eyewear. Not one to limit himself Ford also partnered with Estee Lauder in 2005 to create a beauty brand; Tom Ford Beauty, producing Tom Ford Black Orchid, Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile De Fleur and Tom Ford for Men. Ford announced in 2006 that by 2007 he would be producing and distributing luxury men’s ready-to-wear, made to measure clothing, footwear and accessories worldwide. To coincide with the launch of his menswear, Ford opened his first flagship store in New York City, with plans to open stores in Milan, London, Los Angeles and Hawaii within the next few years. Tom Ford not only successfully reinvigorated the Gucci and YSL labels but made his own name brand an international success.
During Tom Ford’s tenure at the Gucci Group, the company’s sales increased from 350 million to 3 billion, making Gucci one the world’s most profitable luxury brands. Ford’s successes have also garnered him numerous awards including but not limited to: 5 VH-1/Vogue Fashion Awards (1995, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2004), 2 Fashion Editor’s Club of Japan awards (FEC, 2002), 2 ACE Awards from the US Accessory Council (2001, 2006), the British GQ International Man of the Year Award (2000), GQ Designer of the Year Award (2001), the Fashion Design Achievement Award (2003), the Andre Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award from the Savannah College of Art and Design (2005), Vito Russo Award from GLADD (2007), and Menswear Designer of the Year from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (2008). In 2009, “A Single Man”, Ford’s directorial debut, premiered at the 66th International Film Festival.