Tom Ford, Clothing Designer, Will Open Store of His Own

Putting an end to months of speculation about his future in fashion, the designer Tom Ford announced yesterday that he would open his first store, in New York. The three-story 10,000-square-foot space on Madison Avenue, set to open in November, will showcase his men’s wear collection, his first fashion line since leaving Gucci nearly two years ago.

The line, produced in partnership with the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, the Italian men’s luxury clothing and accessories brand, will be sold only at the store, at Madison Avenue and 70th Street. Its introduction is the latest phase in the resurrection of Mr. Ford’s design career, which throughout his decade-long reign as creative director of Gucci was linked inextricably with luxury and a highly candid sexuality.

Since leaving the company in April 2004, Mr. Ford has maintained his profile, forming an alliance last year with Domenico De Sole, his former partner at Gucci Group, to create the Tom Ford brand. The introduction of the men’s line follows the successful debut last year of a limited-run cosmetics and fragrance collection as part of a licensing agreement with Estée Lauder and an eyewear brand licensed by the Marcolin Group, an Italian manufacturer.

This month, Mr. Ford raised eyebrows as the editor of an issue of Vanity Fair celebrating Hollywood. On its cover the designer nuzzled a naked Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson, an image that struck some fashion insiders as evidence that his signature steaminess had grown musty and dated.

Mr. Ford’s re-entry into the fashion arena may signal a retreat from his sexually charged marketing style. In an interview, he described his new store as “an old-fashioned men’s haberdashery and tailor.” Accordingly, it will place a significant focus on made-to-measure clothing, a way of reaching a customer, he said, “who doesn’t want to look like a banker, but does not want either to look trendy, silly or too much of a fashion victim.”

The men’s wear debut coincides with the introduction of an independent Tom Ford beauty brand signature fragrance, also produced by Lauder. Each is a facet in a strategy to develop a global luxury business, Mr. De Sole, the brand chairman, said in an interview.

Mr. De Sole declined to project sales for the company, which is privately held. He said he expected the brand to become “a worldwide major player in fashion,” and planned to open additional Tom Ford stores over the next three to four years in Milan, Tokyo, London and Los Angeles.

Mr. Ford said the new venture would leave him time to pursue other well-documented interests in Hollywood. “I’ve structured some time to make movies,” he said, declining to offer specifics. No women’s collection is planned. “It may never happen, or it may happen in three years,” he said.

“I don’t have anything new to say in that world yet.”


I have designs on the world, says Tom Ford

Hilary Alexander, Fashion Director, at Paris Fashion Week

Tom Ford, the multi-millionaire fashion designer who left Gucci in 2004, is launching his own menswear label and chain of exclusive shops worldwide, it was announced yesterday.


Tom Ford: ‘age is not important; it’s attitude’

But Ford, who helped re-establish the Italian label as a major luxury brand, will break with fashion tradition by shunning the catwalk and the celebrity route.

“I want to change the system,” he said yesterday, from Los Angeles, speaking exclusively to The Daily Telegraph.

“This is not about celebrities or the catwalk. I’m done with that. This collection is a personal thing – it’s about me and the things I care about.

“It’s for people who really care about clothes and quality. It could be a guy who’s only 20, or it might be a man of 80. “Age is not important; it’s attitude.”

Initially, the only place where customers will be able to buy the clothes will be the first Tom Ford shop, on Madison Avenue, New York – opposite the Gucci store. It will open on November 1.

A store in London, and shops in Milan, Los Angeles and Tokyo, will open over the next three to four years.

Ford’s menswear line will be produced in partnership with the Italian group, Ermenegildo Zegna – the company that produced his menswear under both the Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent banners, when the American designer was creative director of both brands.

The first Tom Ford collection will encompass a full range of men’s clothes – including tailored suits and jackets, dress shirts, accessories, shoes and other leather goods.

Prices have not yet been fixed, but a Ford ready-to-wear suit is unlikely to leave much change out of £1,200. Ford said that everything in his collection would be available as ready-to-wear and bespoke.

Madison Ave. run for Ford

Fashion icon Tom Ford is bringing his sexy star power to Madison Ave., with his first retail store slated to debut in late fall.Ford and business partner Domenico De Sole, who took the Gucci brand from the brink of extinction to the height of 1990s chic, are planning a three-story emporium of all things Tom: menswear, shoes, eyewear, accessories, fragrance and even beauty products.

Ford will be joining familiar company when he moves into the toniest shopping strips in the world. He’ll be across the street from former employer Gucci and next door to Yves Saint Laurent, where he also once served as creative director.

The nearly 10,000 square-foot space will also share the block with the retail storefronts of designer labels like Sonia Rykiel, Prada and Chloe.

Tom Ford chairman De Sole expects the store to appeal to a wide swath of age groups.

“New York is an incredibly important location for the luxury business, and I think there’s a great customer base,” he said.

The company will debut the Tom Ford label exclusively in the Madison Ave. shop and then distribute it to select high-end department stores next year.

Ford caused a stir in the fashion world in 2004 when he left Gucci after a high-profile breakup with the design house’s new owner to pursue a career in film.

Last spring, though, the designer announced a return to fashion with a signature ready-to-wear men’s line.

Ford also recently turned up the heat on his already sizzling image by posing on the cover of Vanity Fair with a nude Scarlett Johannson and Keira Knightley. He was clothed.

The clothing line, which will be produced by European manufacturer Ermenegildo Zegna, is expected to cater to a high-end clientele, with a men’s suit fetching upwards of $2,000.


Possible Ford deal with Zegna

Tom Ford is expected to announce as early as today that he has signed a manufacturing deal for his signature men’s wear collection with Ermenegildo Zegna, reports Women’s Wear Daily.

The industry has speculated about who Ford would turn to in developing his ready-to-wear luxury men’s collection every since he announced his decision last fall. According to WWD, men’s wear house Zegna was the logical choice. Domenico De Sole, Ford’s business partner, is a member of Zegna’s board. Furthermore, Zegna produced the Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent men’s collections when Ford was creative director at those houses.

Further to these personal connections, Zegna has the right resources to produce Ford’s collection, say sources. The company has factories in Italy and Switzerland that are capable of producing both designer suits in large quantities and more selective bespoke items. In 2005, the house generated sales of €713 million.


Tom Ford in clothing pact for flagship store

Designer Tom Ford, formerly creative director of Gucci, plans to expand the product line at his Manhattan flagship boutique, which is slated to open later this year.

Mr. Ford signed a deal with Italian clothing manufacturer Ermenegildo Zegna Group to create a menswear line, which will include ready-to-wear and made-to-measure clothing, footwear, and accessories. Initially, the line will be available only at the Manhattan store, with wider distribution beginning in 2007.

He plans to open the boutique, a 9,679-square-foot shop located at 845 Madison Ave., to coincide with the launch of the menswear line’s fall 2006 collection. “This agreement with Zegna is perfect for the Tom Ford brand and will ensure its place as the first true luxury brand of the 21st century,” said Mr. Ford in a statement.

The Zegna deal is the third major venture for Mr. Ford since he started his own firm with former Gucci Chief Executive Domenico De Sole.

Late last year, Mr. Ford launched a beauty and fragrance line with Manhattan cosmetics maker The Estee Lauder Cos., and he has entered into an agreement to produce Tom Ford-brand eyewear in partnership with the Italian Marcolin Group. Following the opening of the Manhattan flagship, Mr. Ford plans to open stores in Milan, London, Los Angeles and Tokyo over the next three to four years.


Seductive / Tom Ford

When Tom Ford resigned as creative director of the Gucci Group, loyal fashionistas from W Magazine (“it’s a devastating shake-up”) to money mavens at the Financial Times (“it really feels as if the foundations have been shaken”) all sobbed into their Louis Vuitton hankies and hid their swollen eyes behind oversized Gucci sunglasses. The fashion world hasn’t been this up in arms since we lost Gianni Versace.

Luckily, Tom Ford is alive and well, even if he is fighting with the suits over that silly contract thing. One thing is for certain though, his departure from Gucci marked the end of an era, and quite possibly the end of glamour—Tom Ford’s brand of glamour, anyway—at one of the world’s most prestigious fashion houses.

Even if the name Tom Ford doesn’t register, you’re probably familiar with the elegant look he singled-handedly created over the past decade. Picture this: It’s the early ’90s and we’re in Paris during the Louis Vuitton runway extravaganza, patiently waiting—in a seat that true fashion devotees would extort, pillage and plunder to have—for the designer du jour to take his final bow. Finally, Tom Ford emerges clad in tailored jeans and jacket, an unbuttoned white shirt, facial stubble, and sipping a martini as he takes his much-anticipated bow. The crowd goes insane.

It’s hard to say if Ford always had this kind of affect on the general population—although it’s easy to picture little girls on the playground twirling endlessly in their frilly dresses to get his attention (nowadays big boys do the same thing).

Tom Ford is known as the epitome of New York chic, but he didn’t bless the city with his presence until he enrolled at NYU as (get this) an art history major. But it wasn’t long before he dropped out and took up interior architecture at Parsons School of Design. He later moved on to finish his studies at Parsons in Paris.

In the years to come he made the transition to Perry Ellis where he took on the position of Design Director and eventually joined the Gucci team as Women’s Wear Designer. He was appointed as Creative Director of Gucci after only two short years.

Early in 2000, the Gucci Group acquired Yves Saint-Laurent Couture and Sanofi Beauté. As Creative Director of Yves Saint Laurent Couture and its perfume products, Ford also worked with the many creative teams of YSL to define and maintain the overall image and positioning of the brand.

His visionary look of the fashion industry has been the center of attention for as long as most of us can remember and he has won countless awards like VH-1’s Best New Designer in 1995, CFDA’s International Designer of the Year in 1996 and a Commitment to Life Award from AIDS Project Los Angeles for Gucci’s charitable work in support of people with HIV and AIDS.

Ironically, Maurizio Gucci wanted to give Ford the old heave-ho back in the early ’90s because he thought the young designer was “too trendy.” Turns out Ford’s brilliant overhaul of Gucci—$200 million in revenue magically bloomed into a $3 billion global fashion empire—was just the beginning. He also set the gold standard for brand-building. It was just after his Fall/Winter 2004-05 show in Paris that Ford hung up his hat at Gucci and the aforementioned chasm of the fashion world was created.

In a world infatuated with celebrity and status—epitomized by the likes of South Beach—the fundamental idea behind Ford’s work was “Wear Gucci and Be a Superstar.” Devotees around the globe awaited each new season with baited breath to see what the new “It” item was going to be. It was a season-defining, photographed-to-death trend.

When he designed a dress, it was photographed for every magazine, paraded down a red carpet by an A-list celebrity, photographed some more and then knocked off before it even made it into stores.

Every trend worth following appeared on Tom Ford’s runway first. The wildly popular (please won’t they finally just go away) hip-hugging, thong-revealing pants, sleekly tailored suits, jersey dresses, beaded jeans, sheer baby-doll tops, stovepipe trousers, mod mini-dresses—all can be traced right back to Ford.

He aided in the invention of the metrosexual by introducing American men to the slightly more flamboyant and creative way of dressing that his European counterpart has enjoyed for decades. He even showed the masses how make the impossibly stuffy, borderline nerdy blazer and jeans combo chic.

But Ford’s influence surpassed slickly tapered suits, slinky dresses and seasonal It bags, affecting the business of fashion in a way that no designer before him ever has. Don’t believe it? Well, in the last decade it was his logo-covered accessories that defined style and his big-business marketing skills that were mimicked by everyone in the industry. He also raised the standard for designers, not only in their work, but the consumer came to expect designers to be as photogenic and glamorous as Ford (and the celebrities they dress).

Paradoxically, it was easy to see a finer hand at work in Ford’s final collections for both Gucci and YSL. By recycling his most sought after styles of the past 10 years he in turn perfected them. In a way he seemed freer—working as though he had nothing to lose. It’s this creative freedom—one known to a select few—that set his iconic status in fashion history stone. Ford once said, “Real fashion change comes from real changes in real life. Everything else is just decoration.”

At 42, Ford is taking a break from fashion—at least for now. “With fashion, I feel that I’ve done it,” Ford said. “That doesn’t mean that I couldn’t do it more and I couldn’t do it better, that I couldn’t do it longer. But I feel like I’ve been very successful at it. But I do feel that perhaps I should challenge myself in a new way.”

Numerous rumors circulated concerning who would take his place at the helm of the Gucci Group. Names like Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney were thrown out as possible candidates, but in the end, John Ray was selected to fill the creative director position.

Ford hasn’t wasted much time making his mark elsewhere, most notably in Hollywood. A few months back, 800 of his closest friends (Hollywood personalities with whom he has built up a personal following over the years) gathered to watch as he was presented the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style Award.

As of May 2004, he joined the infamous auction house Sotheby’s in Paris where he will advise on a broad range of topics such as business and marketing opportunities.

While Ford is the first to admit he’s never sure what’s next on his already impressive agenda, he has announced he’ll be directing a remake of the epic film, Spartacus, to be filmed at Cinecitta Studios in Rome, according to La Repubblica. He also has an acting part in The Great New Wonderful World, which is in post-production now and is due out in 2005.

Still, no need to pin Tom Ford as the next Joel Schumacher because as Ford announced to Women’s Wear Daily, he has his own fashion line slated for unveiling next year. And with that pronouncement, the fashion world uttered a collectively sigh of relief.

We’ll all just have to wait and see what Tom Ford will do next.

—Casey Gillespie


Names and faces

Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley posed nude for the cover of Vanity Fair magazine’s yearly Hollywood issue, to be released today. Fashion superstar Tom Ford also appears on the cover photo, though he stuck with a more traditional suit — one of black fabric. Ford, the issue’s guest art director, said he hadn’t planned on becoming part of his own project, but he stepped in when Wedding Crashers star Rachel McAdams, 29, backed out. “She did want to do it, and then when she was on the set I think she felt uncomfortable, and I didn’t want to make anybody feel uncomfortable” Ford said Tuesday on ABC’s Good Morning America. Other Hollywood stars weren’t difficult to persuade, Ford said. “A lot of women actually, a couple of men, too, wanted to take their clothes off,” he said.

“These are such beautiful people, beautiful women, and who doesn’t want to see a bit of them?” Knightley, 20, is nominated for a best actress Oscar for her performance in Pride & Prejudice. Johansson, 21, costarred this year in Woody Allen’s Match Point.


Johansson and Knightley Strip for Vanity Fair

dd_vanityfair501200x277.jpgYoung movie beauties Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley have bared all for the annual Hollywood issue of Vanity Fair magazine.

Johansson, 21, and Knightley, 20, appear naked alongside clothed designer Tom Ford in a special shoot by legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz.Originally the issue’s guest art director, former Gucci designer Ford decided to appear on the cover when “The Wedding Crashers” beauty Rachel McAdams dropped out.

Ford explains, “She did want to do it, and then when she was on the set I think she felt uncomfortable, and I didn’t want to make anybody feel uncomfortable.

“A lot of women actually, a couple of men, too, wanted to take their clothes off. These are such beautiful people, beautiful women, and who doesn’t want to see a bit of them.”

In the issue, Angelina Jolie poses naked in a bathtub, while fully clothed George Clooney eyes up a female cast of nearly nude women.