I want to talk about Tom Ford today. Normally, I would never begin a sentence with those words; I’ve never been a big fan of Tom. It’s not personal. I just feel that his Gucci years were over the top, a little too much for me. By the time he had wrapped up his tenure as creative director of that re-invigorated fashion house, I’d really had enough of his smoldering, open-shirted self-marketing persona.
That said, after seeing his new collection housed in the now-requisite elegant townhouse atelier (see David Chu), I am, if not a convert, at least pleasantly surprised. His clothing is remarkable and remarkably wearable. Sure, his off the rack suits start at around $3,500, and even a simple shirt will run you almost $900. But they are very nice.
Ford has created, or re-created depending on your view of these things, a sense of classic elegance that truly hearkens back to the 1920’ or ‘30s. The clothes themselves are actually interesting. There is texture and pattern, sheen and silky heft to his materials and an easy elegance that moves way beyond the velvet gigolo thing so associated with Ford. Too often, designer clothing is stunning and beautiful, but not actually attractive. You would not really want to wear it to the office on the street. Ford has avoided this pitfall. He has moved out on his own, grown up, and grown into an even more masterful designer.
True as that all may be, what does it mean for those of us not able to run out any time soon to pick up some Tom Ford pieces?
It means you should use his or any good designer’s offerings as a template for your own sense of style. Visit the store; look at some ads or photo shoots, like the one-pager in the August issue of Esquire; or simply collect images and samples of style elements that you like. Make your own look book. Search for affordable alternatives to the $900 shirt. If you happen to find one at H&M, that’s great. Go ahead, mix high- and low-end pieces. Never be beholden to a label or an image, unless of course it’s your own.